Democratic primary voters in some Montana legislative districts will see new and unfamiliar names on the ballot this year. That’s because at least eight Democratic candidates are actually far-right “constitutionalists” and Tea Party activists. One of them is the current Republican vice-chairman for Sanders County. Two of the others have turned out to be homeless.
Most of the activity has occurred in Gallatin County, where Bozeman is the main population center and county seat. The county is home not only to Montana State University but also a variety of extremist elements. Key members of the radical Montana Freemen group were active there in the 1990s.
Chief among the new crop of candidates is Michael Comstock, a well-known local Tea Party activist and antigovernment “Patriot” movement organizer who has run previously as a Republican. This year, he filed to run in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat in District 24, a seat currently held by Republican incumbent Roger Webb, who is running for re-election.
Comstock claimed during an interview with KCFW-TV in Bozeman that he’s a mainstream Democrat in the tradition of John F. Kennedy and Montana icon Mike Mansfield, and more mainstream than his primary opponent, Democratic activist and educator April Buonamici. But as the blogger Montana Cowgirl observed in her posts calling out Comstock and the other candidates, no one in Bozeman who knows Comstock is fooled by this, since he has been a colorful figure on the local political scene for many years:
Comstock’s main focus is his concern about a possible takeover by ‘a one-world UN controlled government,’ the Bozeman Chronicle has reported. In his campaign literature and on Facebook, he says he is worried about the impending collapse of civilization. He proudly calls himself ‘a Tea Party extremist’ and believes the Muppets have ‘sold out to socialism and bad behavior.’
A Montana Human Rights Network profile of Comstock published in a 2012 newsletter noted that he is a prolific author of letters to the local newspaper editors, where his views have been well noted:
In 2003, he complained that ‘women and minorities get a free leg up on this white male [Comstock]’ when it came to employment. He’s also advocated getting rid of the minimum wage, which he called a ‘relic of our socialist past.’ He claimed the devastation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina was ‘directly attributed to 100 years of corrupt liberal politics.’ In another letter about Katrina, he complained that the media gave too much credence to the ‘rantings of opportunistic race-baiting leftists.’ He said statistics proved more focus should have been on white victims. While ‘blacks did constitute the majority of deaths,’ Comstock wrote, ‘proportional to their represented numbers, whites suffered the most deaths.’