Since assuming the directorship of the Montana Republican Party in 2003 at the ripe age of 22, Chuck Denowh’s exuberance has taken the political rhetoric of the state’s Grand Old Party to new heights…or lows, depending on your political persuasion.
Now Denowh, probably best known for the GOP E-brief e-mail newsletter he periodically penned, is stepping down as the state’s leading Republican attack dog. According to the Associated Press, the 25-year-old Denowh is leaving to complete work on a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Montana. He’ll be replaced by 24-year-old Republican up-and-comer Chris Wilcox.
Denowh’s tenure as state GOP director has been marked by his admittedly “aggressive” style of political discourse. Right out the gate Denowh attacked former Montana Congressman Pat Williams in the Aug. 6, 2003 edition of the E-brief, accusing the elder statesman of using “half-truths, twisting statements, and manipulating scientific data to his environmental ends.” A few weeks later, with the poise and confidence of a seasoned political hit man, Denowh unleashed his witty vitriol on retired Supreme Court Justice Terry Trieweiler for applying for a non-paid position on the board of the Montana Environmental Information Center, to which Denowh referred as “Montana’s leading enviro-litigation (read ‘obstructionist’) group.”
“Trieweiler evidently believes that enviro-activist groups need to circumvent [the] system in order to achieve their obstructionist aims,” Denowh wrote.
A May 10, 2005 E-brief began: “Our petulant little tyrant of a governor has struck again…”
Last spring, when stories about Sen. Conrad Burns’ connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff began gaining traction, Denowh predicted “this whole thing is going to roll over relatively quickly.”
“It’s a pretty short-lived story,” Denowh said then.
Once Sen.-elect Jon Tester won the Democratic primary, Denowh unveiled supplements to the E-brief with titles like “Journeys With Jon: A tour of liberal locales and encounters with left wing lunatics.”
In the end, though, Denowh’s hard-right tactics didn’t pay off. Burns squandered one of the most important positions in Montana politics, and now Denowh has ceded one of the party’s most entertainingly off-putting pulpits. As self-styled counterweights to their aggregate loud-mouthery, we miss them already.