Two For Thought
By Joe Carbonari
In his run for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat Ryan Zinke faces the classic Republican primary dilemma.
Can he appear conservative enough to win the primary without destroying his chances in the general election?
He ran successfully for the Montana Senate, in 2009, and has participated in two sessions of the Legislature, representing an ideologically split Whitefish Senate district. His curious 2012 run as the lieutenant governor portion of the political dilettante Neil Livingstone’s gubernatorial ticket gave Zinke statewide exposure and, arguably, some conservative credentials. One wonders if that wasn’t the plan all along.
My guess is that it will come down to Zinke vs. Corey Stapleton as the more electable alternatives to the seemingly ultra-conservative Matt Rosendale. Guessing again, I suspect that John Lewis, ex-Baucus aide and thus far the sole Democratic candidate, would much prefer facing Rosendale.
He is likable, intelligent, well-spoken, and politically experienced.
In my opinion, the only question that remains relates to his political courage.
Will he be able to call his own shots, to follow his conscience, in the face of the pressures he will inevitably face from his necessarily more conservative supporters?
I think, yes. But let’s watch.
By Tim Baldwin
Ryan Zinke and Corey Stapleton will likely be the top Republican primary race candidates.
However, what is “conservative enough” is not as clear because conservatism is noticeably changing – some would say fracturing. How this translates into successful Republican primary races will be studied by political scientists for years to come. In the meantime, Zinke likely has what it takes to draw support among most conservatives.
A former Navy Seal commander, Zinke possesses leadership and team playing skills.
His state voting record shows he is interested in the merits of legislation more than which party proposed it and his lieutenant governor race demonstrates his willingness to step outside the political box to accomplish political goals.
But Zinke’s personal conscience should not be his compass in making political decisions that affect millions of Montanans and Americans.
The real political courage test for any politician is to be objective: to identify the problems, state the (short and long term) goals to solve them, set the plans to accomplish the goals, and get it done using proper methods – all while following the Constitution.
On that point, unlike Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (R-Calif.) description of Congress’ role, Zinke expresses that he will uphold the Constitution as a lawmaker and not just make laws to let the federal courts sort out the constitutional questions.
If Zinke sticks to this platform, he will be politically successful.