With news reports confirming our earlier reporting that Greg Gianforte is likely to announce for governor as soon as tomorrow, one has to wonder who is the least excited about the likely news that New Jersey multimillionaire is planning to announce another bid?
Reporters, probably. Because of the punching and body slamming.
But right behind them might be Montana Republicans, who, desperate to finally regain the governorship, worry that a bitter, expensive Republican primary between Gianforte and Attorney General Tim Fox could open the door for another Democratic win.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Consider this opinion piece in the Independent Record today, in which three Republican officials practically beg Gianforte to stay out of the race:
If Gianforte chooses not to run as the incumbent for Congress, the subsequent “Republican shuffle” creates a strong likelihood that Democrats will regain power in our state.
The piece ran all over the state, from newspapers to talk radio, and echoes what political observers have long thought since the rumors that Gianforte would decide to run for governor became more credible: Republicans in Montana do not want Gianforte to run for governor.
It’s an open secret in Montana Republican politics that Gianforte isn’t especially well-liked, even among Republicans. Hard as it may be to imagine, being a prickly, arrogant, and self-righteous transplant from the East Coast isn’t exactly the most winning combination for a Lincoln-Reagan dinner, no matter how much money Gianforte has thrown to Republican candidates and causes over the years.
The real fear for Republicans, though, is that win or lose, Gianforte and his money will badly bruise the presumptive front runner Fox, who has never proven to be a particularly dynamic or effective campaigner. Even if Gianforte loses primary—a result I think is more likely than him winning—his limitless resources and penchant for nasty, personal, and dishonest campaigns could well make Fox unelectable in the general.
National Republican observers also fear that Gianforte’s ego trip could cost them a Congressional seat. As the right-wing News Max reports while repeatedly suggesting that Gianforte is a weak candidate, his decision opens the door to a Democrat like Kathleen Williams taking the seat:
With Gianforte leaving Congress, Republican strategists privately complain, the Big Sky Country’s lone U.S. House seat is now up for grabs and could easily go Democratic.
Along with his money, the one thing Gianforte has more than his share of is ego, and Republicans across the state and nation are worried about just how much damage that ego will do to their chances of regaining the governor’s seat here in Montana and the Congress in D.C.
I guess those are the risks a party takes when it’s desperate enough to let someone like Gianforte become one of its leaders, and I can’t wait for the show to begin.