Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

The Zinke Campaign Responds Well to Letters, Too

It seems that the campaign staff working for Senator Zinke respond as well to criticism as the candidate does. In the wake of denunciations of candidate Zinke by Republican luminaries like Ken Miller, Rick Hill, and John Brenden, a series of letters have appeared in Montana criticizing Senator Zinke for his tendency to flip flop on issues critical the Republican base, including abortion and guns.

Today, another letter appeared in the Billings Gazette, criticizing Zinke for his lack of consistency. In a strongly worded letter, Jim Kelly of Billings writes:

Zinke has flipped and flopped on every issue from abortion to gun control and just about everything else, depending on what crowd he speaks to.

By now, that’s not news. Anyone who has followed Zinke’s political career is familiar with his willingness to change his position at the drop of a hat. What’s amusing about the story is the way his campaign has responded. Zinke’s political director Randy Vogel bizarrely left a comment on the letter, including the following observation:

It’s very easy for them to send out hate mail from afar to their former donor lists with false aspersions and half truths. And, unfortunately, you fell into their trap and are supporting a guy who commits felonies by shooting someones property (airplane,drone, helicopter, or whatever) out of the air. Not to mention violating one of the basic tenants of firearms safety.

It’s hard not to enjoy reading Vogel criticizing Matt Rosendale for pretending to fire a gun at an imaginary drone in a TV commercial, given Vogel’s own familiarity with gun charges. Back in 2010, Vogel, who was then Dennis Rehberg’s state director was charged with poaching and obstructing a peace officer.

It makes sense that Zinke and his campaign staff would be sensitive to charges he flips and flops more an IHOP chef. The truth tends to sting more than accusations that are false, and given that Zinke is calling himself a “Montana Conservative” just one year after telling the Portland Tribune that he was a moderate, the charges seem quite fair. According to the Tribune in May of last year:

He is writing a book titled, “The Rise of the Middle.”

“I take the middle of the political spectrum,” Zinke says. “Middle America is us. Most folks are not particularly political. They’re paying taxes and working hard. They’re not being well-represented, but we have to get them to become part of the movement. The government has almost become a self-licking ice cream cone. The middle has to be moved as part of our political process.”

Moderate or conservative, one thing’s for sure: Zinke’s a political opportunist who will say anything to win—and that kind of candidate can’t represent Montana in Washington.

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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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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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