By Ron VandenBoom
Preparations for the annual Republican Lincoln Day Dinner was the main topic of discussion at the monthly Hill County Republican Central Committee meeting Thursday at Uncle Joe's.
Dennis Rehberg, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, has agreed to be the keynote speaker for the event. Rehberg, a native of Billings, is opposed in the race by Nancy Keenan, a Helena resident and current Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Rehberg and Keenan are vying for Montana's only House seat. Republican Rick Hill who currently holds the seat has announced he will not seek another term because of medical reasons.
The dinner is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Duck Inn.
Prices for tickets has not yet been determined, but it was decided the price of a ticket would only reflect the costs incurred in holding the dinner and would not be used to raise funds for the Republican Party. Prize drawings and a 50/50 raffle will be held to raise funds. Tickets are expected to be printed next week and will be on sale soon from any member of the Central Committee.
A mailing will also be made to about 500 area residents to announce the dinner and offer them a chance to purchase tickets.
Brad Lotton, chairman of the committee, told the members work continues on filling all of the precinct seats and on insuring that all of the available contested races have Republican candidates on the ballot. He expressed his concern that too many people in the area are not aware what positions will be up for reelection or what the duties and responsibilities of these positions are.
Lotton suggested that advertising the salaries of these positions, along with the responsibilities, might entice people to consider running. Lotton told the committee the minimum salary in the up-coming election will be about $22,000 a year with the top salary being $32,000 a year for a Hill County Commissioner position.
Kathy Bessette is the only Hill County Commissioner who will be running for reelection this year.
New business discussed at the meeting included the recent announcement that Merlin Wolery will be running as a Republican candidate for House District 90.
The committee discussed ways Wolery could generate publicity for his campaign and how much money he felt he would need to conduct the campaign.
Wolery said he wanted to concentrate a lot of his effort in Havre, noting that he feels he is well known in the Rudyard area and outside of Havre, but would like to spend more time speaking to Havre clubs and knocking on Havre doors.
It was also noted that there is still some time left before the filing date and more competition for the seat could file.
Wolery does not want to waste any time, he told the committee, in getting his campaign organized and finding a campaign treasure so he can start raising funds for the up-coming race.
The committee agreed to do what they could to help the campaign.
Before concluding the meeting, Lotton announced the new GOP website located at mt.gop.org and also announced that Jim Rice, Republican candidate for Attorney General will be the next guest speaker at the Pachyderm Club meeting on Friday, Jan. 21.