Is a Hobby “Rancher” From Maryland Someone Who Should Be Lecturing Us on Montana Values?

When he hasn’t been busy this week defending himself against charges that he perjured himself in a real estate deal to gain a tax break or against allegations from fellow Republicans that he’s using his government position to campaign on the public’s dime, full-time Senate candidate and part-time State Auditor has been braying about “Montana values” and who possesses them.

It’s a fascinating strategy for someone who has defended a man who preyed on teenage girls because he’s a Republican. Or someone who has celebrated the endorsement of Steve Bannon, a man who has helped spread white nationalism in America. Or someone who, we learned just this week, hired someone who lied to the people of Montana and the press about that time Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter to be his Communications Director.

I’m not sure exactly what “Montana values” are, but I am sure those actions aren’t.

All of this talk about being a real Montanan and living an authentic life here are also interesting choices for Rosendale, given that he’s presenting a false persona in pursuit of yet another elected office in Montana. Rosendale, in his campaign material, describes himself as a “rancher,” a term that, for me, suggests a person who raises and runs livestock.

That’s apparently not what it means to a Maryland real estate developer, though. In an interview with a hometown newspaper, Rosendale described his ranching life out West like this:

“There’s a bunch of irrigated ground and I lease it to one of my neighbors and he grows crops on it, and then there’s dry farmland and I lease that to another neighbor, and then I’ve got all the native pasture and I lease that to another guy who runs cattle,” he explained.

Dude, that’s not a rancher.

Rosendale continued to talk about what a generous neighbor he’s been:

When hunting season comes, I probably have 50 to 70 people that I allow to come through my property to hunt.

That’s got to be at least a couple of people a weekend. Mighty generous stuff, that.

I don’t care where Matt Rosendale was born. I do care, though, when someone who maybe hasn’t internalized our values of honesty and basic decency, someone who pretends to be something he’s not, whether that’s a rancher or a State Auditor, has the gall to lecture other people, especially those who have worked for the interests of Montana their entire careers, about what it means to be a Montanan.

Matt, we’ve let you play cowboy. We even made the mistake of letting you play State Auditor. We’re sure as all not going to let you play Senator from the great state of Montana, though.

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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