By HDN staff
Those darn Montana politicians.
First it was one of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates wrongly accusing a Republican candidate of an undercover investigation for political purposes when it turned out a fellow Democrat had hired the investigation to be completed and then, secondly, the two Republican candidates can't agree on a debate schedule.
Mark O'Keefe, the current state auditor, accused Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Judy Martz of hiring political researcher Hiram Sachs of Salem, Ore., to investigate him.
Martz vehemently denied the accusation.
O'Keefe said his political advisors talked with the camps of Attorney General Joe Mazurek and Secretary of State Mike Cooney, both Democrats battling O'Keefe for the Democratic nomination, and both denied any connection with Sachs.
But last Friday, after pointing a finger at Martz, he learned that Mazurek's campaign had hired Sachs at least nine days before Wilbur Rehmann, Mazurek's campaign chief, allegedly claimed no knowledge of Sachs.
Rehmann has denied that he lied. He said he did not directly answer the question about Sachs when confronted by O'Keefe campaign manager Dave Hunter.
Mazurek said Monday he believes Rehmann. O'Keefe said he believes Hunter.
O'Keefe assumed it was someone from the Republican Party, most likely Martz. He said Martz was a logical step since he already knew her campaign had hired someone to research his legislative voting record.
Wrong answer and a major whoops this early in the campaigning season. This is just another example of political he said-he said sound bite.
Now the two Republican gubernatorial candidates, Martz and law professor Rob Natelson, are having trouble agreeing to disagree during a public debate.
The two GOP candidates have agreed to hold debates, but neither side can nail done specific dates or sites to hold the debates. At least the three Democrats have settled on five debates in various towns around the state.
Montanans deserve better of their elected officials. We hope the candidates can keep the political bantering mud-free in 2000.
Montana's primary election is June 6. We encourage every Montanan to register and then show up to vote on the day. Please let your voice be heard at the polls.
Buckle up Montanans. It's going to be a long and bumpy political campaigning season.