A recent piece featured in Montana’s newspapers reaffirmed what we’ve all known for a while now: the GOP field of gubernatorial candidates is populated with fringe candidates. Dangerous candidates. Candidates that should not be running for dog catcher, much less Governor.
However, it’s also worth noting that former Congressman Rick Hill could possibly benefit from all this right-wing absurdity for a few reasons.
If it were just Hill and, let’s say, Ken Miller vying for the nomination, than Hill might be in trouble. In that situation, he would be forced to kowtow almost exclusively to the far right. But that’s not the case. Hill is running against a half dozen “ideologically pure Republicans” (if there is such a thing) who are sure to slice-up the far right vote. Without a united far right wing to worry about, Hill can look to establishment Republicans. His only real competition there is Essman, who is falling flat. So, Hill can wrap up the establishment vote and walk away with the nomination. Recent polling seems to confirm Hill is well on his way to winning the GOP’s nomination.
Not only does the crowded, absurd, and far right field of GOP candidates help Hill win the primary, but it may help him going into the General. When you line him up against this current crop of Republican candidates for governor, Hill almost comes off as a moderate. Of course, Hill is by no means a moderate. One need look no further than his current policy positions and past policy decisions to know that he’d be bad news for Montana. However, the candidates to his right have positioned Hill in a way that could help him with Independents.
I’m sure that Bullock will be quick to paint Hill as extreme and tie him to the mentality of the 2011 Legislature, but the job has been made more difficult due to the company Hill keeps (his fellow GOP candidates).