Back in 2016, the Cascade County Republican Central Committee said it would support Sheridan Hope Buck against Steve Fitzpatrick in that year’s election for HD 20.
The reason for this was that Fitzpatrick wanted to protect Montana’s open primary laws, while the more hardline Republicans wanted to get rid of those.
The thinking of the hardliners is that there’s always a chance some Democrats could vote in their primary, typically for the more ‘moderate’ Republican candidate.
Hardline Republicans hate this, and have hated it for years. They see this as one of the main reasons why ‘liberal’ legislation, such as Obamacare in Montana, gets passed - too many moderate Republicans in the legislature siding with Democrats.
The best place to read about the infighting in Great Falls is in this 66-page political complaint from May of that year.
Relations between Al Olszewski and Steve Fitzpatrick soured during the debate over HB 318 last session, the central committees bill.
Fitzpatrick said that the only reason the hardliners wanted to sacrifice Colstrip was so they could “protect corruption and fraud going on in our central committees.”
I think the Olszewski angle is interesting, as he’s once again making a long-shot bid for governor, and could play a spoiler role in what’ll likely be a tight primary fight between Fox and Gianforte. No matter the results of that primary, moderates and hardliners will probably be at each other’s throats more than ever before.
That’s why what happens at next week’s GOP state convention is so critical.
The Helena convention starts on Wednesday the 13th and ends that Friday.
Sheridan Hope Buck might have a shot at getting elected chairwoman of the Montana GOP. She has the support of some of the more hardliners. The moderates might want to go with someone like Don K or Terry Nelson.
Well, that’s how hardliner Matthew Monforton sees it. He did a single term in the legislature a couple years ago. I haven’t read anything else about this convention, so he might know more than the rest of us.
All I can find out about the 59-year-old Buck is that she lived in Texas for quite some time. I don’t know anything else about her. Maybe the state’s corporate media will look into her, but I doubt it.
As usual, we probably won’t know what’s going on in Helena next week until it’s already finished. And what does happen in Helena next week will probably have a big impact on how the GOP goes after the legislature next year. In many ways that’ll hurt Democrats, but I think Democrats might find some opportunities there as well.
We’ll see how it plays out.