Former Lee Newspapers Capitol reporter Chuck Johnson (left) and longtime Billings-based reporter and columnist Ed Kemmick (right) covered the 2019 Montana GOP State Officers' Convention.

The Montana Republican Party held its annual convention in Helena last week, and we sent veteran Montana political reporter Charles Johnson and longtime Billings reporter and columnist Ed Kemmick to the convention hall to take the pulse on the state GOP as the party gears up for the 2020 elections.

With vacancies in nearly every major office, some party leaders are opting to abandon posts they’ve recently won in hopes of staking out new claims to power. It’s becoming clear that the party has a unique challenge of balancing party unity with the personal ambitions of party leaders.

And while the fractures we saw in the 2019 legislative session between conservative and moderate Republicans are far from healed, the party seems to be taking initial steps towards identifying a messaging remedy in President Donald Trump.

Montana Free Press was founded by veteran award-winning investigative and political reporter John S. Adams. John was formerly the Capital Bureau Chief of the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA TODAY. John is known as a dogged investigator and the host of the MT Lowdown podcast whose unbiased reporting has changed the shape of Montana politics. Contact John at, or follow him on Twitter.