GOP Scuttled Swandal
Last year’s election in Montana and nationwide expressed dramatic support for principles related to the Tea Party phenomenon, a movement dedicated to, among other things, the Constitution, judicial restraint, and limited government. In Montana’s Legislature, that phenomenon resulted in Democrats losing control and Republicans winning a super majority. Quite a feat. Governorships and state houses nation-wide reflected similar results.
In the race for a Montana Supreme Court seat though, between Helena attorney Beth Baker and District Judge Nels Swandal of Wilsall, the conservative Swandal lost by a 47 to 52 percent margin.
Just prior to the election, members of Montana’s Republican estab-lishment, in a sudden and curious appeal for bi-partisanship, went all out for Baker, a moderate with no judicial experience who served as a Deputy to Attorneys General Marc Racicot, a Republican, and Joe Mazurek, a Democrat.
Racicot penned a letter to this publication and others in support of Baker. We received a return phone call from the former governor about that letter. Getting it published was important. Bob Brown, former Montana Senate President and Secretary of State, also weighed in for Baker in a widely distributed editorial that admitted ideological differences with Baker but that was signed by 10 GOP stalwarts including former Sen. Don Hargrove of Bozeman.
Swandal though, who descends from Montana settlers and has served for 15 years as a trial judge (see page 9), was the conservative candidate in this non partisan race, one who champions the U.S. Constitution and readily supports the Tea Party and limited government.
Could that have been the reason the state GOP establishment turned its back on Swandal? Do they fear the very principles upon which their party is based? Seems that way.
Adding injury to insult, Bresnan Communications failed to air Swandal’s TV ads scheduled to run over the two weeks prior to the election when most people decide who they will vote for, and returned the $23,000 cost of those ads (50 to 60 per day) to Swandal’s campaign saying a glitch had occurred. The ad was an endorsement by former Montana Supreme Court Justice John Warner, who like Swandal served as a trial judge. Former Chief Justice Jean Turnage also endorsed Swandal, along with 24 district judges.
Strange, indeed, even suspicious, that Bresnan effectively spiked roughly 800 ads during the 2 weeks prior to the election, helping the GOP to thwart Swandal’s bid for the Supreme Court.
—The Montana Pioneer