The More Information, the Better

Interesting discussion going on at Intelligent Discontent here and here about the choice voting record of Jesse Laslovich, a former legislator who is running for AG.  The issue was also mentioned in passing by a guest poster here a while back.  Whether a couple of wrong votes on a candidate’s voting record will matter to voters is an interesting question that merits a closer look.

How much these things matter depend not just on what the votes were about but also on the circumstances of the race and the political climate during the election cycle.

It’s important to remember that year after year, every session, nearly every day, Republicans are relentlessly attacking women’s rights on every possible front they can come up with–be it working to chip away women’s freedom piece by piece and vote by vote in the Montana legislature, in ballot initiatives in the states (Montana faces two anti-choice ballot initiatives this election cycle) or in the black hole that is the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.

Look at what’s going on right now with the war on women.  It’s not just about abortion, or even just about defunding Planned Parenthood.  The Republicans are fighting basic healthcare for women, for their whole reproductive lifespan. Women have a big fight on our hands in terms of respect for women, our value and roll in society, and what is the right fit for Montana in terms of family decisions, personal privacy, Medicaid, and preventative health care.

The uptick in attacks probably means that in this climate elections matter even more than usual.  Women aren’t likely to take any race, any candidate, nor any vote for granted.  When there is an opportunity to do so, I think we’ll see women looking to support a candidate that can be counted on to stand up for women in all circumstances.  A primary election race is a classic example of this type of opportunity.

It appears that Laslovich wants to be considered pro-choice, and that’s good.  But the facts are that a look at his voting record shows he has made a couple anti-choice votes over the years from 2001-2009 that he served in the legislature.  In 2003 and in 2009 Laslovich voted for bills which would not protect women, regardless of the narrowly stated intent of the bill, but instead give fetuses legal personhood, as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. These voting records are created to help constituents know which votes were pro-choice and which were anti.  One can debate the points of the bill or the percentage of bills that a bill represents, but the decisions over whether these measures are good or bad for women’s rights are made by experts and analyzed by attorneys and advocates who work on these issues every day, fighting the attacks year after year.  The work of these groups is supported  and trusted by local members who make financial contributions in order to get this information and to make sure their rights remain intact.

Voters are going to have to compare the candidates in order to decide whom to vote for.   At some point there will likely be endorsements by individuals and groups that will provide us with more information, but voting records aren’t the only record of where an individual candidate stands on an issue.

Voters will likely look at the candidates’ actions on issues, whether they’ve worked on the cause, been active in an issue, or been a donor.  For example, they’ll probably look at how Bucy has been an attorney for Planned Parenthood, how as assistant AG to Mike McGrath and at the request of Jon Tester, Bucy wrote the AG’s opinion granting that insurance companies must cover birth control when they cover other prescription drugs–like Viagra, and the fact that Bucy has also  made financial contributions to choice organizations –more times than can be linked to here.

The women’s vote will be key in next year’s elections, and analysts expect a battle for our allegiance.  Sine 1984, according to CNN exit polls, women have been a majority of voters in both presidential and congressional mid-term elections.  However, women make up roughly 58 percent of Democratic Primary voters, so our votes will definitely matter in this race.

It isn’t surprising that commenters, tipsters, and activists are getting involved this far ahead of the 2012 elections, as the stakes are high.  Keep the information coming.  The more we know about the candidates, the better.


33 Comments on "The More Information, the Better"

  1. Thanks for this analysis. We do need as much information as possible on every candidate that we vote for. I appreciate the work done by groups who track, study, analyze, and defeat all the anti=choice, anti-women, anti-domestic violence, anti-civil liberties, anti-human rights bills and ballot initiatives. If you folks are reading this, please, keep up the great work on behalf of all Montanans!!

