State-wide and local Republican affairs

Brad Molnar
Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Political Potpourri

First to announce as a candidate for Montana’s top executive position, Corey Stapelton addressed the Big Tent dinner populated with Republican faithful from Yellowstone County.

Nominated by the Secretary of the Navy, Corey attended the Navy Academy Preparatory School and graduated from the Naval Academy. Corey’s military background is evident in his bearing and focus. Especially when he said, “Quiet leadership is my personal default.”

Stapelton was the first Generation Xer elected to the Montana Senate and held peer elected leadership posts while carrying major legislation which he now uses as a basis for voter confidence. In 2012 Corey ran for governor and came in second to Rick Hill in the primary. In 2014 Corey announced he would challenge Max Baucus. Max retired early so Corey, to avoid a head-on with Steve Daines, ran for the U.S House and lost to Ryan Zinke in the primary. Stapelton was elected to the Office of the Secretary of State in 2016 and now states, “I am the only veteran on the State Land Board (top five positions in Montana government) and that is a shame.”

When asked what he brings to the table besides four legislative sessions and one term as Secretary of State Corey responded, “Facts matter. As a career financial adviser and the Surface Warfare Officer on the air craft carrier USS John F. Kennedy and the guided missile cruiser Hue’ City you must always make correct decisions and surround yourself with the best of people. With our new $10B budget the next governor will inherit a mess and a pragmatic top executive will be a necessity.”

With Gianforte being semicoy as to if he will run for reelection to Congress or return to Montana for a second run for our governorship (it’s Governor) the current main competition for Stapelton is Attorney General Fox, a top vote getter in Montana’s history. Corey dismissed Fox with, “What has he actually done besides join a slew of lawsuits? Do Montana Republicans really equate leadership with law suits”? He followed with, “Trump will win Montana again by 20% and the Dem’s don’t have a viable candidate. So for the first time in 16 years Montana will have a Republican governor. The real question is, how do we unify after the election?”

My favorite question to ask is still, “Governor Inslee and the Washington Legislature are trying to blow a $5B hole in Montana’s economy. What should we do to give them pause about continuing this economic assault?”

Corey replied, “First we need to re-consider some of our business ties. For starters, like I did in the legislature, I would like to poach some of the University of Washington medical schools $12.5B impact and open a medical school here. Also, we need to re-examine Ryan Zinke’s idea of shipping our coal globally through a Canadian port if Washington continues to block our deep sea port there”.

Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee

The YCRCC met to elect new officers, but only one position had a challenger. First order of business was accepting nine new Precinct Captains (grass roots organizers). With recent legislation allowing partisan involvement in non-partisan races much of the conversation centered on city council races in which Democratic Socialists and Progressive Socialists were alleged to be recruiting well funded candidates. No path forward found consensus but the discussion was lively.

The contested race was for State Committeeman, which until days before, did not have a candidate so petroleum engineer Eric Olson, organizer of the local Montana Tea Party (Atlas Shruged) and current leader of Phyllis Schalfly’s Eagles threw his hat in the ring. Eric recounted that when his daughter chaired the YCRCC they both recruited a record number of precinct captains and formed an unequaled grass roots organization. Olson said he wanted to work with Chairman Tim Stark to bolster the ranks of precinct captains.

The other State Committeeman hopeful was Jake Penwell. Jake said his experience was in running various non-profit organizations.

I asked Chairman Stark what the duties of the State Committeeman were. He threw the question to the other board members. I did not foresee my question sparking a debate but county by-laws were researched, Wikipedia was consulted, state by-laws were discussed, and phones were scrolled until the answer was found. It was determined his singular duty for the next four years was to vote for the state level leadership candidates at the state convention this coming June.

Penwell won 11-4.

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