Meet Scott Sales, new leader of Montana’s House Republicans

by Jay Stevens

Matt got to this first, but the Montana House Republicans chose Bozeman Representative Scott Sales to be their leader. A better choice couldn’t have been made – for the Democrats.

First Sales is an “outspoken conservative,” according to the report, Sales promised to make future elections even uglier than they were in 2006:

The fireworks were in the House Republican race, where Sales beat out a more moderate candidate and promised to use the chamber to groom Republicans for future races.“Our leadership has failed us,” Sales said, promising Democrats will be hit harder in future elections and challenged on legislative policies.

Republican Corey Stapleton, who was expected to be picked by the GOP as their House leader, mentioned that he’d like to work with Governor Schweitzer to increase funding for education in the state. Sales bristled.

Sales dismissed the idea of putting more money in higher education, saying “I think Corey and I are going to have to have a conversation.”

Besides being anti-education, an obstructionist, and proponent of negative campaigning, Sales has a very…er…unimpressive record in Montana’s House. Over the last two legislative sessions, exactly one of Sales’ bills was voted into law, and that was the creation of a Class B-13 Nonresident Youth Big Game Combination License. Um. Yippee.

As for his rejected proposals, well, there’s quite a few more of those. There’s the usual opposition to hate crime legislation (and those pesky civil and human rights) and funding for scholarships, education, and charity; and a proposal to eliminate the position of commissioner of higher education. (The first step in killing off public education?)

The one that cracks me up is his proposal to lift the ban on big-game trophy hunting. That one shows that he’s woefully out of step with Montana’s hunters, most of whom do it for the meat, not for the antlers. That’s the fancy Texas businessmen way of hunting, which usually means dumping the carcass somewhere and hiring a Montana guide to do the actual shooting. And come to think of it, that’s probably why Sales likes this bill, because somebody’s likely to cash in at the cost of our wild spaces.

But the most telling bill in Sales’ history is his support of a regulatory-takings initiative that’s much more extreme than Howie Rich’s version, CI-154. Sales’ bill would allow property owners to collect compensation “with respect to any statute, administrative rule, or ordinance enacted between the date that the person purchased the land and [the effective date of this act].” Imagine the lawsuits that one would burden the state with. Ugh.

The first casualty of Sales’ tenure as the leader of the House Republicans? The GOP’s “handshake with Montana,” (pdf). I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing – but considering that he’s from the conservative wing, I’m guessing his “handshake” is probably more like a “kick to the b*lls” to working- and middle-class families.

The defeat of the GOP in recent years has little or nothing to do with back-room dealing and redistricting as harried MT GOPers claim. Instead, the party is laced with corruption and has tacked hard right in recent years. It’s only good news for the Democrats, who will open their arms to moderates like Sam Kitzenberg and his constituency, that Sales will push his party right and promises to make the Republican party’s participation in the 2007 legislative session a bitter cacophany.

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  1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

    Where is this moron from? Is he a native? Any background on him? ie. occupation, etc.?

  2. I have some history with Sales. He hauled a dying horse of mine to the Vet once, while I was off antelope hunting. So I owed him one, & sent a nice gift certificate for dinner.
    That was before I attempted to work with him in the legislature, though, mostly on our bison bill, HB544, which the sumbitch killed.
    Scott Sales is a poseur. Lists his occupation as “private investor”. Likes to act like a rancher, & has a small line of haying equipment. My next door neighbor (now moved, regrettably) was a mechanic, although a good Christian and very diplomatic said Scott was “different”. Meaning; incapable of fixing the simplest mechanical dilemmas.
    Some cowboys take pride in being “not mechanical”. You know the type; if it doesn’t have hooves they ain’t into it. Others, though, simply lack fundamental problem-solving abilities, and the ability to fix things with the tools at hand.
    I have no patience for either variety, frankly.
    As near as I can tell, the agenda of the Gallatin Valley Republicans is to thwart anything that could reflect favorably on Governor Schweitzer. IMO, they run a very high risk of becoming their own worst enemies, though, so good luck with that.

  3. Matt

    “Some cowboys take pride in being “not mechanical”. You know the type; if it doesn’t have hooves they ain’t into it. Others, though, simply lack fundamental problem-solving abilities, and the ability to fix things with the tools at hand.
    I have no patience for either variety, frankly.”

    Bill, you sound like a farmer :)

    Seriously though, the parallel you draw between being able to fix and make do with what you have with common sense problem solving skills is applicable to many situations… Govt. included.
    Seems the Gallatin Valley GOP is using their “common sense approach” to alienating voters. I can’t wait to see the results and how that works out for them. I’m not sure if they have recognized it or not, but the “polarization” technique hasn’t been exactly fruitful – for either party.

