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Montana Lowdown

Montana Free Press founder and editor John S. Adams interviews newsmakers on the hottest topics and issues in American's Last Best Place. 

Feb 18, 2019

Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick is in the middle of a longstanding political battle over who has rightful control over the Cascade County Republican Central Committee. This is a debate that has gotten pretty ugly in the last couple of years.

 “From my point of view, I really don’t want to be involved in central committee politics, but I just can’t sit by and have a central committee that espouses racist things in meetings, that threatens people in meetings, and just acts in a way that is so out of the norm of normal human behavior," Fitzpatrick said. 

Fitzpatrick wrote a bill this session, which Republican Rep. Frank Garner is carrying in the House, that would change state laws governing central committees. Among the changes is a prohibition on the use of  “secret rules,” and the bill makes it illegal for central committee members to vote another member’s proxy without permission.

The conflict is another battlefront in the longstanding struggle for the heart and soul of the Montana Republican Party, one that's waged between those who pride themselves on being independent thinkers, and those who demand fealty to the party platform.  

"I refuse to subscribe to this notion that I should be a brain-dead legislator and simply turn my vote over to party leadership and let them tell me how to vote," Fitzpatrick said. "I’m going to sit down, I’m going to read the bills, and I’m going to make sure they’re good for the people I represent, and then I’m going to vote on them."