The candidates for governor debate again tonight in Helena and I wonder if it will be a repeat of what we heard in Missoula--Brian Schweitzer touting his record ("the best in 16 years, if not ever"), Roy Brown trying to undermine those boasts, and Stan Jones poking his finger in the eye of both parties. I hope not and I hope the questioners make sure it's not.
To that end, here are the questions I would ask the candidates in light of last week's University of Montana debate.
To Governor Schweitzer:
State Senator Brown has compared himself to you by saying he's a "work horse, not a show horse." It seems to me that "show horse" is a euphemism. What he's really saying is that you're a "show-off", "windbag" and "blowhard." And that you are more concerned with self-promotion and creating a cult of personality than with governing. Would you have us ignore your personality as we evaluate your administration, or should we embrace "Brian being Brian"?
To Roy Brown:
You've pledged "the most open, honest and accountable administration in Montana's history." We can see that you don't approve of what Governor Schweitzer has done over the last four years. But your statement also indicates that recent Republican governors have fallen short of your standard. I'd like you to specify where Governors Martz, Racicot and Stephens fell short and what specifically you would do better.
To Stan Jones:
There are many in Montana who would question whether you really belong in a debate such as this. Although the Libertarian Party in Montana is a legitimate political organization and has earned its place on the ballot, it has yet to make a significant showing in any statewide race. And your perennial candidacy for governor and U.S. Senate has, frankly, made you more of a gadfly and an annoying diversion than a real candidate. Isn't it time for you to step aside and let us hear more from the candidates who actually have a chance of winning?