Montana Politics Steve Daines

Representative Rehberg and the Montana Legislature

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If I were an enterprising reporter in the state of Montana, I’d certainly be asking Representative Rehberg for his opinion about the Montana Legislature.

So, despite talking all the time, Rehberg has nothing to say.

Rehberg has demurred in town hall meetings, telling constituents who ask about the Legislature that “they’d be pretty mad at him if he spent his time paying attention to the Legislature,” but that’s a disingenuous position at best. Many of the most controversial bills from this session are exactly the kinds of issues in which Rehberg’s experience and “leadership” could be quite helpful. Whether it’s wolf management and the Endangered Species Act, medical marijuana and law enforcement, or even Sheriffs First! legislation, many of the bills are at the nexus of federal and state control. Rehberg should have an opinion.

He’s also the leader of the Republican Party in the state. For all their legislative gains in 2010, Rehberg remains the sole statewide elected Republican, a position that demands leadership, practically and traditionally.

Of course, Rehberg’s being coy because he realizes the bind he’s created for himself. He hitched himself to the TEA Party Express just as the movement was going off the rails and headed into territory that voters are entirely unwilling to follow them into. If Rehberg speaks out against the Bob Wagners and James Knoxes of his party, his risks alienating the fringe, who represent a troubling percentage of the people in his party. If he endorses their ideas, most charitably described as “kooky,” he risks alienating the vast majority of Montanans.

So, despite talking all the time, Rehberg has nothing to say.

On another note, I’d probably ask Steve Daines, too, since he donated to many of this session’s leading intellectual lights, like James Knox.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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