Randy Pinocci Threatens to Primary Steve Daines over the CSKT Deal That Divides Montana Republicans

While the threat is likely as empty as his understanding of what the PSC actually is charged with overseeing, it’s hard not to at least be amused by Randy Pinocci’s threat to primary Senator Steve Daines over the latter’s support for a bill that will finally resolve the long-simmering dispute over tribal water rights in Western Montana.

While it would be tempting to dismiss this as classic Pinocci or muse again about how the media has normalized leading Republican officials appearing on a militia news outlet, the real story is the divide that Republicans can’t seem to escape on the issue of CSKT.

On on side, we’ve got the business-oriented crowd who understand that failure to ratify the Compact will lead to endless litigation, litigation that the

The only time Montanans have seen Gianforte dodge faster is when he ducked into a getaway car following his assault on a reporter on the eve of his special election.
tribes will certainly win. On  another are people like Pinocci, who, without any understanding of treaty obligations, are willing to rest their argument on bigotry and their own poor understanding of the law.

Of course, because it’s the Republicans, there is a third group: the cowards like Greg Gianforte who refuse to take a position on this vital issue.

Even though Pinocci’s threat is an idle one, the divide over the CSKT deal will likely play a prominent role in the gubernatorial primary. Dr. Al Olszewski has been one of the leading opponents of settling the water rights claims since the Legislature debated it and Attorney General Tim Fox has offered his support for the Daines bill.

As for Congressman Gianforte? The only time Montanans have seen him dodge faster is when he ducked into a getaway car following his assault on a reporter on the eve of his special election.

Perhaps forgetting that he is an actual member of the U.S. Congress, this was the bold take he offered in December:

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, said Daines’ framework is a positive step forward, but that the compact passed by state lawmakers in 2015 has problems that must be addressed in any settlement.

That profile in cowardice is perhaps appropriate for Gianforte, who similarly refused to take a stand on the issue in 2016 when he was running around the state insulting its Indian peoples. Meanwhile, Gianforte has lacked the courage to even introduce a companion bill to the Daines proposal in the House.

It’s time for Montana and the federal government to meet their treaty obligations to the CSKT. And it’s far past time for every leading Montana Republican, including Greg Gianforte, to tell Montanans whether they side with treaty obligations or Randy Pinocci’s bigotry.

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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  • If your going to report about me you might do better to call me and get my side to your poor opinion about me. Your reporting is of no worth at all with out my side.
    This proper role is important to the voters of Montana as well as me.
    Your a coward.

    Randall Pinocci, Montana Public Service Commissioner for District 1.

  • I wouldn’t expect Pinocci to know grammar any better than he knows his responsibilities as a PSC Commissioner. He SHOULD challenge Daines in the Senatorial primary, giving some Montanans the choice between two cheeks of the same Republican butt. That said, it’s rather interesting that he’s reading this blog and responding to it. I enjoy a good joke.

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