By Scott Bixler
On Thursday May 25, Montana voters will either choose to continue the tradition of big money buying our elections or will vote for a true local who represents the majority of Montanans.
This rather presumptuous statement can be validated by a nostalgic walk down memory lane reviewing some of our most memorable election buyouts. During the 1892 election for the location of Montana’s State Capitol, the Anaconda Company (Marcus Daly) spent $2.5 million to buy the election for Anaconda, while William Clark spent $500,000 to assure Helena the prize.
In 1899, Clark practically purchased the entire Montana Legislature to ensure his election to the United States Senate. Clark is reported to have said, “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale.” This little scandal led to the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requiring senators be elected by popular vote.
Like the oligarchs of Montana’s past, Greg Gianforte has enlisted the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund to buy Montana voters. These Washington, D.C.-based PACs are dedicated solely to increasing the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and answer to no one. Neither group has ties to Montana or cares about Montana and the issues affecting the fourth largest state in the Union; they simply want to elect a Republican to Congress.
The choice is as clear as it is simple: Kowtow to the big money, out-of-state PACs and continue the tradition by voting for an East Coast millionaire, or send Rob Quist, a true Montanan, to Congress.
Scott Bixler is a longtime Missoula resident and former Missoula County Public Schools board member.