Republican candidates debate

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Political Potpourri
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Outlook photo by Brad Molnar                        Greg Gianforte was one of three Republican candidates for Montana’s Governorship who debated last week in Billings. The other two men are State Senator Dr. Al Olszewski and Attorney General Tim Fox.

Outlook photo by Brad Molnar
          
            Greg Gianforte was one of three Republican candidates for Montana’s Governorship who debated last week in Billings. The other two men are State Senator Dr. Al Olszewski and Attorney General Tim Fox.

Last Thursday three Republicans who have announced intentions to vie for the Republican nomination for Montana’s gubernatorial race answered questions from Dr. David Austin, a former intelligence officer, and Karen Gallagher a local radio personality. The event was moderated by Voices of Montana host Tom Schultz. If you want to make sure Montanas’ weekly papers do not cover your event schedule it for Thursday. Most weeklys come out on Thursdays so the news is cold by the next publication … except for me, because I dig deeper than he said/ she said.

The debate was un-debatably dull. The only real fireworks were in the opening statements. Attorney General Tim Fox charged that Republicans in the U.S. Congress need our congressional delegation to accomplish their goals. He surmised making that seat open, therefore at risk, was an improper decision by Congressman Gianforte. State Senator Al Olszewski charged he was witnessing back stabbing, flip flopping, and he would not be body slammed into dropping out of the race. Gianforte brushed it aside with, “I promised a clean campaign and that is what I am delivering.” In the plethora of comments, on the multiple sites that I have read the “body slam” comment hurt Dr. Al much more than Gianforte.

After that it was like watching iguanas fight at 40 degrees

Fahrenheit. No matter the question Gianforte’s answer was, “I am a business man that will bring my business experience to solve that problem.” Or “I have worked with President Trump on that.” Regardless of the question Gianforte asserted the solution was Trump/Gianforte “working together for Montana” ad nauseam.

To most questions AG Fox led with “I have filed a lawsuit on that.” If the question was about coal/energy, missing Native American women, reducing pharmaceutical prices, or Second Amendment rights, Attorney General Fox had a lawsuit he had filed that he could reference.

Many current issues available for debate were not brought up. Montana’s Espinoza’s family’s complaint of systemic religious intolerance was before the U. S. Supreme court on debate night. Nada. President Trump is allowing states to decide if they will accept immigrants seeking political asylum. Crickets. Trump recently attempted to put down criticism of his deficit spending with a retort of, “Who the hell cares about the budget.” A ques- tion of how the federal deficit will impact the Montana budget and what to do about it would have been groovy. Eye of the tornado.

Gianforte did make some statements with meat on them. Chief among them was to cap the budget at current levels of spending and use economic growth to pay for tax deductions. This is near and dear to my heart. When in the legislature, I organized the conservative caucus (all thirteen of us) to hold a press conference announcing we would not vote for the budget bills if they contained any new money. We eventually had 22 signatories on our pledge. Be- fore the first debate was over we were almost back to the original

13. It has been floated every session since with Republican domination of both chambers. Rep. Llew Jones (R) Conrad, leader of the “Conservative Solutions Caucus” made short work of it last session. Greg must explain how he will get the legislature to back his promise or it is a hollow promise. Specifically, how does Greg plan to get past Llew?

On Montana’s meth epidemic Dr. Al Olszewiski offered something new. His proposal is to of- fer a $50,000 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of meth and hu- man traffickers. He further pro- posed posting the reward at all roads into Montana. His rational was that drug dealers need to be able to trust each other and the reward would erode that trust. They would turn to other states in which to market their poison. He felt Montana’s wide open spaces with darn little, and crossjurisdictional law enforcement would no longer be considered a soft target. AG Fox offered the reason Montana has a meth problem is the border wall is not complete and it is up to congress to fix that.

Final Analysis

If I had been the moderator I would have asked, “If multiple law suits,” or “working with Trump” into the wee hours had solved the problems we would not have asked these questions. What do you have that is new and will work?

No one ever asks me to be the moderator. (sob)

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