Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-MT, plans to announce in the next few days whether he will run for governor of Montana. The expectation is that he has already made a decision to do so.
He probably shouldn’t.
What’s the worst that could happen? That’s easy. Montana Republicans give up a safe seat in Congress, get locked out of the governor’s mansion for the fifth time in 16 years, and give Jon Tester bragging rights for swinging Montana further left.
Gianforte, whom I like personally, has already lost the race for governor once — and that was before he got in a fight with a reporter and made himself a target of national ridicule. Yes, there will be no Democratic incumbent this time around, but Montana voters are an ornery bunch and they probably won’t reward Gianforte for changing horses in midstream.
As a congressman, Gianforte has been a reliable Trump supporter and he has earned the respect of voters for that. He could probably be easily re-elected in that capacity, but Montanans have a different yardstick for governors. After four terms of Democratic governors, the time is ripe for a change, but Gianforte’s personal attributes (self-made millionaire, fundamentalist Christian, reporter assaulter, born in another state) could work against him in another bid for governor.
What’s worse, if he runs for governor, it throws the race for Montana’s sole US House seat into turmoil. Matt Rosendale, who just lost his race for Senate against vulnerable Democrat Jon Tester, would probably run. Again, although Rosendale would be a reliable pro-Trump vote in Congress, he has some personal attributes that rub Montanans the wrong way — born and raised out of state, ambitious, wealthy, political animal — and could spell defeat in what should be a safe seat.
But if Republicans didn’t make things hard for themselves, they wouldn’t be Republicans, right?
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To support my work, please consider buying my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy, which documents the downward spiral of the USA before Trump arrived on the scene. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Thanks!