Libertarians chose Wicks as candidate

Brad Molnar
An opinion
Mark Wicks was selected as the Libertarian candidate to replace Ryan ZInke’s seat in the US House of Representatives.

The Republican and Democratic conventions to select their candidates to replace Ryan Zinke were held in a convention hall holding hundreds of delegates and on-lookers. The Libertarian convention, held at the Eagle Lodge in Helena last Saturday, was attended by three dozen loyalists including 21 delegates. It was the only convention that featured homemade brownies as a snack.
The Libertarian Party has been considered an “also ran” party garnering single-digit vote results after their candidates paid their campaign fees then went fishing. Ron Vandevender, Chairman of the Montana Libertarian Party, is vowing to change that. Referencing two presidential candidates with the lowest likeability ratings in history and now two candidates that support the same policies and personalities Ron proclaimed, “No more AAA ball. We are in this to win and build a party that can continue to win. We have the message, and this is the time for that message.”
The candidate selected was Mark Wicks, a published author and third generation rancher from Inverness who augments his income by delivering the rural mail and selling produce at various venues including farmers markets and road side stands. He has a degree in Aviation maintenance. Mark explained, “I am just like many Montanans. I need several revenue streams to care for my family. It is a lot of work but it is what a father does”. He is married to Beth and has a son Hunter (18), and three daughters Jewel (16), Choral (12), and Liberty (4). His children are all involved in the family enterprises. “I think many people will see me as the candidate that truly understands the average Montanan and their daily struggles and hopes”.

Wicks’ first mentioned position concerned the long-standing platform of the Republican Party to eliminate the U.S. Dept of Education. George W. Bush opposed this plank so delegates to the Republican convention deleted it. Mark Wicks says, “Reduce government spending and programs across the board starting with the Dept. of Education. Take that money and block grant it to the states. We have great teachers. Set them free and let them teach.”
Veterans: “We should give all veterans a Medicaid card which is accepted by every hospital. They should not have to drive hundreds of miles over icy roads when quality care is right at hand.”
Functionality of Congress: “We must stop runaway spending and social engineering. To accomplish this we must return to the intent of the 10th amendment of the Constitution. Neither major party wants to solve problems but rather prefer to cast blame. We elect Democrats and Republicans over and over yet everything just gets worse.”
Transfer of Federal lands to Montana: “I believe federal lands would be better managed under local control. But I would never accept selling large parcels of public lands. There may be a few isolated parcels that should be considered but not many. If we were to sell off lands favored by hunters, fishermen, and wildlife I would insist on a public easement that would forever guarantee public access.
Wicks admits getting out his message is problematic with only $1000 to put into the effort. But he is hopeful, “The national party must recognize that out of the five federal races going on right now Montana leans the most Libertarian and is the most affordable. Libertarians across the country should be energized by this opportunity to establish a beach-head in Congress.”
Wicks joined all candidates at the convention in an oath to not make personal attacks against their opponents but rather to honestly discuss the philosophical differences between them. Keeping true to that he said, “I am a ‘no strings attached’ candidate. The other two will be beholding to the special interests and to their parties supported by the same special interests. People want a real discussion of the real issues facing America and our families. We will not accept campaigns driven by messages of 140 characters or less such as “I will drain the swamp” or “Make America Great Again”. Asked what separated him from Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, Wicks replied, “Rob Quist is probably a nice guy but he plainly advocates for national registration of guns. I have never heard of anyone which thinks this is an acceptable idea.” On Gianforte he said, “He has worked hard and accomplished a lot. And he accomplishes a lot of good through his philanthropy. But what he offers is just more of the same partisan politics and sound bites.” Wicks smiled and said, “He also wants to “drain the swamp”.
In the last election 6 percent of Montanans voted Libertarian for president. Six percent is a long way from a winning 34 percent. But Mark Wicks and Ron Vandevender vow to give it their best.

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