Posted: Oct 4, 2011 4:10 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX
Updated: Oct 4, 2011 4:11 PM
He's not even in the race for Montana's gubernatorial election yet, and also Democrats are throwing rocks at Republican Senator Jeff Essmann.
The Billings lawmaker is expected to announce Tuesday evening that he's throwing his hat in the ring to replace Governor Brian Schweitzer in 2013. Essmann has scheduled a telephone "town hall meeting" and arranged for reporter's questions Tuesday night for what is being billed as a "major announcement."
Essmann would become the 8th GOP candidate for the state's highest office in a field that is drawing a growing herd of political hopefuls.
Essmann has a reputation for being a fiscal conservative, taking strong positions on taxes and other spending issues since joining the Senate in 2005. He most recently has been in the news as the author of the state's medical marijuana reform, a bill that will be subject to a challenge by voters next year.
Montana Democrats were already taking potshots at Essmann, releasing a statement criticizing his voting record.
Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick blasted the Senate Majority Leader for his voting record on issues ranging from Workman's Comp to "spear hunting."
"As the State Senate Majority Leader, Jeff Essmann played a leadership role in the last legislative session, and because of that he'll have to answer for the dozens of irresponsible, unconstitutional bills he shepherded through the Senate," Dick wrote. ‘Montana voters will want an explanation for everything from his two votes to legalize spear hunting to his approval of a nearly 3% tax hike on small businesses."
Dick claims the flood of GOP candidates is showing that Rick Hill is no longer a "front runner" for the Republican nomination next year.