  2. I think every vote is important. I do think however that in this race, experience will be the most influential factor, because that is where we see the most difference between the candidates. Mr. Laslovich will have barely been an attorney for 5 years if he is elected, the minimum that a candidate must meet under the eligibility requirement. For people I talk to, that seems to keep coming up. That being said, I hope no one takes this comment as to say I think all voting record info is helpful.

    • I would have to agree. Not addressing political differences (if there really are any)between the two candidates but as far as the experience its really hard to get past the fact he has been practicing law for such a short amount of time but is running to be the states top attorney. Not to say I couldnt be convinced to vote for him. I think if we are talking political differences between Bucy and Laslovich you’re basically splitting hairs but thats what primaries are for I guess. At the end of the day I would trust that Bucy or Laslovich would make at least an adequate attorney general. The most important thing is who is going to be most prepared to beat Fox or whatever other wingnut candidate they put forth. A wingnut AG could do some serious damage to this state.

  3. I mean I hope no one takes it to say to don’t think all voting record info is helpful. Must have more coffee….

  4. Laslovich is the better candidate, his time interpreting laws as an attorney may only be 5 years but he has been making laws since he was 18.

  5. Well after reading the article I see that Bullocks goons have got to cowgirl. Behind the scenes Bullock is backing Bucy and now cowgirl is writing articles about Laslovich’s voting record and making a huge leap to make him look anti choice. How about looking at Pam Bucy’s voting record……oh wait she doesn’t have one.

    Cowgirl you were able to find two examples of how Jesse my not have voted the way NARAL wanted, but what about all the other votes? Those were not the only two bills involving women’s rights that Jesse has voted on during his time as a legislator. His record for women rights issues is very good.

  6. Also when painting Jesse with the anti choice brush did you take time to consider that as a senator he was tasked with the duty of representing his constituents. Although democrat, Anaconda is a very catholic town (just like Butte) and abortion is a touchy issue. So I wonder, would you be happier with Jesse if he was to disregard his constituents so he can vote the way you think he should?

  7. Brad – what’s behind the bad blood between Bullock and Laslovich? I have tremendous respect for the Attorney General and it concerns me to know that he may have concerns with this candidate.

    • Hmmmmm cowgirl…I mean Corrina….I never mentioned bad blood I just assumed that Bullock my have a longer relationship with Pam than Jesse. Apparently cowgirl/Corrina, you must know something, what did Bullocks goons tell you that helped persuade you to write such a disingenuous article?

    • Grant Hohlmann | July 8, 2011 7:47 AM at 7:47 AM |

      I don’t know if it relates to this, but in this morning’s IR I read that Bucy said she would end her campaign and refund her supporters money if Bullock were to decide to run for AG instead of Governor. Meanwhile, Laslovich wouldn’t say the same, only that he would cross that bridge at the time and then decide whether to primary Steve.

  8. Bradass87, personally, I’ve always found the whole “his district made him do it” defense is weak. First, a majority of Catholic voters are prochoice, as polling shows (also, did you know 87% of Catholic women use birth control?) It is only the church leadership, not its members who take an anti-woman position on these issues. I hope you are not are attempting to defend this man by saying he caved to church leadership above the needs of his constituents. Just my two cents. I encourage Mr. Laslovich to do some research on the issue, if he hasn’t already. I think he’ll be glad to earn of these views.

    • Your poll is not specific to Anaconda and I trust that as a legislator Jesse keep the best interest of his constituents in the forefront (like he should). This is the problem with cowgirls article, it implies Jesse is some how anti choice because of two bills over the course of his long legislative career. I only brought up the point about his constituents because I think cowgirl is playing insider ball and being rather disingenuous when it comes to Jesse’s record.

    • “I’ve always found the whole “his district made him do it” defense is weak.”
      It’s only weak if you wanted them to vote a different way. Judging by all the support Jesse gets from the Butte/Anaconda area I think he did a good job voting the way his district wanted. And that’s they way it should be. I have spent a lot of time around the capital during legislative sessions and I must say that NARAL and Planned Parenthood lobbyists pretend the sky is falling with every vote. They are almost worse then MT Conservation voters, but nobody beats MCV when it comes to acting like chicken little.

