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Montana Politics

Why Is Ryan Zinke Running with Neil Livingstone?

Someone with a somewhat troubling degree of hero worship for Ryan Zinke seems to think that the state senator has made a bad choice hitching his political wagon to someone who still thinks we get around in wagons here in Montana.

Chris Peterson, writing in the Hungry Horse News, argues that Zinke has attached himself to a candidate who is too far right to win in the state:

He teamed up with Neil Livingstone and will run on the ticket as lieutenant governor.
Lieutenant governor? Huh? Zinke’s career hasn’t been defined by backup rolls. A lieutenant governor goes to luncheons and bake sales. It just seems out of character.
Livingstone also seems like a far more conservative candidate than Zinke. While they both tout cutting taxes, I’m not sure eliminating the corporate income tax in Montana is the right move. Does Wal-Mart really need a tax break?
This campaign might be interesting to watch, but it will forever make me wonder what could have been … rather than what will be.

While I don’t share Mr. Peterson’s effusive praise for Senator Zinke, I have to agree with his assessment. If Zinke thinks he can use Livingstone’s vast supply of money and self-regard to increase his own name recognition for a future run, he may want to rethink that strategy. Even though Steve Daines is almost certain to win the GOP nomination for the House, he almost no name recognition in the state following that campaign.

No one cares who ran for Lieutenant Governor, no matter how poorly they drive. Running as second fiddle to someone whose only campaign update in the past week has been a recipe for breaded pork seems like a strange decision indeed.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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