Tester, Schweitzer and a special session charade
Gov. Greg Gianforte speaks on the Montana Capitol steps on March 13, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office)
It’s pretty tough to figure out who’s leading what’s left of the Montana Democratic Party these days.
The confusion has only been increased by what appears to be conflicting positions on seeking a special legislative session to deal with Montanans’ “shock and awe” when their tax bills arrive based on the new and severely inflated appraisals.
Normally, the highest-ranking elected member of the party would be seen as its leader. That would be Montana’s senior Sen. Jon Tester who, as it turns out, is “the last man standing” Democrat to hold a statewide office after his party lost every single statewide race in the last election.
Having had considerably more experience with the vagaries of special legislative sessions than the former governor, this column pointed out that the Democrats, facing a Republican supermajority in both chambers, would have exactly no chance at controlling any of the actions once the session was convened.
Oddly enough, the apparent confusion and conflicting strategies came to light in an op-ed column by Republican Sen. Brad Molnar. Unlike most of his GOP colleagues, Molnar actually tried three times to get enough signatures to poll fellow legislators on whether or not to convene a special session to deal with the property tax fiasco.
It also raises the question of whether the Schweitzerites’ call for a special session was sincere — or whether it was a political charade intended to simply provide a soapbox from which to assail Republicans.
And given that not one Democrat legislator would even support polling for a tax relief session, that it was a less-than-clever political charade seems much more likely.
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