As I have traveled across Montana, campaigning for the United States Senate, I have often been asked, “Why is it that candidates sound really good when they campaign in Montana, but when they go to Washington they change their tune and act differently than the way they campaigned?”
My theory is they are beholden to high dollar financial contributors and the Washington, D.C., special interest groups that spent a lot of money to get them elected. These “out of state” people place great pressure and demands upon our congressman and senators to work for their interests, not necessarily for Montana’s best interest.
Why does this happen? I believe it is because we have been told by the media that the measure which best determines a candidate’s electability is campaign fundraising. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! This standard has been set as the most important measure to pay attention to. The message and the candidate is secondary. The result is all candidates seeking federal office travel to Washington, D.C., to court the high dollar donors because we, as voters, continue to use the amount of money raised as the major indicator to determine a person’s ability to be elected. THE ONLY THING CERTAIN when you use money as your indicator is that your elected official will be a good fundraiser! I’ve had personal experience dealing with this issue. At the beginning of my campaign for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat, I was offered the possibility of thousands of dollars being spent on my behalf or donated to my campaign by special interests inside the Washington, D.C., beltway. In return, I had to pledge my loyalty to their issues. They wanted absolute certainty that I would be devoted to their cause before they would donate one dime to my campaign. I could not agree to these conditions. Even though the infusion of their money into my campaign would have significantly boosted my image as a “viable candidate” among the media, I refused to put any “out-of-state” interest above those of everyday Montanans. It was right then and there that I decided to run my campaign similar to that of Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia. In 2014, he ran a “David vs. Goliath” grassroots campaign against Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Dave Brat made the message more important than the money. His clear and honest positions on all the issues resonated with the Virginia voters. In a surprise upset, Dave Brat defeated then Majority Leader Eric Cantor, despite being outspent at 40:1. Rep. Brat spent less than $200,000 defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the second most powerful congressman. How? He won the race based on his message. Majority Leader Cantor lost the race believing his money would win his election. With less than 30 days before the primary election, I am confident I made the right decision to run our grassroots campaign based on our Montana message and not on “out-of-state” money. Our campaign to be Montana’s next Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate has gained significant momentum the past two months. In the only “Made in Montana” straw poll published by the Montana Mint, the people of Montana chose me to represent them with 53 percent of the vote. I believe the people voted for our Montana message. I would be honored to earn your vote and have you participate in taking our message to Washington, D.C. Together, let us work to heal our nation’s Capitol. On June 5, I encourage you to choose your candidate based on the issues important to you, and not on the money.
Dr. Al Olszewski, a Kalispell Republican, is state senator in District 6, and a candidate for U.S. Senate.