This isn’t the kind of activity that’s illegal, though it could lead to the erosion of liberties. That’s what happens when corporations take over America, and few are as supportive of their efforts as the Republican Party.
Today the Montana Republican Party was figuring out the best way to keep that corporate dominance intact. Yep, it was the 2015 Montana GOP Convention.
Here’s what the official 2015 Montana Republican Convention Agenda looks like:
There’s also meetings on Montana budgets (Llew Jones and Nancy Balance are giving those) and 2016 messaging (given by Shane Scanlon).
Ryan Zinke conducted the Freedom Forum with a freedom-loving guest from Texas, U.S. Representative Louis Gohmert.
Kristin Inbody at the Great Falls Tribune figured there were more than 200 people at the convention when voting took place around 3:45 this afternoon. On the ballots were Will Deschamps, Jeff Essman, and Dan Happel, all competing for the main leadership post of the Montana Republican Party.
For the past five years, Deschamps has been Chairman of the Montana Republican Party, but Deschamps says the party needs to open up more, while Essman is even more on the fringe than Deschamps, saying the party needs to close ranks further. Deschamps wants to close ranks, something I don’t feel is good for a political party to do. I think Essman’s approach is the healthiest for the Montana GOP, but also the most dangerous for Montana Democrats and their chances at taking the 2017 Montana Legislature.
I wonder how the directorship of the Montana Republican Party plays into this as well. Bowen Greenwood was the director for more than 4 years before he stepped down after the 2014 elections, replaced by Chris Schipp in December. I wonder if Greenwood had a falling out with Deschamps or his direction and focus, and also how much Schipp adheres to Deschamps way of thinking.
It’s important to note that all of these men are old – Deschamps is 67; Essman, 62 – Shipp is 26-years old, and from the photos I saw of the convention today, there were no young people. Montana House Rep Ken Miller echoed this sentiment when he said “We should have this place full of young people.” He said that while nominating the 60-something Happel (I couldn’t find his age anywhere). He also made it a point that “Rand Paul could have” filled the Helena convention ‘hall’ with the young voters the Montana Republicans say they represent.
Let’s be honest – no one in Montana represents young people. Neither the old and antiquated GOP nor the aloof and clueless Democrats. The policies of both parties turn off young voters, so much so that they hardly ever vote!
Missoula Representative Bryce Bennett has probably come the closest to solving this, at least for the Democrats, when he effectively started Forward Montana a decade ago. Since then, however, it’s been a sad state of affairs for young people in Montana politics. I mean, even the GOP Young Guns weren’t there today!
I have to say, Essman was very active in his campaign. He had flyers made up, the professional yard-sign kind.
Now, is this good for Democrats? It’s good and bad.
- First, it’s good for Montana because it means the Republicans will be stronger. Hey, lots of people are Republicans!
- Next, it’ll be good for Democrats as they’ll have more ‘moderate’ and ‘responsible’ Republicans to work with. Those are the kinds that Essman claims he’s going to recruit.
- Finally, it’ll again be good for Montana as some of those fringe elements of the GOP – Fielder and her land sell-offs, Wittich and his intransigence, and Laszoffy and his/her educational stance – can be pushed to the wayside…or off the state altogether.
Well, that’s the idea. Will any of this come about? Time will tell on that one. Time will also tell what the Democrats will do about it, though the wait won’t be too long. Their convention is sometime in August. I expect their leadership will remain the same. While that’s fine in the legislature, at the party level, I’m not sure it’ll be able to stand up against Essman’s growing machine.
I would like to note that Greg Gianforte was at the convention, but did not speak. He spoke at the Chamber of Commerce yesterday, which was protested by a smattering of Helena retirees. According to Kristen Inbody, he was shaking hands and doing the ol’ meet-and-greet. So no announcement on a run for governor from him this weekend.
Overall, it wasn’t the crazed and headline-grabbing weekend Montana Democrats were hoping for. It was sane, orderly, and coordinated. That’s the stamp that Jeff Essman will make with the GOP, and Democrats should be nervous.
You might also like this June 23 interview with Jeff Essman.