Note: This is a guest opinion piece by Rep. Jesse O’Hara (R-Great Falls). As I mentioned earlier, the Cowgirl Blog welcomes guest post submissions. The blog has in the past an will continue to consider guest opinion pieces from conservatives/Republicans subject to my discretion. Rep. Jesse O’Hara, while of a different political party and with whom I and readers here will disagree on many points, has a reputation for being a thoughtful and effective lawmaker who puts his constituents first. Note also that Wittich is said to be seeking a leadership position in the house after recruiting primary opponents against current members of the house. The piece below came with the following introduction:
My name is Jesse O’Hara and I am currently serving as a State Representative from Great Falls Montana, albeit I am vacationing at my winter home in Florida at the moment. I can be reached at 1-406-781-3333, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. My Great Falls address is: 2908 Wells Fargo, Great Falls, Mt. 59404.
Last session I was the longest serving member in the Montana House. What I witnessed was an extremist group going to almost any lengths to purify the Republican Party. Senate Majority Leader Wittich consistently spoke to the positives of every Republican having a primary, even saying that he planned on having one. He constantly prattled on that primaries were good in that they allowed the voter to pick between Republican ideologies, and that the voter would pick the extreme ideology. Then, in the last few minutes of the last day, he fled from a primary to an uncontested race. It seems he was and is a hypocrite. Primaries are only good for others.
In my five decades of political activity, including serving as both a State Senator and Representative, I have never seen anything quite like this.
Sometimes, to defend poor choices, a man’s bravado has his mouth writing checks his butt can’t cash. This appears to have been the scenario facing Senator Wittich in the final hours of filing for legislative office.
First, a history lesson: Wittich and his associates, while safely nestled in the warm embrace of Dark Money, have made it their mission to inform Republicans that primaries are good for the party. They justified this claim by stating that primaries have a uniquely “purifying” power that forces candidates to “own their vote.”
It seems an opponent was listening. On the final day of election signups, Wittich had the opportunity to put his hollow maxim to the test – to finally live by the words he preached. A primary loomed.
Nervous and caught unaware, Wittich began to ponder …
Maybe his singular dubious accolade, a stellar rating on Koopman’s cherry-picked scorecard (TAB), didn’t have the star power envisioned?
Maybe the verdict on his failed leadership would haunt him? Would anybody actually believe the fable that his failure to lead was somebody else’s fault?
Maybe he feared that the voters would uncover his efforts to dismantle public education? Or his reference to volunteer school trustees as members of a ‘commie’ club?
Or maybe, just maybe, it was the zero he received on the Montana University System scorecard? Bozeman is a university town and his constituents might find it unsettling that Senator Wittich’s only support for the university was empty lip service.
By closing time, Senate Majority Leader Wittich had decided that an open discussion of his record, his leadership failure, and his looming legal troubles was a sure recipe for defeat. He disowned his principles and fled the primary to an uncontested House race. Can anyone say – hypocrite?
Representative Jesse O’Hara