The ridiculous bills and obstructionist chest thumping that characterized the 2015 legislature continues to backfire on Montana’s confederacy of TEA Party legislators. The latest: Primary challengers are popping up around the state against some of the session’s worst offenders.
Republican Mike Houghton, a Manhattan schoolteacher, has announced his candidacy for HD 67; the seat currently held by TEA Party poster boy Tom Burnett.
Houghton says he is running this time because of Burnett’s vote against the jobs and infrastructure bill, which was tanked by the TEA Partiers like Art Wittich and Austin Knudsen last session, angering business leaders, Republicans, and Democrats alike.
Houghton pointedly told the Bozeman Chronicle:
“As a taxpayer, I find it appalling that many of our local lawmakers have refused to support long-term investment in business and education infrastructure,” Houghton said. “This refusal to run state government like a business, transfers a tremendous burden to our children and grandchildren when they are left to repair what we did not maintain.
Burnett has not filed for re-election, and perhaps will also drop out rather than face an embarrassing defeat. Instead, he spends his days sending out frighteningly vapid email missives like these, packed with misinformation and logical fallacies. Given that Burnett’s grasp on reality tends toward tenuous (he claims avoiding porn will eliminate the need to fund treatment for mental illness, for example), it’s not clear whether he’s be able to decipher the writing on the wall.
A forth-generation Bozeman rancher named Walt Sales has announced his candidacy for Montana’s HD69, the seat currently held by Matthew Monforton. Mr. Sales is a fourth-generation rancher who has been a leader in water and growth issues in the Gallatin Valley. He founded the Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators, which was instrumental in passing the CSKT water compact, which Monforton opposed. Monforton in fact opposed most of the important bills during the 2015 session, including the jobs and infrastructure bill, the bi-partisan medicaid expansion alternative, and the dark money reform bill.
Monforton spent most of his time and energy trying to organize a circular firing squad within the GOP caucus, only to find out that a circular firing squad requires a level of accuracy of aim and geometric understanding of which his fellow TEA Partiers may not be capable. The faction suffered bitter humiliation whenever one of their ranks succeeded in grabbing the mic. That’s probably why not even a week went by after Sales announced his candidacy that Monforton realized the smell of toast wafting around the Gallatin valley and dropped out.
We also know that Republican Rep. Wendy McKamey will run against TEA Party Rep. Randy Pinnoci in the primary Pinnoci is the Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist who made headlines for the expletive laced tirade he held when he learned that the state budget included money to help deaf and blind children. Pinocci, who claimed to work “16-hour days,” was busted playing video games while the legislature was in session after he forgot to turn off his autopost settings. He introduced bills designed to address the supposed New World Order indoctrination of children and to require drug testing before poor seniors and families could get food.
Stay tuned. This is just the beginning.