Home Part of States Newsroom
Commentary
Trump’s chaos engulfs the Montana Republican Party

Share

Trump’s chaos engulfs the Montana Republican Party

Feb 16, 2024 | 6:40 am ET
By George Ochenski
Share
Trump’s chaos engulfs the Montana Republican Party
Description
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump mocks U.S. President Joe Biden while speaking during a Get Out The Vote rally at Coastal Carolina University on February 10, 2024 in Conway, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Republican primary on Feb. 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

If there’s one word to describe Donald Trump, it’s “chaos.”

He foments, spreads and leaves chaos like a twisted miasma in his wake. No one knows what he’ll do from minute to minute, what crazed, hateful and paranoid conspiracies he’ll make up and claim to be true — despite his well-documented record as the greatest liar in the history of American politicians.

While his contagion has spread through and infected the Republican Party nationwide, it’s now raised its ugly head in Montana’s GOP.

One only need read the accounts of the recent Montana Republican convention to clearly see the destructive nature of Trump’s influence. While billed as a “unity” gathering of the GOP faithful, it was anything but as it devolved into heated disagreements and even physical violence among the attendees.

Despite continually referring to Congress and the White House as “the swamp” and denouncing “top down” decision-making, the root of the fierce discord at the GOP convention appeared to be a perfect example of what they so vociferously condemn — taking orders from the “D.C. elite.”

To wit, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, headed by Montana’s junior Sen. Steve Daines, decided to hand-pick a political unknown to run against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

That pick would be Tim Sheehy, another Republican millionaire, former Navy SEAL and owner of a firefighting aviation service out of Bozeman. What’s hilarious is Daines’ own website claims he’s “bringing real change to Washington.” But actions speak louder than words, and there’s not much “real change” in allowing the GOP’s top dogs to call the shots on Montana’s candidates.

The rub, as they say, came when Montana’s current GOP congressman, “Mad Dog” Matt Rosendale, announced his candidacy in what would be his second attempt to unseat Tester, Montana’s last remaining statewide Democrat officeholder.
Despite being one of the most frenzied and loyal supporters of Donald Trump, including as a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, the word came down from on high that Rosendale would not garner his endorsement. Trump, who claims to value loyalty (to him) above all else, turned on Rosendale and endorsed Sheehy instead. Falling right in line with the D.C. elite was Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte — as well as Rep. Ryan Zinke who, after all, is used to taking orders from the top.
Given Trump’s long record of turning on those he once claimed to support, anyone who counts on him returning the loyalty he demands of others should rightfully expect betrayal. In a truly shallow and gratuitous gesture, Trump then announced that if Rosendale would just run for the House again, he would endorse him.
It’s safe to say Montana’s top GOP officeholders falling lock-step in line with the D.C. dictate did not sit well at the convention. As one attendee wrote: “When Rosendale walked up on stage, he received the loudest and longest standing ovation of the event. When Gianforte endorsed Sheehy, he was met with a smattering of boos and some left my table throwing down their napkins.”
Ironically, Rosendale had posted: “Mitch McConnell and the D.C. Cartel are TERRIFIED about me going to the U.S. Senate. They know they can’t control me; they know I won’t vote for McConnell as Leader. But they are fixin’ to find out that in Montana, we don’t take orders from Washington; we send orders to Washington!”
Since he’s now facing the “D.C. Cartel’s” hand-picked and well-funded candidate in the primary, when the votes are counted in the June primary, we’ll find out just who gives — and who takes — orders in the GOP.