Any candidate can get caught in a photograph with someone they’d rather not be seen with. In the social media age, anyone can post a picture of himself with a candidate or government official and it’s hardly the fault of the candidate if that person turns out to be someone awful.
But candidates do have control over the images they post on their own social media, and that’s what makes it so hard to understand why Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale keeps posting pictures of himself with some of the most deplorable bigots in Montana politics.
Yesterday, Rosendale’s campaign posted a series of pictures from a “day of action” in Helena that seemed to muster the level of enthusiasm that Rosendale has for showing up to do his job as Auditor. Included among the photos of six or seven people not paid to be there was this photo of Rosendale grinning at Tim Ravndal.
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) July 22, 2018
How bad is Ravndal? He was kicked out the TEA Party Patriots after endorsing a call to murder members of the LGBTQ community and suggesting that he endorsed the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. Heled a vanishingly small “rally” against Muslims here in Helena connected to the xenophobic hate group American Security Rally of Montana. Anyone who knows anything about Montana politics knows that he’s a toxic crank who espouses horrific views about immigrants, the LBGTQ community, and even basic human decency and there’s Matt Rosendale, gripping and grinning with the wannabe Revolutionary War hero.
You could write this off as an oversight from a campaign that clearly doesn’t know what to do with its candidate, but this is the second time in months that Rosendale’s campaign has celebrated him spending time with a dangerous bigot. Back in April, it was Republican State Senator David Howard:
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) April 23, 2018
Howard’s bigotry and penchant for violent rhetoric are so obvious that the Billings Gazette, relying heavily on work from The Montana Post, has written two editorials condemning him. The second time, Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick included this argument:
But the condemnation of Howard is not complete because he is just a symptom — another manifestation — of a very sick political problem. Simply put, politicians are willing to broker any alliance, find validation in any corner, and embrace the loathsome just to outmaneuver each other in some game of ideological or political purity.
In other words, politics is simply a matter of ends without any consideration of means.
The issue he raises seems like one Rosendale should answer. Is he posting photos of himself with people like Ravndal and Howard because he is “willing to broker any alliance, find validation in any corner, and embrace the loathsome” to win election to the Senate? Does he not mind celebrating those who called for the death of LGBTQ kids and the President? Is he unwilling to, if not challenge their abhorrent views, at least not celebrate them?
Or is the answer simpler? Is his campaign staff this terrible?
I’d love to know which is true, and I think Montana voters deserve to know, too.