Leadership Vacuum Provides an Opening

Most of the attention in the primary has been focused on the Republican gubernatorial race, but some surprises could be in store for the GOP legislators who are facing primary challenges next month. With the Republican legislature being so unpopular, it’s understandable that those in charge are seeing serious primary challenges.

Voters didn’t expect their legislators to show up in Helena with an intellect rivalled only by garden tools, but that’s what happened.  And so, state Senator Bruce Tutvedt (R) must now defend his own Senate District 3 against Rollan Roberts II, of Whitefish.

Tutvedt is vulnerable on several fronts. First, Tutvedt has a problem because he was among those running the show last session.  He served as Senate President Pro Tempore and was said to be in charge of the GOP legislative strategy–for the session that turned Montana into a national laughing stock.   Tutvedt is rumored to be on tap to replace Jim Peterson as Senate President, who was a massive failure as leader.

Here’s a video of Tutvedt in action. That’s him in the upper right hand corner of the screen:

Under Tutvedt, there were 92 bills deemed unconstitutional by the Legislature’s staff but still brought forward for consideration.  Tutvedt defended this using your tax dollars to debate frivolous and nutjob bills even as he admitted it was a waste of time.

Tutvedt is also vulnerable to a challenge from the right.  Here’s a guy that runs around Montana railing against excessive spending and the evils of “too much government.”  Tutvedt wrote on his website that:

“To have better government we need more legislators with business and budgeting experience to expedite the principals [sic] of smaller and more efficient government. The budget cannot continue to increase at the present rate. It’s unsustainable.”

But Sen. Tutvedt was later revealed to be one of the largest recipients of farm subsidies in Montana history.  At one time, word on the street was that Tutvedt would be picked to be Rick Hill’s running mate, but after last session–and Tutvedt’s hypocrisy on government spending, that was as obvious “no go.”

Tutvedt is also vulnerable because he probably has never had a serious challenger and doesn’t seem to be doing much campaigning.  The Flathead Memo reported that Tutvedt has…wait for it…updated his website to say he’s running for a second term and that he has a few signs up.  That’s basically it at barely a month out.

Rollan Roberts  II meanwhile has been going full steam ahead.  He has a new website up (his third): www.voterollanroberts.com.  The Flathead memo reports that Roberts is conducting honk-and-waves and has a well-done 4-page letter out.  The third GOP candidate, Jayson Peters, who now manages Sykes for TEA Party billionaire Ray Thompson, dropped out of the race to help consolidate the anti-establishment, anti-incumbent sentiment behind one candidate.

State Senator Bruce Tutvedt is the top GOP legislator up for election this cycle since Jim Peterson is a “hold-over” and not up this year.  House Speaker Mike Milburn is termed out of the house.  His disgrace as Speaker was so great that he appears to have realized he can’t run for Senate.

Posted: May 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

12 thoughts on “Leadership Vacuum Provides an Opening

  1. Farmboy

    I would like to see Tuvet gone, and Wendy Warpath from Havre gone come next session, and mayber her serority sister Kris Hansen from Havre as well. Also I would like to see John Brennan gone from the Montana State Senate and replaced by former state rep Julie French from Scobey. That would be a kick in the pants.

  2. Highly Amused

    I had to read this article twice to be sure I got it. It sure looks to me like the Cowgirl is trying to help out Senator Tutvedt’s far right opponent.

    Did I miss the announcement that the TEA Party and the Religious Right had taken over the governor’s office, er, I mean the MTCowgirl blog?

    1. Rob Kailey

      Silly wingnut. Perhaps you missed the memo that shows how a primary is not the same as the general election. If I want a Democrat to replace a wingnut incumbent, what better way then to knock him off with a religious loon, and let sanity prevail in the general?

      1. Dan T.

        These guys are operating without both oars in the water. They know this makes them angry, but they can’t figure out why. They should start by trying to put themselves in the shoes of their constituents – perhaps I should spell it out for them. “constituents” means the people they are supposed to represent.

      2. Highly Amused

        Doubtful a Democrat could win that district. Pretty solid Republican last time with a huge Dem turnout – 2800 vote margin or about 62/38. Gotta swing a lot of people to swap to a Dem seat. Even with a “weak” Republican running. Just my 2cents worth.

        1. James Conner

          I concur. The GOP candidate could be caught buggering dead boys on the church steps as services concluded and the voters in SD-3 would still send him to Helena.

  3. Dem Dame

    Why would democrats want more wing nuts in the legislature? I think some of the butter has slipped off your noodle there “amused.”

  4. Hi-Liner

    Funny that none of the GOP staffers came on to defend Tutvedt’s actions on the merits. Telling.

  5. Cogburn

    The Flathead Senate race is getting ugly. Check out this site: meetrollanroberts.com

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