by Dr. Ed Berry
Five Republican candidates are seeking the US Congress seat left open by Congressman Steve Daines who has set his sights on the US Senate.
Of these five candidates, only two can win this primary, and two others will draw votes from the more conservative of the two candidates who can win, thereby helping the more liberal candidate win.
Wise conservative voters will consider a strategy to nominate the more conservative, or to them the most desirable, candidate among the two who can win the primary election.
Unwise conservatives will waste their votes on candidates who cannot win the primary because these candidates do not have substantial statewide name recognition and therefore little support from the Republican mainstream voters.
Here are the results from a recent poll, possibly private, given to me:
- Ryan Zinke: 24%
- Corey Stapleton: 23%
- Matt Rosendale: 10%
- Elsie Arntzen: 5%
- Drew Turiano: 1%
Since these percentages add up to 63%, we assume 37% of the poll respondents were undecided.
Given the following:
- It is now May 9.
- The election is on June 5.
- Absentee ballots have already been delivered and people are voting.
- The Zinke and Stapleton campaigns are much better organized than the Rosendale and Arntzen campaigns.
There is zero probability that either Rosendale or Arntzen can overtake with Zinke or Stapleton.
The only question that will be resolved when the votes are counted is whether Stapleton or Zinke is the Republican nominee to the US Congress.
All our Republican candidates are good people and, in the final election, I will support the winner of this primary election. However, given we are talking about the primary election, let’s review the candidates.
It is no surprise that Corey Stapleton and Ryan Zinke are tied for first place.
Ryan Zinke has strong, well-funded campaign. He has statewide name recognition from running for Lt Governor in 2012. He has raised more money than any other candidate … but most is from outside Montana which does not translate into support inside Montana. But in politics, money talks. He has the most road signs by far in my area of northwest Montana and this influences many voters who don’t spend time researching politics.
Corey Stapleton has well organized campaign. He has excellent statewide name recognition from running for Governor in 2012 election and coming in second to Rick Hill. Corey is a proven vote getter and his TV ads are the best out there.
Matt Rosendale funded his own campaign with $500,000 but otherwise has few supporter donations. He as little statewide name recognition and this is his first time running for statewide office. These are unsurmountable obstacles to winning this primary, no matter how enthusiastic are his supporters. However, Rosendale is setting a base for running for a statewide office in 2016 and his supporters can look forward to that event.
Elsie Arntzen has little statewide name recognition and is running for a statewide office for the first time. Rick Hill, Republican nominee for governor in 2012, has endorsed Arntzen, and this has no doubt helped her get 5% in the poll. Nevertheless, Arntzen, no matter how well qualified, has no chance to win the primary.
Ken Miller, who captured third place behind Rick Hill and Corey Stapleton in Montana’s 2012 governor primary, has issued letters critical of Ryan Zinke. Zinke’s campaign manager responded to Miller’s letter. Miller’s second letter critical of Zinke arrived today. Most of Miller’s letter consists of quoting other people’s ratings and opinions. However, Miller included this list of votes by Ryan Zinke:
- Yes on HB 198 to allow federal stimulus funds to go to a foreign corporation (Tonbridge) and gave them the force of eminent domain to condemn the land of Montana farmers and ranchers to ship electricity through Montana.
- No on HB 152 requiring proof of identity and residence to vote. Only senate republican to vote no.
- No on HB 318 which would have allowed counties oversight when bison are relocated into that county. One of two senate republicans to vote no.
- Wrong on numerous bills which would have promoted natural resource development. HB237, HB402, SB233
We all have our hot-button issues. Here are mine. I want a candidate who supports these 2 issues:
- Transfer public land to states
- Use Article V to restore our Constitution
According to each candidate’s reply to Mark Agather’s questionnaire and Ryan Zinke’s editorial, here are the positions of the top three candidates:
- Corey Stapleton supports both (1) and (2).
- Ryan Zinke is against both (1) and (2).
- Matt Rosendale supports (1) but is against (2).
Therefore, Corey Stapleton gets my vote. I emailed Ryan Zinke on May 4 advising him that I must support Corey because of Ryan’s position against these two critical issues.
Now, if you are against Article V, then Matt Rosendale is your man.
Let’s quickly review these two issues.
Transfer public land to states
Montana’s Senator Jennifer Fielder has taken the lead in Montana’s effort to transfer federal public lands to Montana. The State of Utah has taken the lead among the states and has compiled an extensive record of how, why, and expected result of such land transfer.
