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
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.