Dear MSSA Friends,
MSSA has been wrestling over what advice to offer Montana gun owners
concerning the two congressional races for the Montana Primary
Election, the western district and the eastern district. MSSA bases
its candidate evaluations on everything that we know about existing
candidates. This includes voting records for those who have occupied
public office, such as in the Montana Legislature or other. It
includes answers on MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire. Generally, MSSA
would prefer one voting record to five candidate questionnaires.
Voting records never lie. The information MSSA considers includes
public statements by candidates and any other known and relevant
MSSA takes such candidate evaluations very seriously. I have always
insisted that MSSA must have a solid basis for such evaluations and
for any endorsements. These races are not a popularity or beauty
contest for MSSA. They are serious business.
In the western district, there are nine candidates for three parties.
In the Primary Election, a voter may only vote on one party ballot.
The Primary Election is actually a nomination process by which each
party’s single candidate is selected to square off against the lone
candidates of other parties in the General Election in November.
In the Republican Primary there are five candidates seeking the
party’s approval. There are three Democrats, and one Libertarian.
Since the Libertarians have only one candidate, John Lamb, voters only
get that choice if they vote the Libertarian ballot. MSSA doesn’t do
endorsements when there is only one candidate and no contest.
Among the Democrats, only Tom Winter has a voting record. MSSA scored
Winter as a “D” in 2018 because of his voting record in the
Legislature. For this 2022 congressional race, none of the Democrat
contenders returned the MSSA Candidate Questionnaire (CQ). So, there
is no candidate in the Democrat Primary who warrants an MSSA
The Republican field for the western congressional district has five
contenders. Matt Jette did not return MSSA’s CQ and has no voting
record. At the recent MSSA candidate debate he suggested that some
gun control might be appropriate.
Mitch Heuer did not return MSSA’s CQ and has no voting record. He is
dedicated to fixing things and practical solutions. That makes one
wonder where principle fits in for him and if he would stray to
supporting gun control if he were persuaded that would fix an alleged
problem. With no voting record, that is problematic.
Mary Todd has no voting record but she did submit a fine CQ. However,
her primary reason for running is to seek justice for her son, who was
allegedly murdered. It’s hard to criticize her for that, but that is
an insufficient basis to represent the people of western Montana in
Ryan Zinke served in the Montana Senate in 2009 and 2011. In 2009, he
had an “F” voting record on bills MSSA tracked. In 2011 Zinke earned
a “B” for his voting record. Zinke later served one term in the US
House, and then as Secretary of the Interior. MSSA doesn’t know of
anything remarkable Zinke did in those posts relevant to the MSSA
mission. While all other current Republican candidates for the
western district US House seat attended the recent MSSA candidate
forum in Missoula, Zinke did not. Finally, Zinke is on record as
having opposed civilian ownership of .50-caliber rifles, and he has
questioned civilian possession of “military-style” rifles.
Dr. Al Olszewski served in the Montana Legislature from 2015 to 2019.
Throughout that period, his record on bills that MSSA tracked was a
consistent 100%. In 2016, MSSA graded him as an “A” and endorsed him
for the Montana Senate.
In this five-way Republican Primary race for the western district
seat, Dr. Al Olszewski is clearly the best candidate and gets MSSA’s
There are ten surviving (one died) candidates for the eastern
district, four Republicans, three Libertarians, two Democrats, and one
pending (per Secretary of State) Independent.
For the Primary, MSSA ignores the pending Independent, Gary Buchanan,
since there is no contest.
Neither of the Democrats has a voting record or returned an MSSA CQ,
so no endorsement in that contest.
None of the Libertarians returned an MSSA CQ or have a voting record,
so no endorsement. They’re all probably good on the RKBA, but
specifics are unknown. I know Roger Roots personally. He is an
excellent and sharp guy, but that knowledge is not a documented basis
for an MSSA endorsement.
In the Republican race, MSSA has a fine CQ from James Boyette, but no
voting record. MSSA doesn’t have either a CQ or voting record from
candidates Kyle Austin or Charles Walkingchild.
Matt Rosendale has a 100% voting record on bills MSSA tracked from his
time in the Montana Legislature. Better, Rosendale successfully
sponsored MSSA’s Ammunition Availability Act, to encourage the
manufacture of cartridge brass, smokeless powder, and primers in
Montana. He has not only been a good representative for Montana gun
owners, he has been a champion of the RKBA. Plus, Rosendale currently
serves in Congress representing Montana at large. MSSA endorses Matt
Rosendale for the Republican Primary for the eastern district US House