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Published on December 19th, 2017 | by Arch Stanton

The Island of Misfit Toys Running Against Jon Tester

Two major races will be settled on Montana’s November ballot, and it’s time to sort through the growing primary field.  This week we will look at the mostly shoddy cast of characters lining up to run against incumbent Senator Jon Tester (D)…it’s really an island of misfit toys.  We will look at Rep. Greg Gianforte’s challengers after Christmas.  

It’s early in the process, so we have a lot faces in the crowd. It’s like the first round of American Idol: lots of chaos and fun to watch.  

The Republican Challengers

Not surprisingly, the Republican field to challenge Sen. Jon Tester has raised more money than the Democratic candidates challenging Rep. Greg Gianforte. According to the FEC, the Republican candidates have raised a total of $1,095,339 — with Big Sky businessman Troy Downing raising the most money, followed closely by State Auditor Matt Rosendale. They will need the cash, as Senator Tester is starting with over $6 million cash-on-hand.

Republican front-runners have started their campaigns by exercising some questionable judgement. State Auditor Rosendale voiced his support for alledged child-molestor and confirmed crazy person Judge Roy Moore of Alabama who just lost the most winnable Republican seat in the country.  Troy Downing, on the other hand, has suggested he’s the target of a conspiracy perpetrated by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

State Auditor Matt Rosendale – Winning statewide office in 2016 provides Rosendale with the name recognition and experience no one else in the field can claim. Rosendale has started with a strong fundraising effort and energized his campaign with endorsements from conservative standard-bearers Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and former presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). However, Rosendale decided to weigh-in on the Roy Moore quagmire in Alabama (sorry for hyperlinking a Breitbart article). Endorsing Moore means Rosendale could find himself dodging awkward questions about “Reds,” birther conspiracies and Sharia Law until Election Day.

Troy Downing – Downing fits the mold of the new Montana Republicans – like Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte, he’s a California-connected, wealthy businessman. His candidacy started with controversy after he was accused of acquiring Montana resident hunting licenses without meeting the requirements of Montana residency. He has been further beleaguered by taxes relating to residency issues. Downing recently joined the black helicopter conspiracy crew by characterizing Montana’s Fish Wildlife and Parks as an extension of the liberal “Deep State.” Are Montana’s game wardens hardworking public servants, or Obama’s leftists brownshirts? You be the judge.

Albert Olszewski (Pr. Oh-sheh-ski) – The Orthopedic surgeon and Air Force veteran serves as a Republican member of the Montana Senate, where he represents parts of Kalispell. Olszewski has raised a significant amount of money, but his fundraising efforts trail far behind Rosendale and Downing. Sen. Olszewski is known as a sponsor of SB 10, a bill introduced in the special session that would have made it more difficult for transgender Montanans to change their gender identities on their birth certificates.

Russell Fagg – The former Yellowstone County District Judge and State Legislator Russell Fagg stepped down in October to assume private practice – and launch his campaign. He’s began his campaign by taking shots at Sen. Jon Tester for supporting ObamaCare and the Iran Deal.

Ronald Murray – Murray is a Belgrade resident and dog trainer by trade. In 2010, Murray ran for a state House seat and lost in the primary. His campaign ran into ethics issues when a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices Office was filed against Murray. After an investigation, the Commissioner concluded he inappropriately received services from the National Right to Work Committee, an anti-union 501(c)(4). Murray settled the “dark money” case with fine and community service.

James Dean – James Dean (not his real name) is one half of the Deans of Havre, the married couple who are running in separate primaries for the Senate seat: James is running as a Republican and his wife Sarah is running as a Democrat. Both Deans have several aliases and could possibly be operating at least a few scams. The most interesting thing about the Deans is that there’s a real possibility they are aliens from outer space.

The Democrat Challengers

Sarah Dean – Sarah is the other half of the Dean Duo. She is also known online as Pastor Victoria Dawn, where she’s said she is a San Francisco women’s ministry pastor in need of $3,500 for “going to India to feed the Widows.” She also claims that her father moved her and her family to Montana to start a child labor camp, but she doesn’t remember where. Yikes. *If remembers a child labor camp cropping up near them recently, please alert the authorities (and us).*

Greg Strandberg – Missoula resident Greg Strandberg has ran for Missoula area State House districts in 2014 and 2016 where he was defeated in the primaries. But what’s important is he has an outstanding website where he recounts getting trampled while running with the bulls in Spain and claims he’s authored more than 70 books including, Florida Sinkholes, Paranormal Montana, and my favorite Black Walnut: He’s Nuts!

The Green Party Challenger

Thomas Breck – Breck is a University of Montana student and Missoula resident. He was the Montana Green Party nominee for the special election, but denied a spot on the ballot after failing to collect the required number of signatures and suing for access to the ballot. If he makes it to the ballot, Breck could be a factor in a close election. Depending on the year, third parties can be popular in Montana. For example, libertarian candidate Dan Cox secured 31,892 votes or 6.6% in 2012.

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Arch Stanton



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