State and federal races with Primary contestGovernor

Greg Gianforte, incumbent Governor. Gianforte is a known “gun guy.” As Governor, he has signed several of MSSA’s bills. He has not opposed or vetoed any. For MSSA’s landmark HB 102 in 2021, to eliminate dangerous “gun free zones” and usher in permitless concealed carry in Montana, Gianforte declared the bill a high priority, causing it to fly through the Legislature and onto his desk. Gianforte did not return MSSA’s 2024 Candidate Questionnaire. Gianforte is a proven supporter of Montana gun owners.

Tanner Smith. Smith served in the Montana House in the 2023 session, where he had a 100% voting record on the bills MSSA tracked. Other than that, little is known about Smith. He did not return MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire. For disclosure, Smith’s Lt. Governor running mate is Randy Pinocci, who is also VP of MSSA.

MSSA choice? Edge to Gianforte but no defensible choice. From the RKBA perspective, Montana gun owners would probably be well-served by either candidate. You decide.

Montana Attorney General

Austin Knudsen and Logan Olson are the Republican candidates, with Knudsen being the incumbent. Knudsen is the former Speaker of the Montana House. He always had a 100% voting record on RKBA issues in the House. Since becoming AG, Knudsen has done several things very helpful in support of MSSA and the RKBA. Knudsen is excellent. When MSSA needed a special amicus brief for a legal case, Olson rose to the occasion and wrote a fine brief for MSSA. Olson is clearly pro-gun, but without the long pro-RKBA record of Knudsen. Nod to Knudsen.

U.S. Senate

On the Republican side are Tim Sheehy and Brad Johnson. Neither returned an MSSA Candidate Questionnaire. No preference.

On the Democrat side are Jon Tester and Michael Hummert. Most gun owner voters in the Primary will not be voting a Democrat ballot. If you are, here is what MSSA knows. Tester claims to be pro-gun, yet he has failed to cast pro-gun votes the couple of times MSSA has asked that of him. He did not return MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire. Hummert did return our Candidate Questionnaire and got a decent, but not great, score. So, no endorsement in this race but a slight nod to Hummert.

U.S. House of Representatives

Eastern congressional district

The Republican side of this Primary is crowded. It includes a number of fine candidates..

Fine does not include Joel Krautter. Krautter served briefly in the Montana House, where he earned a “D” grade on votes MSSA tracked. Scratch Krautter.

Kyle Austin and Stacey Zinn did not return MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire. Our assessment is that they don’t have much affinity for the RKBA and maybe don’t care what gun owners think of their candidacy. Scratch Austin and Zinn.

Ed Walker has withdrawn from the race.  Scratch Walker.

Troy Downing has been a disappointment, unfortunately. He talks a good talk about the RKBA. However, as State Auditor (de facto insurance commissioner), he was asked twice to help with language for an MSSA bill to prevent discrimination against gun owners in insurance. Despite agreeing to assist with suggested language, that assistance never materialized. MSSA cannot recommend Downing.

That still leaves a number of fine candidates in this field. Going in alphabetical order, they are:

Elsie Arntzen. When in the Legislature, Arntzen had a 100% voting record with us. Plus, she carried at least one bill for MSSA. As Superintendent of Public Instruction, Arntzen has been helpful supporting MSSA’s Be Safe, gun safety program for kids, and distributing that to Montana schools.

Ken Bogner. Bogner comes from having served in the Montana Senate, where he had a 100% voting record on bills MSSA tracked. Bogner is solid on the RKBA.

Ric Holden. Holden also served in the Montana Legislature. He was also 100% on MSSA bills. Holden is solid on the RKBA.

Denny Rehberg served in the Montana Legislature and also in Congress. Rehberg has a track record as solidly pro-RKBA.

That leaves four candidates in this Republican primary who would be good for Montana gun owners, Arntzen, Bogner, Holden, and Rehberg. You choose among these.

Western district

On the Republican side, there is a Primary contest between incumbent Ryan Zinke and challenger Mary Todd. Neither returned an MSSA Candidate Questionnaire. Todd has no voting record. While in Congress, Zinke has done nothing offensive to the RKBA. No endorsement but a nod to Zinke as less of an unknown than Todd.

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut
President, Montana Shooting Sports Association

By mssa