Meet a Legislative Candidate: David Howard (SD 29)

One of the more interesting tidbits from today’s initial filing day was that Republican Representative David Howard of Park City filed for SD-29, a seat that presumably will be defended by Republican Jason Priest of Red Lodge. Priest was first elected in 2010, and has demonstrated a commitment to dark money campaigns, homophobic slurs, and pulling Jeff Essman’s strings.

But Howard might actually be worse. Howard is best known in the state for pushing LR-121, a unnecessary, cruel law designed to crack down on Montana’s practically non-existent illegal immigration problem.

During his term in the Legislature, Howard has been a reliably insane voice for the Republican Party, including voting for such sensible positions as allowing students to bring guns to schools, nullifying federal law, outlawing abortion and health education, continuing to criminalize sexual behavior he disagrees with, and budgets that punish the poor in truly Christ-like fashion.

He’s also an old-fashioned bigot and conspiracy theorist, whose actions include:

At the moment, Howard and Joanne G. Blyton are two declared candidates for SD 29, but’s it’s rumored in Republican circles that the primary will be a three-way race. Surely, the people of SD 29 can do better.

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.

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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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  • This is someone I’d like to work with. He makes a great case why Montana needs to get on this legalized marijuana movement that’s happening across the Rocky Mountain West. Let me just use Howard’s words here:

    “6 x 6,000 is 36,000 plants.

    And do you know that 36,000 x 7 oz is 52,000 ounces?

    Times $225 street value is $57.6 million bucks.

    Times 3. Add in the other 22,000 cards and you’ve gotta billion dollar business.

    And what are they going to spend that money for? We have, you have, no idea.”

    That’s right, we have no idea because instead of talking about legitimate options that now have proven track records in other states we’re playing to people’s fears.

    I’d tell you what I’d like to spend that money for, and it’s schools, LIEAP, head start programs, local food banks, and other needs that local communities have right now.

    I think a lot of people in 2015 won’t be persuaded by those words of fear, but by words of commerce and the promise of Montana’s second gold rush.

    We have the opportunity to take more wealth from the soil of Montana than we did in the mid-1860s. Long-term the benefits to the state are sustainable, measurable, and just common sense for hardworking people.

    • I just want to add that 25% of $57.6 million is $14.4 million.

      What were some of the dollar amounts that people in Helena were arguing over last time?

      How much revenue can this model produce for programs that saw funding cut? How much could be given back to tax payers through property tax rebates?

  • As to Howard’s bill LR-121. From the last sentence of your link.

    ” A recent Lee newspapers poll of found that 57 percent of registered voters surveyed favored his ballot measure; 14 percent were undecided.”

    Doing the math only 29% oppose.

    • Ingy, here is the problem with your statement. Yes, LR 121 did pass in Montana by an overwhelming majority. There is just one small, tiny little problem with it. It is likely unconstitutional – just like the similar law that was passed in Arizona. You see, you simply can’t “vote” away people’s civil rights. Our forefathers ensured that.

      That law was challenged before the ink was even dry and as of now, there is a judicial injunction preventing it from being enforced. It still hasn’t gone before the Montana Supreme Court (at least not that I can find) and when it does, it is likely to be found unconstitutional as a violation of civil rights. Even if the Montana Supreme Court (as slanted as it is now) finds in favor of it’s authors, it will still have to survive a Federal Supreme Court Challenge and there is NO way it will survive that.

      The fact that you support this legislation says volumes about you, though. Conservative or Liberal – civil rights are not up for a vote. They are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. You might want to read that document once in a while.

      • I like your defense. “Likely unconstitutional”.

        Of course we can also say they’re trespassers. It all depends on which law you chose to enforce.

        The “volumes” that can be said about me can also be said of 57% of Montanans.

        So I’m in good company.

        • Not so much Ingy, on a number of fronts.

          First, I used the words “likely unconstitutional because it hasn’t been adjudicated yet. Those were the words used by the Judge when he issued the injunction.

          Further, there is a difference between the (majority) of the 70% of Montanans that voted for LR 121. They were fooled with misinformation and monster making. You, on the other hand, don’t seem to care. You support it and that should be good enough. Horse manure.

          You can’t have it both ways, Ingy. Either a person has civil rights or they don’t. You either support the constitution or you don’t. Pick a side. This bill is almost identical to the Arizona bill that has already been found to be unconstitutional. The lawmakers pushing this bill (like Howard) already knew that, but they wanted to make monsters and the monster of the day was undocumented workers. Without a shed of proof or justification, they were able to whip up outrage over the very idea that an illegal alien “might” use public services, so they saddled us with a bill that will cost the Montana Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce. It was well done – this monster making- and it was effective. Even liberals – the protectors of our civil rights – knuckled down and voted for this racist, unconstitutional piece of crap. Now we can only wait for the courts to inject some much needed sanity back into the debate. I will say it again since you must have missed it the first time – civil rights are not a voting matter. They are laid out in our founding documents. They are rights that must be protected – sometimes even from the voters.

