Posted: October 18, 2014 at 8:45 am by Cowgirl

Posted: October 16, 2014 at 9:49 pm by Cowgirl

Montana Supreme Court Candidate Compares Pregnant Women to Animals in Emails about Abortion Ban

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.59.33 PM
An email from a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court surfaced this week in which he compared pregnant women and fetuses to animals.

Suggesting that if it applies to animals, it applies to women, VanDyke sent an email from his state government account to an Ohio attorney recommending that Ohio amend an amicus brief to reference animal pain statutes to bolster the case against women’s medical privacy in Ohio.  You can read VanDyke’s email and his edits to the referenced amicus brief here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.00.57 PMThe fact that VanDyke spent so much time on right-wing causes in other states like this has recently become a focal in the Supreme Court race. You see, during VanDyke’s very brief stint as a Montana Department of Justice employee, he spent much of his time chasing down right wing lawsuits in other states rather than working on Montana laws as he was asked.  

According to emails from high-ranking DOJ management, KXLH reported, this created frustrations and problems for the other attorneys who had to pick up his slack while VanDyke pursued his wingnut agenda in other states instead of doing the Montana work we taxpayers were paying him for.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.53.15 PMEven worse, VanDyke fails to grasp that women, unlike animals, have fully functioning brains and the ability to make choices.  VanDyke isn’t just comparing women to animals: he’s assuming that women are incapable of making our own medical decisions and that, like animals, he should be making choices for us.

Montana doesn’t need a judge who applies animal laws to women.

But at least with these remarks coming to light one mystery is solved.  We now know why the National Republican Party is spending more on this race than VanDyke has raised himself for his entire campaign.  This is a party for which comparing women to animals to try to justify taking away our basic constitutional rights is a key tenet.

TEA Party Republican Rep. Keith Regier made statewide news in 2011 when he compared pregnant women to livestock in the Montana legislature.  And TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns earned national derision when he compared Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke to a rutting bulldog for advocating for contraception coverage. And there have been many others who have done this on the national scene.


Posted: October 16, 2014 at 7:21 am by Cowgirl

GOPer Sabotages Own Campaign by Sending Out Wrong Election Date

Another telling profile in GOP leadership has emerged from the Flathead today.

A postcard arrived in local mailboxes recently from conservative candidate Phil Mitchell, who is running for Flathead County commissioner.  It reads:

Remember to return your absentee ballot by June 2nd, or vote at polls on June 3rd. I appreciate your vote.    — Phil


If Mitchell’s campaign can’t be bothered to send out correct information about his own election, that says a lot about what kind of commissioner he’d make.

mitchell commissioner mailer

The election is November 4th.


Posted: October 15, 2014 at 8:09 pm by Cowgirl

Two Strikes and You’re Out: Zinke still struggling to spell “2nd Amendment”

It has unfortunately come to the Cowgirl Blog’s attention that the Ryan Zinke campaign has, for the second time in several weeks, misspelled the word “amendment” in its campaign material when referring to the Second Amendment.

In September, Zinke spelled it “Amendmant“, on a banner at an official campaign booth.

zinke spelling error

I blogged about it then, and given that Mr. Zinke is a long-time reader of (and commenter on) my blog, we know that his campaign got the word. But their second attempt didn’t go much better.  They’ve misspelled it again, this time in a widely circulated campaign mailer, and the mailer is below. The new spelling is “Amendement,” with an extra “e”.

I suppose the the campaign deserves credit for trying hard, and improving.  And we all make mistakes of course.

But there is a serious problem in America, namely that the Republican Party is the Party of Stupid.  Think Bush, Palin, and don’t forget the idiot Dan Quayle, who also spelled something–the word “potato”–with an extra “e”, costing him his political career.

With this latest spelling struggle, the Zinke campaign is not giving us any confidence that they are going out of their way to try combat this image.  And realize that this mailer was not only generated by the campaign, but was also in all likelihood professionally designed and printed by a Republican direct mail firm (there’s no such thing in politics as a neutral consulting firm; they are either Ds or Rs).

I say two strikes and you’re out.  If you are running for Congress and you talk ceaselessly about the second amendment, you must be able to spell it, or you are disqualified.


Posted: October 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm by Cowgirl

BREAKING: National Far Right Working to Flip MT Supreme Court

Today, a national exposé  by Right Wing Watch revealed that right-wing religious extremists and the corporate right have been quietly working to pour massive amounts of out-of-state money into the Montana Supreme Court race hoping to change the balance of the Montana Supreme Court. 

As Miranda Blue writes for Right Wing Watch, the extremists are:

hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon hear cases with national implications challenging the state’s marriage equality ban and its abortion clinic buffer-zone law.

The national right hopes to buy a Supreme Court seat for Lawrence VanDyke. You can read the whole exposé here.




Posted: October 15, 2014 at 7:58 am by Cowgirl

Cowgirl Award for Best Ad of 2014

This is not a great year for political advertising in Montana.  Many of the ads are very cookie-cutter and tend to make one’s eyes glaze over and wish the election season to be over already. There are far too many ads with narrators whose voices sound less like narrators and more like an SNL parody of a campaign ad narrator.

