Democrats Organizing in Conservative Montana is an Awesome Thing

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Thank God. Democrats organizing in conservative Montana is a good thing. Here’s why: The problem with Montana state government is not that there are too many Democrats in Helena (we hold supermajorities in the House and Senate, as well as the governor’s office); the problem is there are too many Democrats in the Republican Party.

Montana has been held hostage for nearly 15 years by the Democrat-Wing of the Republican Party, known now as the Solutions Caucus, which was formed 15 years ago by Llew Jones, his Richland County counterpart, Sidney’s Walt McNutt, and other “Republicans” who have sided with Democrat governors and their legislative counterparts to defeat Republican bills. Running as Republicans in the wrong party, these “RINOs” have created a caucus – with Democrats – to shut down Republican initiatives for far too long.

Thankfully, clarity on their partisan voting record thanks to Ed Butcher’s legistats, along with this publication, have allowed voters an inside glimpse into the real problem in Montana…Democrats running as Republicans to get elected and then voting with Democrats once they get in Helena.

The worst offenders (this session) have included Representatives Brian Putnam, Geraldine Custer, Ed Buttrey, Llew Jones, and Wendy McKamey. Their choice for U.S. Congress is Ryan Zinke. The name of this Democrat-Wing of the Republican Party has changed frequently to confuse voters from the Log Cabin Republicans to the Responsible Republicans, to the Solutions Caucus, to the Conservative Solutions Caucus (and more). Their goal is simple; stop conservative legislation, go home and act like Republicans, rinse and repeat.

The 2020 Red Wave saw departure to several of the Democrat-Wing’s top figures, including the loss of Joel Krautter, Eric Moore, and Nancy Ballance. But despite those wins, the Democrat-wing was still able to wreak some havoc in Helena and reject some good bills, including one that would prevent doctors from cutting the penises off of little boys because their parents are in the LGBTQ movement (add Casey Knudsen and Mallerie Stromswold to that list).

In Richland County, from 2018-2019, the deep-red county was represented by Joel Krautter, who proudly wore an “F-pin” on his lapel at the legislature to mock his Legistats score, happy to be counted among the Democrats on the Republican platform. He was defeated by the more conservative challenger, Brandon Ler, in the primary and soon ousted.

Recently, a far-left and out-of-state owned newspaper in Sidney (the county seat of Richland County in HD35) ran an article about the Democratic Central Committee holding their first meeting. Some Republicans have slightly panicked, as though this is a bad thing.

It’s not a bad thing, and praise God for it.

Republicans do not have a legitimate risk of losing to Democrats in Richland County, short of there not being a viable Republican candidate (such as was the case with its sheriff’s race several years ago, pitting an incumbent against a relative unknown individual).

Consider the race for President in Richland County, in which Trump won by a 56% margin, among the biggest differential in the nation (see below from the New York Times).

In an average election year, 78% of Richland County residents vote Republican. Ergo, the danger is not that Republicans in Richland County lose to Democrats. The danger is that Democrats run as Republicans (as Joel Krautter did in 2018, or Tammi Christensen (daughter of Walt McNutt – a pro-choice candidate – did roughly a decade ago).

The progressive out-of-state news outlet, Sidney Herald, ran the article in question (see below). We don’t want to link a fake news outlet, so a photo will have to suffice.

Here’s why this is good news: Unfortunately, Montana has an open primary. In 2018, the conservative candidate for HD35 lost, Tanya Rost, by 165 votes. Given disparities from previous years, it’s estimated that approximately 350 or so votes came from Democrats who chose to vote on the Republican ballot (without key Democratic races in a non-presidential year to keep them on their own ballot).

In other words, Rost lost a Republican primary because Democrats crossed over to vote against her and for Krautter, who had founded the College Democrats and basically, anyone with common sense knew was either a Democrat or a recently converted Republican who leaned Democrat. He ended his one and only legislative session with a 64% in party loyalty.

In a presidential year, and against a Republican candidate with more name recognition – Brandon Ler – Krautter lost his re-election bid in 2020 by 144 votes. With several competitive Democrat races at play, more Democrats chose to stay in their own primary and not to throw wrenches into Republican affairs.

The Sidney Herald’s article mentions those present at the Democrat Central Committee’s “first meeting” and includes the name Janet Martineau, who wrote a letter endorsing Krautter in his bid against the more conservative Ler (as did other local Democrats, which we wrote about here). The Democrats threw their support behind a Republican because they didn’t have their own candidate (besides Krautter). Meanwhile, many Republicans were content to vote for the “Republican” incumbent, not knowing any better. The election outcome was closer than it should have been.

Please, Richland County Democrat Party…organize. We beg you to. Please, run your own candidates and stop sneaking yours into our party. Let’s have a fair match-up. You choose your candidates, we will choose ours, and we’ll see you in the General Election.




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