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Rugged individualism, an independent spirit, a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, and a commitment to our families and communities — these are the values that define conservatives across Montana. And these values are what I believe make our cause and our candidates best suited to represent Montanans in elected office.

Too often, discussion of our values gets lost in the course of the election season. It’s disappointing to see disparaging comments about our gubernatorial candidates, especially from fellow Republicans. We have exceptional Republican candidates, and we should be proud of their unique backgrounds, talents and perspectives each would bring to this office.

It’s incumbent upon each candidate and their supporters to share more about their values and vision for our state, because that is what voters want to hear. Personal attacks and the questioning of motives and character only weaken our candidates and hurt us as a party.

No one should be naïve to the fact that differences exist, but those differences pale in comparison to the differences that exist between the Republican and Democrat candidates running in the general election. Those differences are far and wide, and that’s the contrast that matters because it shapes our future after Election Day.

I see a Democrat Party that has forgotten about our working class. I see a party that openly and enthusiastically supports socialist policies like Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, sanctuary cities, open borders and free health care for illegal immigrants. Not to mention a party openly assaulting our Second Amendment rights by seeking to ban semiautomatic firearms — a position now advocated by Gov. Steve Bullock. These policies will bankrupt our nation, infringe on our constitutional rights and make us all worse off.

On the other hand, I see the Republican Party as one that will defend workers and families of all stripes. A party that stands for liberty, opportunity and prosperity for all. A party guided by the Constitution. These are the differences that we should be talking about.

It’s been 16 long years since a Republican has won the governor’s race. My No. 1 job is to elect a Republican as our next governor. It would be a shame to see that moment squandered.

We need to all remember what a Republican governor would mean: Accountability in state government, reigning in spending and reducing the bureaucracy, living within our means, lowering taxes and supporting our small businesses, creating more high-paying jobs and protecting all jobs across all industries, defending life and always protecting our gun rights.

We’ve made significant progress over the past seven years. In 2012, Republicans held one office in Montana — the U.S. House seat. Today, we hold six out of the eight federal and statewide offices. This progress wasn’t accidental. This progress came because we organized, shared a winning vision and stood united in our mission.

We can continue to succeed as a cause and a party and win our races but only if we’re working together. To our candidates and their supporters, we ask that you share more about yourself and your vision with voters. Let’s hear more about the values you hold and the impact you want to have on the state. Highlight the contrast between what we as conservatives stand for compared to the Democrats.

Let’s commit right now to remember we’re all on the same team working to achieve the same goal: Win every single one of our races on Election Day. We must remain vigilant and not get distracted. We can deliver a better future for all Montanans by winning our elections and electing a Republican governor next year.

We’re better together.

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Don “K” Kaltschmidt is a businessman, a U.S. marine, and currently serves as the chairman of the Montana Republican Party.

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