Governor 2020 Rumors and Rumblings: Whitney Williams Polling? Gianforte Has the GOP Primary Locked Up?

Some quick takes on the 2020 race for governor.

A number of people are reporting that Whitney Williams, the daughter of former Congressman Pat Williams and State Senator Carol Williams, has moved back to Montana and has a poll in the field establishing the strength of the Republican candidates for governor. Williams running for office is one of the oldest and most enduring rumors in Montana politics, but her entry could bring some energy to the race for governor.  I am all for the field of Democrats having a clean, energetic debate to choose their candidate.

The simmering feud between those who support Greg Gianforte and those who support Tim Fox just keeps heating up. And while it makes sense given the fact that he owes much of his political career to his connection with Gianforte, it’s interesting that Steve Daines is telling people that “the primary is already over” and Gianforte will run away with it.

Of course, that perception could be fueled by dishonest polling conducted for Gianforte. Republican strategist, expert in voter disenfranchisement, and recipient of government largesse Jake Eaton has been touting Gianforte’s strength as a candidate on brochures touting poll results. It’s hard to believe anything Eaton is behind, but even harder to believe when the poll results show 108% of respondents answering a hypothetical matchup between Mike Cooney and Greg Gianforte.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 2.29.32 PM.pngThis, as they say, isn’t Eaton’s first rodeo with misleading polls. As far back as 2011, Eaton, then at 47 North, was presenting deeply problematic polls to convince Montanans that they opposed medical marijuana and supported Denny Rehberg, so anyone persuaded by Gianforte polls may want to reconsider.

Gianforte has chosen an interesting strategy thus far in the campaign. While his ads promote his strength as a businessman, the appeal to conservatives on social media has largely focused on the inevitability of his win. Given his willingness to spend limitless funds and just how comfortable he seems to be in the darkest corners of the conservative political sewer, he might just be right.

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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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  • Whitney Williams running for governor? Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m sorry, but having parents who were politicians and working for Hillary Clinton and then raising money from celebrities while living out-of-state without an iota of experience in MT for many years and NO experience at all in government does not bode well for a run for Governor. Perhaps she should try running for legislature, first? Or at least consider running as a repub where experience and roots doesn’t seem to matter. Her folks are fine people with a LOT of years serving Montana. Whitney is probably a great person — but there are plenty of great people in this increasingly GOP dominated state that don’t have a chance in a million at becoming our next governor. And even Bullock is bailing from the chance to run for statewide office in MT in 2020. I am certainly not going to be one of her supporters.

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