Monday, October 27, 2008

'I Am Not a Vegetarian,' Says Candidate

In most parts of the country, politicians have sex scandals. Look at Florida Congressman Tim Mahoney, whose trouser-snake escapades have torpedoed his chances of re-election. Tap your toe toward Senator Larry Craig and see how he responds. Offer to be Congressman Vito Fossella's designated driver.

In Montana, however, sex habits are not as salient as eating habits. Whoever would have anticipated a candidate releasing an official statement affirming that he's a carnivore? Yet here it is, as reported in the Billings Gazette:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown this week accused Democrats of spreading a false rumor that he is a vegetarian in this meat-loving state.

"I am not and have never been a vegetarian," Brown said.

"I am disgusted by the baseless allegation that I am a vegetarian and that my personal eating habits should somehow be construed as opposed to the economic interests of Montana's livestock industry."

Brown did say that he and his family temporarily cut back on their consumption of meat and dairy products 25 years ago when they were caring for a dying loved one who couldn't eat those products.
The Gazette's Charles Johnson traced the unfounded rumors of Brown's preference for vegetables to an email from one of the candidate's neighbors.
Brown was responding to an undated e-mail sent by his Billings neighbor, Pat Etchart, to Dennis McDonald, chairman of the Montana Democratic Party and a Melville cattle rancher.

McDonald, in turn, forwarded Etchart's e-mail to some cattle ranchers Friday and asked: "What do you make of this?"

The letter also has been send to agricultural publications and blogs.

In the e-mail, Etchart said that when the Browns moved next door in Billings, Roy Brown invited her husband and her to their house to get acquainted.

"In the course of conversation, he told us that he and his wife are vegetarians," Etchart wrote. "At the time, I thought nothing of it, but as Roy now makes the rounds and campaigns for governor, I have a concern. Would it not be a problem, in a state where cattle ranching is such a vital industry, to have a governor who does not eat meat?

"What caused me to think about this is that I told my brother-in-law, a rancher who usually votes Republican, about it. And he said that he could never vote for a vegetarian, because it's against his economic interest."

Reached in Billings, Etchart, a Democrat, confirmed that she sent McDonald the e-mail.
Brown's dining habits may not make a difference in the long run. The latest poll shows incumbent Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer has a 33-point lead over his Republican opponent. According to the Flathead Beacon:
Schweitzer was picked by 60 percent of likely Montana voters to Brown's 27 percent, in a survey released Friday by Montana State University-Billings. Libertarian Stan Jones captured 4 percent, and 8 percent were undecided.
The poll does not break down demographically to indicate who Montana vegans favor.

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