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Greg Gianforte is Afraid to Debate Tim Fox and to Face Montanans

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Some news today from various media outlets that Greg Gianforte, who has the free time available to fly home on his private jet from D.C. every weekend, is ducking a debate against his Republican primary opponents Tim Fox and Al Olszewski, citing plans to spend time with family members on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving as a reason to skip out on a chance to speak to actual Montanans at the Helena event scheduled for November 26.

It’s the kind of pathetic excuse that would make Matt “Father’s Day” Rosendale blush.

Perhaps we should cut Gianforte some slack. After all, the grueling two or three days of work he puts in in Congress each week, not to mention the sham telephone townhalls he inundates Montanans with, must be exhausting. And just the thought of the ten whole days Gianforte will have to go back to work before taking another three-week vacation in December is too tiring to contemplate.

Little wonder that he’s unwilling to debate his two rivals, given that brutal schedule.

Gianforte’s rivals in the primary weren’t as forgiving, though.

Fox noted that “leadership demands character and integrity to stand before the voters and tell them what your vision is and how you will protect and advance our Montana conservative values” and Olszewski argued that “it’s disappointing to hear that Greg Gianforte has chosen not to participate in the debate and that the people of Montana will not have a chance to hear where he stands on some key issue.”

I think that both may be missing the point, however.

Gianforte isn’t afraid of either of them; he’s afraid that he might have to take a question from or interact with a member of the Montana public without a phone screener to hide behind.

While Steve Daines gives him a run for the title, there simply has never been a Montana politician more afraid of the people of Montana than Greg Gianforte. Gianforte, who has more assault charges than the average Montanan, is so terrified that someone will ask him a real question or demand that defend his indefensible votes in Congress that he’d duck any forum where he can’t control the questions and keep the common folk away from him.

He even thinks that we are “security risks.

We’ve had bad governors in Montana. We’ve had criminal governors in Montana. But we’ve never had a coward as governor.

Whether Gianforte is, as they contend, afraid of Fox and Olszewski, or, as I contend, afraid of the people of Montana, one thing is clear: he lacks the courage to lead this state.

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.

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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  • It’s both, really. When talking to donors, prospects and influentials, Greg and Susan Gianforte lie about Al and Tim nonstop. Why do that if you aren’t afraid in some way? Why do that if you’re the “clear frontrunner”?

    And yes, Greg is scared as hell at the prospect of a question his lackeys didn’t screen or plant.

    • The latest in the Giant Farce scam was of course his “round-table” discussion of forest policy held behind the gated privacy of an airport hangar here in Missoula County. None of those pesky voters to be found .. that’s for sure. The concepts being presented were fairly pre-historic so Greg fit right in. Thank God their is a politician in this state who understands that this is the “Last Great Place to Buy an Election”

  • why not? since when has the Montana press actually held him accountable for anything? Other than too little too late with the reporter-shoving thing.

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