Dirty Tricks in Teton County
Choteau Republicans have indefinitely postponed their annual Shrimp Peel fundraiser due to party infighting over legislative primaries, but local TEA Party wing of the party has hijacked the event for its own. Right-wingers says the event is still on and is using the popular annual get-together to feature TEA Party wing candidates and speakers instead of Republicans.
Dueling ads appeared in yesterday’s Choteau Acantha–one says the event is off, the other says it’s on.
The first ad is directly from the chair of the Teton County Central committee. His ad states that the traditional Shrimp Peel fundraiser, which the local central committee has hosted year after year, will be postponed until after the primary elections in June. GOP Chair Lew Clark’s ad explains that local Republicans voted 8-1 to postpone the event after it was revealed that a rightwing candidate “is trying to hijack our event.” This man “voted to cancel the Shrimp peel… and claim it as his own.”
In the same paper, the TEA Partier wing has their own ad, stating that the event is on for April 5, and that the event will feature angry TEA Party senator Art Wittich to bring fire and brimstone down upon the locals for daring to support their own popular elected Republicans. What’s interesting about the phony shrimp peel ad is that it says it’s paid for by the “Teton County Republican Shrimp Peel LLC,” which as far as I can tell doesn’t actually exist. Cowgirl tipsters did a business entity search at the Secretary of State website and no such entity seems to be registered.
Here’s a pdf of the Teton Republican’s ad canceling the Shrimp Peel. The competing ad which claims the annual Shrimp Peel is on is below.
That candidate the GOP chair’s ad references is presumably Jim Anderson, the TEA Party right-wing challenger to Rep. Christy Clark. Clark is a pro-business legislator from Teton County. Both Clark and Teton County’s long-time state Senator, Llew Jones, face challenges from hard right-wingers who favor ideology over pragmatism and economic growth. Anderson self-anointed former evangelical preacher who moved here from Red Lodge several years ago and operates a business called Grizzly Sports which sells guns, outdoor wear and espresso.
Anderson wrote his own angry screed in the Fairfield Sun Times this week [PDF], in which he seems to be claiming that his attempts to hijack the event were not well taken and places blame for the kerfuffle on local volunteers who didn’t want their event hijacked by TEA partiers.
The TEA insurrectionists are angry that some Republicans had the backbone to stand up to the TEA Party minority last session and vote based on what’s good for Montana’s economy rather than TEA Party ideology. This horrifies TEA Partiers, but Montana voters expect rational thought. TEA partiers had hoped to hijack the government during the last legislative session. They succeeded on some things, like defeating a $6 billion infusion into Montana’s economy, but not on everything.