Montana Republicans Are Begging Greg Gianforte Not To Run for Governor on the Eve of His Announcement

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? 

Gianforte’s limitless resources and penchant for nasty, personal, and dishonest campaigns could well make Fox unelectable in the general election.

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.

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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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    • Tracey, you expressed my thoughts eloquently. Run and run hard! And I also wonder who is/are the Democratic candidates?

  • It appears the signers of this opinion letter are of the more moderate wing of the GOP Montana Party. I believe this isn’t where the majority of the Montana Republican Party is at this time. All you have to do is look at the results of the 2016 Montana election,the far right wing of the party swept all but the governors and attorney general offices. Also they continue to control the two houses of the Montana legislature. I am sure Gianforte has polls showing him a strong candidate against Fox.

  • Say what you will about Mr. GiGi, he has an instinct for when to fold ’em. The national legislature is headed to Democratic control thanks to the complete boob Trump and the Repugs submissiveness.

    Getting into state governance is where this craven punk intends to stick his proboscis. And, at last, the Dems may be able to get a twofer: Pick up the House (and wouldn’t Kathleen Williams be a breath of fresh air!) and derail Mr. Takedown himself with the right candidate. (Please step forward!)
    Hell Yeah!

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