Dan Bartel (R-Lewistown) is the most conservative of those running to fill the opening of the Senate seat emptied by Ryan Osmundson, a Solutions Caucus member chosen by Gianforte as his budget director. Few are happy with Ginaforte’s pick, which has unnerved some of his supporters. Bartel, however, has the reputation of a stalwart Republican and has served the house in 2017, 2019, and 2021. Bartel finished with a 97% in Party Loyalty from impartial party loyalty score, Legislator Loyalty.
Two other candidates are rumored to be interested, which will be explained below. The process works like this:
Osmundson’s senate district traverses seven counties. Each county Republican Central Committee picks three members for a selection committee. That selection committee is tasked with coming up to three names to perspective replacements for the RINO, Osmundon. Those get passed onto the County Commissioners in each county. Among those three names, they will meet and narrow down to one. The central committee votes are weighted by how many votes were cast in the last primary, and the commissioners votes are weighted by the number of the previous general election. Fergus County has a little over 50% of the weight of the vote itself, which contains the town of Lewistown.
The problem is this; with Osmundson gone, these counties of Senate District 17 must replace him. Three best possible solutions are Rep. Wyle Galt (current speaker of the House), Rep. Dan Bartel, and former RINO legislator, Jim Peterson, who served as a Llew Jones’ Solutions Caucus acolyte from 2002 to 2010 (he finished just above Llew Jones, see below) are in the top running.
Wyle Galt is another name being batted about, which would require him to leave the House of Representatives, which he must do eventually anyway because he’s termed out. It’s unclear what awaits him in public service in the future. There is little doubt that his name recognition and work ethic place him in the position for statewide office, although it’s probably premature currently. Galt, no doubt, has a political career of some kind in front of him.
The problem by choosing Galt, however, is that automatically assuming his place during the interim session would be Casey Knudsen, a Libertarian-leaning Republican from Malta who seems to be a fine gentleman. However, Knudsen has been less than a stalwart Republican in the last session ended with a B in Party Loyalty, largely thanks to votes against Big Tech censorship and a vote for the genital mutilation of children. Currently, it is rumored that Knudsen will be primaried, and Montana Daily Gazette has spoken with that potential opponent.
However, it seems that Galt is willing to have his name thrown in the hat, but is not terribly interested in throwing it in himself. According to Galt, he has a better solution than he or Bartel running.
Galt told the Gazette, “I would think the ideal thing for the constituents of Western Montana for a place-holder to serve the last year-and-and a half of Omundson’s term. This would allow Bartel and I to be both sitting in influence right now, with both of us on interim communities. To remove us now in the middle of the work that we owe our constituencies.”
It is unclear what positions Galt spoke of that Bartel holds, which cannot be easily filled by someone else. Galt’s position, on the other hand, is much more pivotal than Bartel’s.
This is exactly the solution presented by Osmundson at last night’s meeting in Fegus County. He – a Solutions Caucus RINO – doens’t want Bartel – a strong conservative, to serve in his seat. Likewise, he doesn’t want Galt, who although slipped accoring to some in his conservative credentials during the House speakership, is much more conservative than Osmundson.
Jim Peterson’s whose name has been floated about, has not yet returned the Montana Daily Gazette for comment as both Bartel and Galt have.
Last night in Fergus County, Osmundson gave no recommendation for Bartel or Galt for should be nominated, but a “no name” person who has no desire for holding the seat longer than the interim. Then, Bartel and Galt can run against each other “to keep things fair.”
According to reports, 32 people were present in the Fergus County room and supporting Bartel. Because he lives in Judith Basin County (his wife runs it) there was no real way for him to make a substantive representative. According to reports, Osmundson, if forced, will support Wylie Galt for the seat if central committees not forced to choose a no-name candidate (as he wishes).
Those are the facts, but this is the commentary (we try to always separate the two at Montana’s #1 leading news source): It makes political sense that Galt take this position because he is termed out of the House anyway, putting him into the Senate temporarily and placing him in a good position to run for office in the Senate. His voting record was conservative as a legislator. However, it is untenable that Rep. Casey Knudsen, who voted for childhood mutilation and Big Tech censorship take his spot.
Meanwhile, Bartel is eager for the position, and Osmundson’s suggestion that a “no-name” candidate take his spot as a place-holder places the GOP in no good position for the upcoming primary. Also, given that Osmundson is a Llew Jones lackey, we are prone to oppose anything he suggests. Behind the scenes, MDG has been told that Osmundson has been lobbying for Galt over Bartel, if his suggestion that mere place-holders not take his spot.
Although Galt has a conservative voting record, his appointments as Speaker of the House have been abysmal (he appointed a number of RINOs to pivotal positions). This gives us pause to consider his candidacy for any position currently.
Meanwhile, the Montana Daily Gazette proudly endorses Rep. Matt Regier as Speaker of the House for the upcoming legislative session (an announcement he has yet to make, and we – admittedly – are being presumptive), and if Casey Knudsen serves in the interm in that spot, he has a better chance of winning the election as speaker as the incumbent. MDG can report with certainty that Knudsen wants the position.
MDG would encourage each Central Committee to vote Bartel to replace Osmundson, and to keep Galt as the Speaker of the House, letting them go at it during the general election if need be.