Level With Us, Ray Gorham!

J.K. Kuzara, Roundup News May 9 2014

Just once during an election campaign it would be nice to have candidates really and truly Level With Us! Just this past Wednesday evening Mr. Ray Gorham telephoned our home seeking support of his primary election challenge to Tom Berry for District 40 State Representative. We hate to appear like we are picking on Mr. Gorham but his advertising and statements are prime examples of typical political strategy: Attack your opponent with half truths, exaggerations, phony statistics, and over-simplifications. Mr. Gorham sounded like a very nice, well read, articulate fellow. He sounded passionate about his candidacy and we had a pleasant conversation. We wished him luck, yet we were sadly disappointed in him. We fear he has fallen victim to forces bordering on the dishonest when both he and we voters would be better served if he would simply Level with Us!

“If Mr. Gorham can’t Level with us and tell us where he really stands – left, moderate, right, or at the extremes- he can’t be proud of himself and he doesn’t deserve our vote.”

We told Mr. Gorham that we had studied his ads and read his endorsement by long-time acquaintance Vera Beth Johnson. We asked him on what he based his statement that Berry only has a 10°/o/F Conservative Rating. That comes from the Montana Conservative Alliance (MCA), he said. We Googled MCA and found no mention of Tom Berry or his conservative rating. Instead we found that MCA appears to be a far right outfit that exists primarily to replace moderate legislators with extremist ones. Obviously, if one cares to cherry-pick the legislative measures on which one wants to base a “rating” of a candidate; one can derive just about any number one wants – either good or bad. And that’s a common tactic of special interest groups. We asked Mr. Gorham about his statement that Berry has only a 42% rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA). He said that might be an “old rating” and maybe Berry now has a “B” rating. We went to the NRA website. Guess what? No mention at all of Tom Berry. Mr. Gorham said he favors lowering taxes and reducing the size of government. No surprise there, but when we asked him specifically how he might achieve those goals he was somewhat evasive. It’s all very complicated, he said, and people can’t or won’t take the time to study and understand the intricacies of these issues. In addition, there isn’t enough time to explain things to the folks.

Looking at Tom Berry’s voting record, or at least as much of it as we could reasonably examine, we didn’t see anything way out of whack. Some of Mr. Gorham’s criticisms of Berry’s record, however, are. State spending, support of “Obamacare”, pro-life issues, etc. appear to have been part of the state budget bill that establishes revenue and expenditures for two years. That measure was unanimously approved by both houses and signed by the governor- which means that even the extreme elements of both parties voted for it. So why crucify Berry over it? Again, please understand that Mr. Gorham isn’t alone in employing these kinds of distortions. Many, many office-seekers, all the way from the state house to the courthouse, to the school house do likewise. Forget about the unfairness to guys like Tom Berry. He’s a big boy and is entirely capable of defending his record and offering reasonable explanations for how he voted on different matters. What really concerns us is that the failure of fellows like Mr. Gorham to Level with Us is patently unfair to voters. It is also overwhelmingly insulting to the intelligence of every reasonable thinker!

Hopefully Mr. Gorham isn’t one of those far out kooks who would support weird, idiotic legislation that serves only to bring ridicule and mockery down on the Republican Party. And hope­ fully he isn’t of the ilk that refuses to compromise or seek consensus and instead favors gridlock, inaction, and waste of valuable legislative time. We asked him about that. His answer? He stands up for his beliefs. And that is great! We do too. So do legions of other folks. But that isn’t an answer.

If Mr. Gorham can’t Level with us and tell us where he really stands – left, moderate, right, or at the extremes- he can’t be proud of himself and he doesn’t deserve our vote.