Recently all three of us, all former state Republican chairmen, spoke out in opposition to Ryan Zinke’s bid to be Montana Republicans’ nominee for the lone U.S. Representative seat being vacated by Steve Daines. Congressman Daines is now running for the U.S. Senate.
We all commend Zinke on his service in the military, but feel his views are not right for Montana. One of us, former congressman and 2012 Republican nominee for governor Rick Hill of Helena, endorses state Sen. Elsie Arntzen. Another, state Sen. John Brenden, supports state Sen. Matt Rosendale in the race. The third, former chair Ken Miller, remains neutral in the primary and maintains he supports any candidate but Zinke. He sincerely believes that Corey Stapleton, Matt Rosendale or Elsie Arntzen would serve this state and conservatives well.
Here are our thoughts:
John Brenden: I decided to support Rosendale after I saw how effective he was in the legislature even as a freshman. Rosendale appeared in my committee early as a freshman legislator and made his case better than many seasoned legislators. He has a unique ability to form relationships with all legislators to become one of the most effective. On the other hand, I served with Sen. Zinke in the 2009 and 2011 sessions. He often votes against conservative values.
Rick Hill: I believe Arntzen would bring a good balance to D.C. I served four years as a congressman, and I know what it takes to be a good servant to the people of Montana. Elsie has those qualities. I have also been very open with my criticisms of Zinke. To my mind, there are the obvious ethical questions surrounding his association with SOFA (Special Operations For America) PAC and its promotion of his candidacy. Even more concerning is his voting record. In his first term he earned a 92 percent rating from the AFL-CIO. He earned an 88 percent rating from the Teamsters. Meanwhile he earned an 8 percent rating from the Montana Shooting Sports Association. Those ratings are very troubling.
Ken Miller: I recently sent an email laying out Zinke’s liberal positions and establishing his similarities to John Kerry’s flip-flopping. It covered natural resource development, education, and abortion. I share Rick’s concern with Zinke’s close ties to a super PAC that is pouring money into the campaign promoting Zinke. Legal complaints have been filed because of the apparent coordination between the Super PAC and Zinke, which is prohibited by law. These concerns are real and will be used to defeat Zinke in the general election, essentially giving away the congressional seat.
Conclusion: The three of us come from different backgrounds, and hold different hopes for the outcome of the race. But what we have in common is a record of service to the Republican Party as a whole, from our separate terms as chair. We hope that past service will persuade Montana Republicans to take heed to these opinions and issues.
Miller is from Laurel, Hill is from Helena, and Brenden is from Scobey.