The American Lands Council (ALC) has excellent information about this land transfer. ALC points out that this is the only solution big enough to fund education, take better care of the environment, grow the economy, and attain energy independence.
Ryan Zinke supports “energy independence” but does not support the land transfer to make this happen.
Further, ALC notes:
- At statehood the federal government promised all newly created states that it would transfer to them title to public lands.
- There is more than $150 trillion dollars of mineral value locked up in federal-controlled lands.
- This is more oil in federal-locked lands than the rest of the world combined.
- Federal-managed forests are unhealthy, dangerous, and result in larger and more intense wildfires.
Being against transfer is on the side of the powerful environmental groups whose power base is in large cities like San Francisco. Even if we live in Montana, these groups control our life, our land, and our economy by the power they exert over federal environmental policies and their lawsuits to force federal agencies to do their will.
If we care for our freedom, states must take over control of public lands and stop the EPA from enforcing its policies on private lands.
The Republican National Committee unanimously approved this resolution calling for transfer of public lands to the states:
“RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states for the benefit of these western states and for the nation as a whole.”
Therefore, Ryan Zinke disputes this issue with the RNC.
Use Article V to restore our Constitution
The Convention of States has organized the move toward having an Article V Convention of States. Progress is significant and there is no doubt it will happen.
Support of Article V is now in the mainstream of the Republican Party due to backing and promotion by Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and others.
The legal debate has been won by Mark Levin, Rob Natelson, and Tim Baldwin, to mention only a few.
The position against Article V is supported by the John Birch Society (JBS).
Therefore, Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke have aligned themselves with JBS on the Article V issue.
Watch the debate on Article V Convention of States between Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge and Dr. Michael Farris vs leaders of the Oklahoma John Birch Society.
Tim Baldwin and I had a one-hour meeting with the regional manager of the John Birch Society where we talked about Article V. The JBS rep said the JBS made its decision to be against Article V some 20 years ago and “will not change its position.”
To which Tim remarked,
“In other words, JBS will not change its position on issues even after new research demonstrates they are wrong.”
Tim and I asked the JBS rep to state one reason we should not have an Article V Convention of States. He said “there are many reasons.” I said, “OK, just tell us one reason.” The JBS rep did not state any reason for his position.
Last year, Corey Stapleton travelled all the way to Kalispell to attend the lecture by Rob Natelson on Article V.
Strategic voting considerations
I often hear a Libertarian voter say,
“If the Republicans had given us a better candidate, we would have supported him.”
That statement begs the question of
“Who did you support in the last Republican primary?” and “Did you vote strategically?”
We have a situation in this 2014 primary which is déjà vu to past primaries.
There are three or more candidates. In this case, one is a liberal Republican who the conservatives don’t like, the second is conservative enough to satisfy the more extreme conservatives who sometimes vote Libertarian, and the third is a more extreme conservative who the Libertarians like but who is not politically strong enough to win the primary.
I am describing Ryan Zinke, Corey Stapleton, and Matt Rosendale, respectively.
Here’s the catch that demands a strategy:
If Libertarian-leaning voters back Rosendale all the way to the primary and Elsie Arntzen continues to draw 5%, then Ryan Zinke will likely win.
But if the Matt and Elsie supporters realize they do not have enough votes for Matt or Elsie to win, and they vote for Corey Stapleton, who may be their second choice, then Corey will likely win.
This strategic thinking is an elementary version of “Game Theory”. The life story of game theorist and mathematician John Nash was turned into a biopic, A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe, based on the book by Sylvia Nasar.
In a contest between emotional decisions and game theory decisions, game theory will produce the best results every time. Read a general description of game theory here.
Call to Action
After the primary election for governor in 2012, Ken Miller supported Rick Hill. Unfortunately, not enough of Miller’s supporters followed his lead. Therefore, we have a Democratic governor today who is taking apart every attempt conservatives make to implement a conservative agenda.
To those who voted Libertarian or did not support Rick Hill in the final election of 2012, I ask:
“Did your Libertarian vote in the 2012 final election sufficiently satisfy your ego to make you feel good about electing Democrat Steve Bullock as your governor?”
Let’s not do this in the 2014 election. We are a lot smarter now.
If you like Ryan Zinke, vote for him.
If you prefer Matt Rosendale or Elsie Arntzen then think about what your vote will do to affect the winner of the primary.
If you like Stapleton better than Zinke then you would be wise to vote for Stapleton.
I hope Rick Hill and Ken Miller will update their endorsements to either Zinke or Stapleton. This would demonstrate to their supporters how they encourage strategic voting to win. (1278)