  4. Big Swede

    Do you really think the Reps. were going to trust another moderate? This conservative victory is directly related to Sammy’s defection and is a snapshot of coming events.

  5. Hey, I welcome such acrimony from the Republican leadership. The more that moderates find the Democratic Party a welcome and comfortable home, the better for Montana. I think it’s fine the GOP leadership is willing to make its party the home of bitter partisan extremists. It’ll make the transformation of MT from red to blue complete.

  6. Big Swede

    Let me see, I would define acrimony as calling someone a “moron, mechanically challenged, different, lacking common sense, bitter partisan extremists”. All insults, of course mentioned above. Come on guys, you gotta make it tougher than this!

  7. (A) This is a blog, not the official statement of any political public servant.

    (B) I do think there’s a difference pointing out the result of someone’s actions than a promise to obstruct the legislature, to bully other politicians into being negative, and to promise that 2007 and beyond will be rife with negativity and underhanded dealings.

  8. Matt

    “Do you really think the Reps. were going to trust another moderate?”

    Weeeeelllll looking at the latest election results, I’m going to say YES, Big Swede!

    -“a thousand Swedes, ran through the weeds, chased by one Norwegian!”

  9. Big Swede

    Tstone, do you think any thing that the Reps. do in 07 will be as underhanded as our Gov. either offering or rewarding Sam a job for jumping ship? And Matt, let me bring you up to speed, the minority party (maybe) trusted Sales over a moderate. Congrats on your win in Nov. but we’ll see how many of your bills make the Gov.’s desk and I’ve never run from a Norwegian!

  10. Matt

    Well, Big Swede, I guess when I was thinking of Reps, I wasn’t just eluding to the people elected into govt, but also their constituents. Really, it’s nifty the minority party wanted Sales – But I contend that again, it’s not necessarily the will of their constituents choosing him, but the people in power.
    Two different things. I think the election spoke volumes about the average Montanan wanting some sort of moderation.
    So, you can spin it any way you want that ultra polarizing government is the real ticket, but I sure don’t think the general public who elected our officials thought so this November.

  11. …as our Gov. either offering or rewarding Sam a job for jumping ship?

    Is that what happened? Did someone find some evidence that this was the case? Quick, send me a link!

  12. traildog

    Having a severe right-wing-nut idealogue like Sales running the GOP is a goodthing (oneword) for the dem reps and the gov…he’s going to marginalize the moderate GOP reps (and drive them to dems more often–a couple of times is enough) & only make the several shithead demos in the legislature appear to be statesmen. I only wish Roger Koopman had the job…

  13. Big Swede

    Matt, it looks like the election isn’t quite done speaking-the Laurel seat just turned red. You were right, the “will of their constituents” wants a divided government not like the MT senate which was decided by “people in power”. And Tstone, the missing link lies in the Gov.’s office. The Gov., if completely innocent, should provide us with all details of Sam’s hiring especially if he wants to get along with the new Majority Rep. House. And Jay, the b*ll kicking is about to begin!

  14. Matt

    Big Swede,
    Yeah, that Laurel win was a real mandate for the GOP. Give me a break. Look outside of our state election and into the national fold. As a whole that spoke to moderation. Unless I missed something on election day (or the days that followed.)

    I think Montanans desire something from government other than “b*ll kicking” and partisan rhetoric. The notion that you must have two extreme sides of govt swinging axes at each other to accomplish something (or nothing) is absurd.
    So really, if the GOP wants to “do it up” and see just how classy they can look to their constituents I’d say go for it!
    Clearly, that’s the solution…

  15. Big Swede

    Congrats Matt, unlike some of your brethren, you at least admit your side swings axes too!

  16. Chad W.

    Scott Sales is an embarrassment to the state of Montana. He claims that he is a Republican but has hijacked the party. In the words of our state’s lieutenant Governor… the Montana Republican party was once one of a large tent that once housed elephants but now is just a pup tent. As a Montanan he is an embarrassment who needs to wake up and work for the people of this state. At the very least a parent should discipline him for acting as a brat who throws temper tantrums when made to work with others who do not follow his set of ideologies.

  1. 1 Links… « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Meet Scott Sales, new leader of Montana’s House Republicans […]

  2. 2 Meet Carol Williams, Montana’s Senate Majority Leader « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I linked to the Missoulian’s profile of incoming state Senate Majority Leader, Carol Williams of Missoula, but I feel it deserves more scrutiny, especially as it presents quite a contrast to the rhetoric and experience of the state House’s majority leader, Scott Sales and Senate Republican Dan McGee. […]




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