The Missoula City Council elections are non-partisan, meaning that candidates don’t have to be open about which political party they support, if any. Still, many candidates are candid about their affiliations, whether it’s to garner support or in a bid for openness.
For instance, Ward 6 incumbent candidate Ed Childers identifies himself as a Democrat, as does his opponent Lewie Schneller. But there is one key difference: Childers wasn’t invited to a Republican Picnic on Sept. 12. Schneller says he was.
A picture of Schneller speaking at the picnic was posted at the Missoula GOP website shortly after the afternoon get together, but has since been removed.
“They’re willing to help a democrat defeat another democrat because they can’t stand Ed Childers anymore,” he says.
Schneller describes himself as a “conservative democrat…a labor democrat.”
In August the Missoula County Democrats endorsed council candidates, giving the nod to Childers. Schneller says he did not attend the meeting because he does not support the “New Party” members he says rule over Missoula.
“I call myself a democrat but I’m not in with the democrats in Missoula. I wouldn’t want to be,” he says.
Schneller claims that all city council candidates were invited to the Republican picnic, which featured U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg, and Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson.
Will Deschamps, chairman of the Missoula County Republicans, says his party does not officially endorse any council candidate, nor did they invite all council candidates to the picnic. Invitations were only sent to Republican candidates and local party members. Interestingly enough he says he doesn’t think anyone invited Schneller.
“Someone may have. I didn’t personally though,” Deschamp says.
Childers comments on his opponent’s party allegiances online in the local political blog 4&20 Blackbirds. “If Lewie says he’s a Democrat then fine, he’s a Democrat. That’s fine with me” Childers wrote. “It would be nice if Lewie would do some things that Democrats do. And maybe say some things that Democrats say.”