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Jordan critical of Mitchell

| March 10, 2021 6:00 AM

Perhaps we all might think more carefully before we vote for a candidate we don’t really know, simply because they have an R or a D after their name on the ballot.

Twenty year-old Braxton Mitchell is the newly elected state representative for House District 3, representing Columbia Falls, the Canyon, and up to Essex. Not long after far-right rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol in January, Mitchell introduced a resolution aimed at the opposite end of the political spectrum, intending to designate “antifa” a “domestic terrorist organization.”

After Mitchell introduced his resolution in a contentious Montana House meeting on Feb. 16, most of the bill’s Republican co-sponsors removed their names from the measure.

“He misbehaved. He got a little out of control in committee and I think most of the co-sponsors pulled out then,” Republican Rep. Larry Brewster, was quoted as saying. “I suspect the co-sponsors pulled out as a way to censure him.”

Since the bill requires law enforcement to enforce it, a representative asked Mitchell whether he had consulted with law enforcement on the bill — he had not. Another questioned why Mitchell had claimed in his opening remarks that the bill was bipartisan, when no Democrats had signed onto it.

“I was making a joke on the bill,” Mitchell replied. But not even his Republican peers were laughing.

“Representative, we don’t necessarily think that this is a joking matter,” the committee’s Republican chair replied. “This is a House bill being brought before our committee on behalf of the citizens of Montana.”

So far, 32 of those Republican peers have pulled their sponsorship from the bill. Others said they’d consider supporting the bill if it were extended to include other groups. Mitchell appeared adamant that the legislation only address “antifa.”

“This bill is specific to one group and the intent is to keep it that way,” Mitchell said in committee. The Republican chairman responded: “So

what you’re saying is you are not willing to host amendments,” Mitchell said, “Mr. Chair, if I could—” “No, you can’t,” said the chairman.

Debo Powers was Mitchell’s opponent in the November elections. If she runs again in 2022, we might want to ignore the R or D after a name, and consider sending a retired distinguished career educator with no ax to grind to replace an inexperienced, disrespectful freshman legislator.

Gil Jordan

Coram