GOP Bachmeier Valentine stirs outrage in state Democrats
February 16, 2017
A photoshopped image of state Rep. Jacob Bachmeier, D-Havre, that was posted on the Montana Republican Party's Facebook and Twitter accounts Tuesday has garnered criticism from Democrats and some of his constituents.
Bachmeier, 19, the nation's youngest lawmaker, defeated Republican incumbent Stephanie Hess last year in the race to represent House District 28, which encompasses all of Havre.
Bachmeier said he is afraid the attack might deter young people from getting involved.
"The post, good intentions or not, does not come across as inviting to young people who want to get involved in the process," Bachmeier said in an Instant Message interview Tuesday.
The meme, made to resemble a Valentine's card, consisted of a picture created with Bachmeier's face placed on the animated body of a diaper-clad baby with the words "I'll be your Valentine as long as I'm home by 8 so my mom doesn't get mad."
The image was removed from the Party's Facebook and Twitter accounts by Wednesday morning without a mention of the earlier post.
Andrew Brekke, chair of the Hill County Republican Party, who became involved in politics himself at a young age, said dealing with issues like the post are part of being in public office.
Brekke said in a text message that, while he would not have posted the meme, critics are being selective in their outrage. He said leaflets attacking Republican candidates in previous elections such as former state Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Chinook, were far worse.
"I've been doing this as long as Jacob has and, yes, (at) times it can be difficult to take, but that is what he and I signed up for," Brekke said.
He added that disgust with such actions might actually encourage people to get involved in the political process.
A representative with the Montana Republican Party said questions were forwarded to Party Chairman state Rep. Jeff Essman, R-Billings. Party officials did not respond to questions today before print deadline.
Democrats were quick to decry the meme as an insult to young people.
"Chairman Essmann and the Montana Republican Party should be ashamed for attacking a young man dedicated to serving his constituents and our state," Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said in a release.
Bachmeier said in a Facebook message Tuesday night he thought the image was not one that was welcoming to young people.
"I don't know whether or not this was posted maliciously, but it was inappropriate to my supporters," Bachmeier said.
"I've always maintained that the lack of decorum among both parties is atrocious. We need to unite together, not resort to ad-hominous attacks," he later said in a post on his Facebook page that included the image.
Havre City Council member Caleb Hutchins also decried the post.
"I think it shows great contempt not for Jacob, but for any person in Montana that wants to get involved in public service," Hutchins said in a Facebook message Wednesday.
Hutchins denounced the image Tuesday night in a post on his Facebook wall.