          I would point out that our history for voting on civil rights issues is usually not a good one. Left to the voters, time and time again, we see the voters vote AGAINST civil rights. That is why we have a constitution and that constitution set a judiciary system to protect those rights.

            • Hey Einstein. Here’s your law.

              “The illegal alien population is composed of those who illegally enter the country (referred to as “entry without inspection — EWI”) in violation of the immigration law, and others enter legally and then sty illegally (referred to as overstayers). The immigration authorities currently estimate that two-thirds to three-fifths of all illegal immigrants are EWIs and the remainder is overstayers. Both types of illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says: “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”

              • Ingy, as a former Law Enforcement officer (coincidentally in an area with a high migrant population), I would be willing to bet that I know just a touch more about it than you do. I am fully aware that 60 – 80% of all illegals are EWI’s and I am also aware that is, well, illegal, to do so. That said, you still haven’t answered the basic question – How big a problem was this in Montana? Did it justify a law that would conservatively cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce? More importantly, does this “problem” justify violating the civil rights of those immigrants in the US legally or those US citizens that just happen to “look” like an immigrant?

                • I’m impressed.

                  Were you let go because you looked the other way when it came to law breakers?

          • And then there’s the 10th amendment to the constitution.

            “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

            Again, pick and choose your law.

  • Am I reading this correctly that this is a potential primary battle between Howard and Jason Priest? Wow I don’t know how you could possibly get any lower. Maybe if Skees jumped in as well. You kind of have the dark money corporate king vs. the true believer nutjob…who ya got?

        • We will see but all the “odds takers” are giving this one to Skees at this point and there is little reason not to. The filing period doesn’t end until mid March so we will see who ends up filing in that race.

        • True, the seat leans republican but I believe SKees is just crazy enough to lose it. Whether its to Galen Holenglaugh, another dem or a primary challenger. If I recall he had substantially less votes in his statewide election than any of the other statewide GOP candidates. Responsible people..including many republicans and independents…know him to be a crazy person. Of course Koopman still won a seat too so who knows right?

  • How many of you know or encounter illegal immigrants on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis?

    I’m willing to bet it’s quite low, so what’s this fear all about? Personally I was raised thinking men should be brave, not scared, yet that’s all I see coming out of that area of Montana.

    My wife’s Russian and we’ve been dealing with ICIS in Helena to get her a Green Card. I’m married to her and she’s the mother of my child, but that doesn’t make it any easier or faster.

    And according to her passport she’s now overstayed her welcome. Know what the feds said? “Don’t leave the country.”

    She’s also got a masters degree and speaks 3 languages. In other words she’s more valuable to this state than a sizeable portion of its own citizens, citizens who are ignorant, lazy, and a drain on our resources.

    Sad fact is that most Montanans aren’t worth the shit that collects on the bottom of my boot after walking across a field. I can understand why most never leave the state – no one would want them because, frankly, their worthless.

    When I see ignorance spewed forth by that guy Howard it’s hard not to think like this. What value does he have to me and my kid? What value does he have to the future of this state?

    • “Sad fact is that most Montanans aren’t worth the shit that collects on the bottom of my boot after walking across a field. I can understand why most never leave the state – no one would want them because, frankly, their worthless.”

      Will this be on your flyers when you run for the legislature?

      • I doubt it, I seem to have misplaced my Rolodex of dark money contributors so probably won’t have money for things like that.

        But I wouldn’t be afraid to say that while in the living rooms of my constituents if that’s what you’re asking. I’m not afraid to lose an election because I don’t need to be a politician.

        I do need a state my son doesn’t have to move out of to get a job, however, and comments like those from this man wouldn’t make me want to move my business to the state.

      • Fair enough. I agree he is a lowdown snake but I would have to disagree that most of the people in Montana aren’t worth the shit on your boots. In fact that would seem to make you guilty of the same type of generalizations that may frustrate you about immigrants when coming from the David Howards of the world.

        • Yes, you’re right, I went a little too far there. But I feel that’s a sentiment directed at many of the less-well-off of the state by many of those currently serving in Helena.

          Now why wouldn’t Montanans be worth anything? Could it be that some of our institutions have failed them? Or maybe they’ve failed themselves? Maybe they’ve done everything they can but still can’t seem to catch a break.

          The sad truth is that when you’re struggling in Montana today you have few options available. If you’ve got a couple kids and you’re struggling your chances of pulling yourself up are even tougher.

          There’s a lot blame and ire directed at our problems, but too few solutions. Let’s get our fears and even biases out there – there’s nothing wrong with that – but then let’s discuss how we can overcome them so the many of the state can benefit and not just the few.

    • Sad fact is that most Montanans aren’t worth the shit that collects on the bottom of my boot after walking across a field. I can understand why most never leave the state – no one would want them because, frankly, their worthless.

      Greg, sorry about your wife’s challenges but attacking Montanans is not only highly offensive, but just plain wrong, and it does nothing to help your wife. Young educated Montanans are highly valued. More are leaving the state than arriving to live. In fact given that outflow Montana is headed to becoming one of the top 5 oldest generation states. Whatever the solution to your problem is, looking at Montanans as no more that shit on the bottom of your boots isn’t it.

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