Jeff Essmann plans to make a “major announcement” later today. Perhaps he would like to apologize to the medical marijuana patients and growers for creating health-endangering legislation that makes compliance nearly impossible. More likely, however, Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann (Billings, Prohibitionist/Tax Increase Party) is going to stop with the “exploratory committee” insantity and finally announce his run for Montana’s Governor tomorrow. Senator Essmann in a shocking move (not) has hired Dustin Frost, of 47 North Communications, to manage his campaign. Frost, a former Rehberg staffer who received massive head injuries in a Flathead boat wreck a few years back; was recently quoted in the Flathead Beacon’s article “Schweitzer’s Successor“.
State Sen. Jeff Essmann from Billings is “actively considering” a run. And, according to the AP, he is being encouraged to get in the race by GOP consultants with close ties to Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg. Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s former state director and a partner in 47 North Communications, said Essmann would be a “heavyweight” if he runs.
“He’s being encouraged……… by consultants with close ties to Rehberg”, wow…. talk about a shameless name drop. It sounds like Mr Frost was in reality only promoting his employer. Should Montanans be influenced by the endorsement of a candidate’s employee- a paid campaign consultant? Not this Montanan.
The GOP ticket was already uncomfortably crowded, with already ample representation from Yellowstone County– Former State Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Former State Senator and previously unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller, and rising political star Keith Winkler…. perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration. Other Republicans running include former US Congressman Rick Hill from Helena, Neil Livingstone, a terrorism expert based in DC (although his home is in Helena) and James O’Hara, a Chouteau County Commissioner. Earlier today, Drew Turiano of Helena filed for the race as did Robert Fanning, a retired CEO now living in Pray. Current AG Steve Bullock is expected to be the Democrat Party nominee, but is planning a contested primary with Larry Jent. Ron Vandevender is running as a libertarian.
Thanks to Montana’s disenfranchised medical marijuana patients, Essmann attained the level of name recognition necessary to run for a statewide office when he authored SB423, to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law. In a field chock-full of conservatives, let’s differentiate Essmann from his peers.
- Taxes. Essmann’s legislation provided many Montanans the sharpest tax increase in their lifetimes. It was unexpected and during a recession.
- Personal Responsibility. When Essmann approached Governor Schweitzer to complain about the implications of the above legislation, the Governor said “Essmann complaining about his bill is like the architect that was warned by the engineer over and over again if you build it that way, it will fall down.”
- Family Values. With a penchant for liberal ladies (his wives are all lefties) Senator Essmann is childless. Perhaps he has a puppy or something instead.
- Smaller Government. Essmann isn’t one to challenge the federal government. If the feds consider it illegal, he certainly won’t defend your right to use it. Oh yeah, unless we are talking about guns, wolves, or Obamacare. He forced massive taxes on property owners and rescinded the rights of tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients to access their medicine safely. I guess his ideology borders on hypocrisy.
- Liberty. Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a clunky, oppressive prohibition bill. It overturns a very popular citizens initiative and essentially sends the sickest people in our state to the dark alleys to obtain necessary medicine. Several primary components have already been ruled unconstitutional. An initiative by Patients for Reform, Not Repeal has officially qualified the law for the 2012 ballot to enable voters to decide its verdict, with a particularly incredible showing in Yellowstone County, even in Essmann’s own district. Note: Essmann refused to sign the petition.
- Support. Although the rumor is “Essmann already has more money than the other candidates combined”, we know if that is the case, it is his own. Montana’s campaign laws prevent candidates from raising money until officially filing candidacy with the state so the money, if there is any; is likely his own cash. The lovely ladies from Safe Community, Safe Kids are no doubt on board and his biggest fan is rumored to be Tom Hauptman, an oil player who has contributed to Rick Hill in the past.
Being Governor has reportedly been Essmann’s lifelong dream but Essmann as governor would be Montana’s nightmare. Good luck to Frost. Creating excitement in a campaign is difficult with such a dull candidate (thus, this “major announcement”). Last session, thankfully Essmann provided us with plenty of campaign material. Regardless of his wealth, I don’t think Essmann has any chance in this race.