But there is one bright spot, and I am bestowing upon one candidate the 2014 Cowgirl award for best campaign ad of the season. He is Galen Hollenbaugh.

Here is his ad:

Galen committed what any fancy political consultant would surely swear to be a deadly sin: he looked into the camera, and spoke for thirty seconds, briefly defining what his race is about, giving us a brief argument about why his opponent would not serve the interests of Montana citizens, and then telling us a brief bit about himself. This is an efficient use of campaign resources, and a much smarter way to go than the typical campaign trying to maximize resources which refuses to tell us anything about the opposing candidate.

Define your opponent, define yourself, define the race. That’s a good strategy. No ominous voices or grainy images of Galen’s opponent. No menacing or sappy music, no special effects, no cliches, no over-the-top attacks.

And there’s one other thing that you might or might not notice, but which matters:  Hollenbaugh used a local video person, rather than wasting money on someone from Washington DC. That not only gives us a homey look, but it saves the campaign money.

Posted: October 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm by Cowgirl

GUEST POST: Open letter to (alphabetically)  Curtis, Daines, Lewis, Zinke

by Mark Van Loon of Hamilton,  MT

For over 100 years, the Montana law that kept corporate money out of politics has made our elections more fair and more truly Montanan.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision in “Citizen’s United” overturned this MT law.  Even arguing in front of the Supreme Court, the MT law, supported by an overwhelming majority of Montanans, was disallowed.

The only way to overturn the “Citizen’s United” decision is through a Constitutional Amendment – an arduous process.  There is currently a strong grass roots movement throughout the United States to introduce and pass this Constitutional Amendment.

As a representative of the people of Montana, would you not only support this Constitutional Amendment but also take a leadership role in getting it passed? Please make your response in a public forum – a press release to major news outlets or a press conference – and explain why or why not.

Hint:  Just saying the Supreme Court has decided this issue so you won’t respond is ducking the question.  Montana voters have a right to know where you stand on this vital issue.



Mark Van Loon

Hamilton  MT



Posted: October 11, 2014 at 8:54 am by Cowgirl

Wheat Supporters Work to Counter Out-of-State and Corporate Money in Supreme Court Race

A group of Montanans has banded together to try to counter the massive corporate and out-of-state expenditures in the supreme court race–the right-wing special interests including the National Republican party who are hoping to buy a Supreme Court race for Lawrence VanDyke.

Here’s the Montana ad to counter this money by Montanans for Liberty:


It’s important to spread the word about this race, because there are big differences between these candidates.

Perhaps most importantly, Mike Wheat’s experience dwarfs that of VanDyke, who is an extremist ideologue from out of state who’s beliefs are far outside the mainstream.

Wheat - VanDyke Comparisan piece

Posted: October 11, 2014 at 8:34 am by Cowgirl

Posted: October 10, 2014 at 6:09 am by Cowgirl

End in Sight for Congressional Races

We are in the homestretch of campaign season. About a third of voters are casting their ballots this week, voters who requested to vote by mail or “absentee.” If you are a candidate with a message deliver, better do it quick. Each day you wait, there are fewer voters left to persuade.
A few public opinion poll should be published presently. These include the MSU Billings poll conducted every even year around the middle of October. Also expected are at least one poll from Public Policy Polling and/or Rasmussen Reports. This week, a firm called Gravis Marketing released a poll showing the Senate and House races tightening a small bit, but the Democrats still trailing by double digits. It was Zinke over Lewis 51-41 and Daines over Curtis 54-41. But this poll is defective because it doesn’t include the third party candidates, libertarians Roger Roots and Mike Fellows respectively.

Reports are that Amanda Curtis has raised a whopping $650,000, an impressive number and more than Daines has ever collected in a two-month period. That’s saying something. The only problem is that it isn’t clear how, or when, she plans to spend it. TV ads are a required medium for an unknown candidate, which Curtis certainly is. So let’s hope we see her on TV soon, smacking down Daines and telling it like it is. Perhaps Curtis remind voters, in any ad she airs, that roughly two out of three Montanans do not approve of the job Steve Daines is doing in Washington. As they say, nothing fails like unpopularity.

As for Ryan Zinke and John Lewis, Zinke has royally pissed off the editorial boards of the Billings Gazette and the Bozeman Chronicle, because they trashed him last week and endorsed Lewis, formally, for House. They like Lewis because he is a known quantity, whereas they pointed out that Zinke is impossible to pin down on any issue. These papers also made it clear, in the editorials in which the endorsements they announced their endorsements, that Zinke has the stink of Tea Party lunacy on him, with his support of the featured Tea Party proposal this year: forcing the federal government to sell off all public land. If that proposal were a pile of manure and Zinke were a dog, he’d have rolled in it and would need to be hosed down.
Lewis has lately aired ads criticizing Zinke for this outrageous position, and also for supporting drilling for oil in the Flathead River Basin, right on the Western slope of Glacier National Park.

I believe that this race will tighten significantly in the coming weeks, and be close in the end.