Brad Johnson

Election interference is on full display in Montana, but it has nothing to do with Democrats running ads attacking would-be Republican U.S. Senate nominee Tim Sheehy. It, rather, has to do with Mitch McConnell, Steve Daines, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee taking it upon themselves to dictate to Montana Republicans who their nominee should be.

In my hour-long meeting with Senator Daines at the NRSC office in D.C. last December, he made it clear that, in his view, there is no place for another candidate in this race. The Senator had no desire to talk about policy, experience, or electability.

In fact, money was the only subject he chose to discuss. Therein lies the McConnell-Daines strategy; find a handpicked puppet that they can buy a Senate seat for and then completely control.

We have seen a tremendous amount of TV, radio, and direct mail advertising in support of the candidacy of Mr. Sheehy. Nearly all of it has been paid for by the Daines political action committee. The Daines ads would have us believe that Sheehy is a rancher, cowboy and political outsider. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moving to Montana and buying a big ranch doesn’t make you a cowboy. And when your company is over 90% dependent on federal dollars and you’ve been recruited, promoted, and funded as a candidate for U.S. Senate by two of the most powerful insiders in Washington, DC, you are no political outsider. With this kind of dependence on The Swamp, and two of its most prominent players, there is no way Tim Sheehy can be expected to be an independent voice for Montana. That, of course, is exactly what McConnell and Daines want - a Montana Senator who is completely beholden to them.

It is interesting to note that ads run by the Daines PAC, attacking the ads run by a Democrat PAC, whine about supposed election interference - but they don’t dispute the assertions made in those ads. The Minority Leader and NRSC Chairman are deeply committed to shoving a completely unknown, untested Minnesota millionaire – with no record, down the throats of Montana Republicans – while accusing Democrats of interfering in Montana’s Republican primary. This is the quintessential example of the pot calling the kettle black.

The purpose of a Montana Republican Senate primary election is for Montanan Republicans to choose their Senate candidate. Republican voters are wholly capable of making that choice without the heavy hand of Washington, DC insiders and powerbrokers trying to dictate the outcome. Montana Republicans deserve a real primary election, not a coronation.

As former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Public Service Commission, I have proven electability and a real record for Montanans to judge. Mr. Sheehy has neither.  Mitch McConnell and Steve Daines need to get their thumbs off the scale and let Montana Republicans choose their Senate candidate without further outside interference from The Swamp.

Brad Johnson is a former Montana Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission and is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.