ICYMI: GOP leader slams Greg Gianforte
State Senate President Scott Sales calls failed candidate for governor not “electable”
HELENA – During a Republican Lincoln-Reagan dinner held at the Watson Irrigation Training Center outside of Townsend, state Senate President Scott Sales criticized New Jersey multi-millionaire Greg Gianforte for losing the governor’s race and opposed Gianforte's bid for the U.S. House seat.
Senate President Sales told Republicans, Gianforte “didn’t listen to the people” and that going forward Republicans needed to nominate “someone who was electable.”
Sales’ critical comments come on the heels of several other Republican leaders coming out against Gianforte and conservative blog, E-City, writing Why Republicans Should Say, “Thanks, but No Thanks,” to Greg Gianforte.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle// Troy Carter
State Sen. President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, withdrew his bid for the U.S. House of Representatives at a Republican dinner last weekend, while slamming Greg Gianforte for losing the governor’s race.
Multiple attendees confirmed that Sales was incensed by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines’ endorsement of Gianforte at the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, held Sunday at the Watson Irrigation Training Center outside of Townsend. Daines was the keynote speaker and used his speech to praise Gianforte, the sources said.
GOP legislative aide Matt Pitzer, who was in attendance, told the Chronicle on Friday that “the sense in the room was that this was the wrong time to make an endorsement.”
Pitzer said Sales stood up when it was his turn to speak, announced he was pulling out of the race, said state Republicans needed a candidate who would appeal beyond the conservative base, and said that the Legislature is in trouble right now because Gianforte lost the gubernatorial race.
“Without naming Gianforte, Sales said that the governor candidate didn’t listen to the people and that going forward they needed to nominate someone who was electable,” Pitzer said.
State Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, was also at the event because of his own pursuit of the GOP’s nomination for U.S. House. Buttrey said he was shocked “and saddened to see Sales drop out. Scott Sales is a good, honest man, a tell-you-to-your-face kind of guy,” Buttrey said.
Sales, the president of the state Senate, declined to comment Friday but did not deny that he delivered scathing remarks on Gianforte’s loss to Gov. Steve Bullock in last year’s gubernatorial election nor that he painted the conservative Bozeman man as unelectable.
Gianforte and Daines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.