Conrad political capital of the world for one day

48_denny_kids2061KITCHEN HELPERS  — Congressman Denny Rehberg stopped by the kitchen at the Pondera Golf Club during the annual Lincoln Day Dinner and chatted with the Pondera 4-H Shooting Sports Youth who were the dinner servers. From the left is Jolynn Krause, Dania Jones, Jette Pruttis and Clint Judisch, camera shy was Naomi Yeager.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

For about five hours on Sunday, while it was snowing and blowing outside, it was heating up at the Pondera Golf Club.

For a political junkie, it was a warm paradise. It seemed like every politician in the known world and over 180 other soles had packed themselves into the PGC for the annual Pondera County Lincoln Day dinner.

The annual feast was highlighted by Congressman Denny Rehberg giving the keynote address and other state and local candidates getting the opportunity to visit with constituents and address them as well from the podium.

In his talk, the lone Montana Congressman said, “You can’t represent a state like Montana and live in Washington, D.C., that is why I come home every weekend. You have to feel it, touch it and smell it.”

He said he loves coming to the Conrad Lincoln Day dinner because of the enthusiasm of the crowd and because you are here for all the right reasons. You take the time to listen and be a part of us.

Rehberg asked the rhetorical, “Why are you running for the Senate?” “I get asked that all the time.” Answering his own question, the Congressman said there is the opportunity to change direction and slow this train down.”We can do better.” He touched on the government, saying “We are slowly recovering, but we’re spending more than we’re taking in and we need a meaningful energy policy.”

With so many candidates, time to speak was limited to three minutes. Just enough time to get up to the microphone, say “Hi, here are a few of my qualifications and thanks for your support.”

Candidates on the local level included incumbent Commissioner Cyndi Johnson who is being challenged by Clerk and Recorder Janice Hoppes and incumbent Clerk of District Court Kara Thompson who is also being challenged by Laurie Eisenzimer; MaryAnn Ries, County Attorney, who is running for the position of Judge for the Ninth  District Judge along with Bob Olson of Cut Bank and Greg Duncan of Pendroy/Dupuyer.

A slate of candidates for state-wide office included, for Governor, Rick Hill, Neil Livingston, Ken Miller and Jim O’Hara.

Steve Daines, running for Congress, couldn’t be here and sent his regrets.

On board was Sandy Welch running for the Superintendent of Schools and Derek Skees a candidate for Montana State Auditor.

Two folks were running for Attorney General Tim Fox and Jim Shockley. Also present was Scott Aspenlieder, running for Secretary of State along with Brad Johnson and Drew Turiano who had the most bizarre speech of the night, He is an advocate of a sales tax and withdrawing from NATO and the UN. OK, and the Montana Secretary of State can do these things.

Also present were three candidates for the Montana Supreme Court; Laurie McKinnon of Choteau, Elizabeth Best of Great Falls and Ed Sheehey of Butte.

Senator Llew Jones was the Master of Ceremonies. Representative Rob Cook and Roy Hollandsworth were on hand, but because they are running unopposed this term, they didn’t speak.

Boy Scout Troop 541 presented the Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation were led by Everett Snortland and dinner was catered by Dr. Dick Kinyon and served by the Pondera 4-H Shooting Sports youth.