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.

John Adams began his professional career in 2001 in Idaho Falls, ID writing and editing for a variety of trade magazines. He covered topics ranging from potato and sugar beet farming to skate park and playground construction and maintenance. Adams started his newspaper career as the city government reporter for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he covered the City Hall, police, fire and local courthouse beats. In 2005 he joined the staff of the Missoula Independent in Missoula, MT where he worked as a staff reporter covering a wide range of issues including the environment,...