Daily Journal masthead

Deschamps out, Rep. Jeff Essmann of Billings elected as Montana Republican Party chairman

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

HELENA, Montana — Members of Montana's Republican Party ousted six-year chairman Will Deschamps on Saturday, electing Rep. Jeff Essmann of Billings to lead them through the 2016 election cycle.

Essmann was chosen for the role on the second day of the Montana GOP convention in Helena. He beat out Deschamps, of Missoula, along with far-right former Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel.

The 62-year-old former senator and Senate majority leader has also served as chairman of the legislative campaign committee and as Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee chairman.

He said he'll be open and honest and pledged to work with every member of the party known for a divide between conservative and moderate factions.

"The time has come for this to stop," Essmann said. "We can't do it (win elections) by drawing battle lines within our party. We should aim our fire at our Democratic opponents."

Tammy Hall, who nominated Deschamps for re-election, spoke directly of the party rift and chastised party members for personal attacks.

"If I hear that one more time, I'm going to throw up," she said of personal attacks lobbed against Deschamps. "He's done a good job. I think we owe this man a little thanks."

Montana Republican Party executive director Chris Shipp said although the party has a new leader, he largely expects party priorities to remain the same.

"It's a shift because it's a new person but it's not a major change in philosophy," he said, describing Essmann's politics as square in the middle of the party.

Essmann will serve two years in the unpaid position he likened to his work as a small businessman, saying organization is one of strengths.

Republicans on Saturday also re-elected Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls as vice chair, Cyndi Johnson as secretary and Gilda Clancy as assistant treasurer. Mike Hopkins was newly elected as treasurer.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow Daily Journal:

All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.