Governor candidates highlight Reagan-Lincoln Day banquet

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

In the absence of Congressional candidates, Denny Rehberg and Steve Daines, the annual Republican Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner at the Pondera Golf Club on Sunday was highlighted by governor candidates Rick Hill, Jim O’Hara and Ken Miller.

All three noted that it was a little unusual for them to be cast in the spotlight at the Party banquets.

Senator Llew Jones SD-14 was on hand to do duty as the M/C and kept the event moving right along all afternoon.

45_hill-9723Rick Hill came to the fore-front in 1996 when he was elected to Congress. He eventually got away from politics due to eye problems and for awhile was legally blind. Readers will recall that, then, Gov. Marc Racicot appointed him to fix the Montana State Fund for Workman’s Comp.

Facing a $500 million deficit and the second highest rates in the nation, as a volunteer chairman of the board, the deficit, after just three years was replaced with a $120 million surplus and comp rates were reduced by 50 percent.

He told a nearly packed house, “I never thought I’d get back in politics and run for office. Through the grace of technology, I got better.

Now, there’s too much at stake, I can’t sit on the sidelines and not do anything.”

Hill briefly outlined a four-point plan to help get Montana back on track: 1) Take down structural barriers that are holding us back; 2) Manage government, “We’re spending $20 million more than we’re taking in,” he said. 3) We need schools that are performing better. He supports merit pay and charter schools and 4) push back against federal mandates. I oppose Obamacare, cap and trade and new monument designations.

45_ohara-9724Next up, Jim O’Hara noted he has been a farmer all his life in Chouteau County and involved as a county commissioner.

“I believe economic development and job creation will be the key to moving Montana forward.”

He would like to develop Montana’s abundant resources, keep schools on the cutting edge of technology and maintain a balanced budget.

At about 6’-6”, former State Senator Ken Miller of Laurel is just too easy to spot from across the room. This is his second run at the top job in Montana.

He noted he was fearful for the direction our country is going and a budget that is out of control.

Miller said you can create jobs by getting the government out of the way, utilize our natural resources. “We have more wealth in our state, that’s why we’re called the Treasure State.”

45_miller-9729He wants to require English as our official language, protect life at all stages and protect our 2nd Amendment rights.

Congressional candidates Steve Daines (House) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (Senate) had representatives give messages of regret that they couldn’t be in attendance on Sunday. Both were back on the East Coast.

State Senator Jim Shockley SD-45 is a candidate for the Attorney General position.

He had a very short monolog saying, “I’m a lawyer, get over it,” which drew a big laugh. The retired Marine noted that the A.G. is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Montana and needs to be an attorney to run of this office.

Freshman Representative Rob Cook HD-27, told the people a Workman’s Comp bill got out of the House, four bills on medical tort reform were pushed through and the Senate will work on these.

Sen. Jones noted they were working on business which, “the media finds boring. We’re working on copyrights and eminent domain,” he said.

The Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation were led by Everett Snortland. A steak dinner was catered by Dr. Dick Kinyon and his crew.

Our National Anthem and God Bless America were sung by Pondera 4-H Club Shooters Jayde and Jenna Rodriguez, Dania Jones and Sheridan Johnson.