You may not have heard much about Sandra Merchant, Republican candidate for Clerk and Recorder in Cascade County. But you probably have noticed that Trump cult members across the country are focusing on local election offices to advance their conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being stolen from Trump. So the question we have is, does Sandra Merchant buy into that mythology or does she not?
So we looked around to see what she had to say about her reasons for running for office. First stop, of course, are her campaign materials. Her web site is https://merchantforcountyclerk.com. Not a lot of content here, but that is not unusual in a campaign. Though you don’t always see scrolling advertisements for gun shows on a candidate website as you will on hers. She also lets readers know that she organized a homeschooling group “in her community.” Hard to say where or when that was. Of course neither of these things have a hell of a lot to do with local election integrity.
So, on to her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/smerchant4cascadecountyclerk. Not a lot here either. Nice photo of Ronald Reagan and nice photo of her and a saddle horse. Always interesting to look at “friends” on these pages. Her friends list has some people from the right flank of the local Republican Party including local legislators, Jeremy Trebas, Steven Galloway, and Steven Gist. Far right county commission candidate Rae Grulkowski is also a friend. Interestingly the Clerk and Recorder’s office reported that Grulkowski accompanied Merchant into their office to file for office, introducing her to the staff saying Merchant had come to file for the Clerk and Recorder position.
Perhaps the more interesting thing about her friends list is that none of the “moderate” local Republican officials (like Fitzpatrick, McKamey and Buttrey) are on her friends list. Desma Meissner, who ran from the right against Wendy McKamey in the Republican primary, is on her friends list. Last but not least, the wackiest Republicans in Great Falls . . . Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci and Sheriff Jesse Slaughter are also on her list of friends. With that said, we don’t think many of us would want to be judged by the list of people on our Facebook friends list.
Next up, public statements in the media. Unfortunately local politics are simply not covered in the Great Falls Tribune, which is now a shadow of its former self. The Great Falls Electric is good but doesn’t cover local political campaigns. Neither of these papers provide for local editorial comment which is where most campaigns will put out pieces on issues of the day. This is a big problem in Great Falls and perhaps a topic for another day. For the purposes of this article, there is just nothing there.
So, what to do? Well, check the local right-wing rag. . .the E-City Beat. Interestingly E-City started this election cycle with bold proclamations about doing tough candidate “surveys” for their readers but backed off when Republican activists pointed out to them that it might damage Republican candidates. So now they are just taking puff pieces from candidates. . .all Republican. And, of course, they still publish hit pieces on local Democrats. . .particularly female Democratic candidates.
Bingo! E-City Beat has a piece by Sandra Merchant. Unfortunately not a lot here. The only thing we could find about the election fraud mythology was this statement, “Election security is a big topic right now. I will do all I can to be sure we have fair, accessible, honest, and accountable elections.” Meh.
OK, let’s try looking at her campaign’s contributor list. Some of the activists from the Great Falls election fraud promoter crowd appear here. See our post https://wtf406.com/2022/09/the-big-lie-in-cascade-county Lola and Steven Galloway ($500), Rita and Ron Staley ($800), Jan Wenass ($50), Desma Meisner ($50) to name a few. But hey, you can’t just assume that candidates share the views of their contributors. . .completely.
After looking through all of this stuff all we can really tell is that she doesn’t have any experience or education for serving as Clerk and Recorder. It appears she lived in New York and had a “horse business” there but nothing about how or why she came to Montana. She also worked as a medical coder for ten years and served in the Civil Air Patrol. None of that indicates any knowledge of the duties of the Clerk and Recorder. But probably most important her materials ignore the “elephant in the room,” election fraud.
So, we reached out to Sandra Merchant and just asked for her position on the election fraud myth. Here’s the email we sent:
Dear Ms Merchant,
We are preparing an article on your candidacy for Cascade County Clerk and Recorder. Unfortunately we have been unable to find much information on your positions on specific issues. In particular, we would like to know your position on whether or not significant election fraud occurred in the 2020 election and specifically whether you believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. We look forward to your reply. Thank you.
Waiting. . . .waiting. . . .waiting