In the Republican state senator’s op-ed October 27, 2010 in the Whitefish Pilot, Ryan Zinke wrote the following:
At the local level, the big event is the house race to fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Mike Jopek. It’s a tight race between Derek Skees, a Republican, versus Will Hammerquist, representing the Democrat side. Aside from all the negative campaign tactics, the truth is that the two candidates are very different and your vote matters.
Derek Skees is a conservative who champions cutting government, state sovereignty, strong property rights and believes that economic recovery is best achieved through the free market. If you believe in those ideals, Derek is your man. Will Hammerquist, is a moderate with a background in environmental non-profit organizations and is an advocate for government-funded health care and conservation easements, and supports the use of government subsidies and tax credits for economic recovery. If you believe in those ideals, mark Will on your ballot.
Ryan Zinke is listed as a supporter on campaign literature of Derek Skees yet liberal bloggers have somehow chosen to interpret Zinke’s statement as some sort of compliment to Hammerquist. James Conner of the Flathead Memo wrote:
Talk about damning with faint praise! The “…two candidates are very different and your vote matters.” In my book, that’s a backdoor endorsement of Will Hammerquist.
For months far-left Montana bloggers (are there any other kind?) have tried to paint Derek Skees as a extremist. The campaigns have become increasingly negative and voters are tired of the mud-slinging. Zinke’s statement was an endorsement of conservative ideals and by presenting it in this way, he achieved respect from even the liberals. Montana Cowgirl even referred to him as “the highly respected State Senator Ryan Zinke“. My interpretation- and I’m not a member of any organized political party- of Zinke’s description of Hammerquist was: big government advocate with no experience in the private sector supports Obama-care and government land grabs as well as redistributing your wealth.
Ryan Zinke’s words confirmed Derek Skees’s conservative values while neither endorsing nor alienating Hammerquist or his supporters, which I think is a wise strategy. It is indeed a tight race and the candidates are very different. The choice should therefore be very simple. Your vote matters.