As I reflect on the 66th Legislature I cannot but help to tell you my utmost truth, because to me truth is much more interesting than political cliché.
Minority Leader Casey Schneider is correct. All his party's major goals were accomplished. His minority party, along with the moderate “Solutions Caucus” Republicans, controlled the deciding votes this session.
To be forthright myself and most legislators voted for the civil and criminal revisions on child sex assault, firefighter’s compensation benefits, and Hanna’s Act. There are issues everyone can agree on. What I can’t for the life of me understand is the division within the Montana Republican Party.
I walked into a room with a lot of lines already drawn as I entered the Capitol this January. People with biases and grudges I was not aware of. Our hard-working speaker Greg Hertz had to manage egos and division within his own caucus. Greg did an amazing job this winter. His work ethic and leadership gave me pride to serve with him. Unfortunately for him, and the rest of our minority conservative caucus, we were the unrepresented minority in deciding votes that raised our taxes. As Conservatives we created a meme, our real vote count was 38-62, “the 38 special.” Conservative voices were kept out of the discussion on major issues. It was fascinating to watch.
While the conservative caucus was a minority this session, I see success for our belief systems and our party in the future at a state-level. We will have genuine federal leadership next election cycle in regard to health care.
With a Republican state governor all the solutions caucus games stop. The solution for conservatives is to primary those within our party who we disagree with politically. We must do this by having better candidates, and greater conservative energy in our central committees. Let us not resort to name-calling, whining and disparaging remarks on the internet or salacious attacks. The correct path forward is to find better candidates and win the vote where it belongs, at the doors of our constituents next summer.
David Dunn, Whitefish