GOP politicians outpaced statesmen in voting decision

David Keyes
Outlook Publisher

  Help me with this. I am struggling to define the difference between a politician and a statesman.

     When Congressman Ryan Zinke was appointed Secretary of the Interior, the political gears started turning to replace his position as Montana’s lone congressman.

     There is an important difference between what is politically expedient and what is right. It looks like Montana’s Republican leaders in Helena chose the political path.

    Montana has 56 counties and 54 of them told state leaders that it would make the most sense to have a mail in vote. This special election will be expensive and wasn’t in any county budget. 

    Montana counties are good at running mail in votes and have proven it.


• The vast majority of counties want a mail-in special election.

• To have in-person as well as mail in votes (absentee, etc.) is very expensive and will strain already taxed county budgets.

• Hundreds of Montanans have contacted legislators to complain.

     According to one report, more than 700 emails or calls were logged over the Easter break  by Montana House members from those in support of the the mail-in ballot option.

     So what is the overriding reason for most elected Republicans to shoot down an efficient and financially sound way to run an election?

    The truth is the leaders in Helena – from both parties – were ready to let the mail-in vote happen until Rep. Jeff  Essmam of Billings, who is the Montana GOP chair, sent an email out to party members warning that the mail-in option gave Democrats an advantage because more people would vote if voting was easier.

   That’s it. No Constitutional reason. No common-sense reason. Just a simplistic and admitted attempt at voter suppression. What else could anyone call it?

   The governor attempted to step in but it appears the GOP-controlled House is going to sit on discussing the matter any further.

   Partisan politics has been around as long as votes have been cast. Of course the party in power wants to stay in power. My take is most Montanans who want to vote will find a way to do so but by thumbing their noses at county leaders and disregarding the costs associated with running an election casts our state GOP leaders in the role of hack politicians rather than statesmen.

One wonders if this attempt will backfire and motivate voters to overcome this partisan hurdle.  I guess we will find out soon enough.


    Just a friendly reminder that time is running out for seniors to apply for several local scholarships. Go to and go to scholarships and you will find three opportunities. The Laurel Rotary, Olson Family Memorial scholarship and the Larry and Nancy Lorfing Memorial scholarships are all there and it only takes a few minutes.  Deadline is April 30.


David Keyes is publisher of the Laurel Outlook.

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