      • So, I guess we can take this to mean Mr. Laslovich has some bad environmental votes too. A little pre-emptive strike here it appears. It is true, having a voting record can be liability–especially in the general. It looks like Sen. Wanzenried, sadly, dropped out today, in part because of the additional challenges a voting record brings.

        • I would love to take credit for a “pre-emptive strike” but it was more like a poke at MCV. I have never looked at Jesse’s environmental record, but if I were to guess, I’m sure it would be as good as any legislator from the Mining Cities. I would bet that he has better grades with the AFL-CIO, judging from the region he represents. But I say that without looking, just guessing.

  9. Kathleene Evans | July 7, 2011 1:07 PM at 1:07 PM |

    I hope this isn’t “the battle for our allegiance.” Though it is interesting in kind of a weird way. This discussion I mean.

  10. Bucy just announced. Looks like the web site is live and a press release is out. Most interesting, there were some initial endorsements in the release including Labor Leader Eric Feaver.

    Here are the endorsements:

    “As an experienced and unparalleled advocate for women and families, Pam is clearly the most experienced choice for Attorney General,” said Gail Gutsche, Montana Public Service Commissioner and former Legislator from Missoula. “The gender equity opinion she drafted while working for Mike McGrath has eliminated the discrimination women once faced when buying insurance in Montana. It was a huge step forward for women.”

    “Pam is the only current candidate seeking the Attorney General’s office with any real criminal prosecuting experience,” said John Parker, Cascade County Attorney and former State Legislator. “She has fought for public safety in both the courtroom and the halls of the capitol and has earned tremendous respect along the way.”

    “The Attorney General is the people’s attorney, and that’s a huge job with significant responsibilities,” said Eric Feaver, President of MEA-MFT, “We need someone with years of diverse experience, and Pam Bucy has it. From putting criminals behind bars to serving as Executive Assistant Attorney General under Mike McGrath and everything in between, Pam is the clear choice to take the baton from Steve Bullock.”

    “Pam is a powerful advocate with a strong, fair moral compass,” said Helena Police Chief Troy McGee. “She has always been a dedicated and effective champion for law enforcement.”

  11. What a nice post (so nice I’m suspicious somebody called in the minions.) It’s a shame if Eric Feaver really did endorse Pam over Jesse. That will likely cause some hard feelings with some people that the MEA-MFT has to work with. A group like MEA-MFT does not benefit from endorsing a candidate in a dem primary, especially when both have been good on education. Well at least Jesse’s record shows he is good on education issues, and Pam’s record shows…….oh right, no record.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 7, 2011 5:26 PM at 5:26 PM |

      THIS is why I can’t vote for Laslovich. We need folks who can figure things out. Jesse can’t. It’s either all or nuthin’! The rightwing extremists are comin’, and they ain’t takin’ prisoners. It’s war, one that SHOULD have been settled long ago. We aren’t marching backwards. VOTE absolutley pro-choice! To do otherwise is to degrade women and make them criminals.

      • Sigh. Jesse is pro choice, cherry picking 2 bills from years of service proves nothing. All that has been proven is that the cowgirls do what they are told. The cowgirls I have met all know Jesse personally and know exactly what he stands for. But an order from the top and they are willing to mindlessly and unjustly smear a fellow democrat. I appreciate the cowgirls willingness to fight the fight, but not when it’s aimed in the wrong direction

        • So he’s pro-choice, except when he’s not. We get it.

          • Im not trying to take sides between Laslovich or Bucy, I actually dont think there is much they would probably disagree on. But whats the deal with trying to hold him to a standard of 100% compliance based on a single issue when Ive seen this blog and its denizens take the exact opposite tact when defending Tester or Scheitzer against the people like Koehler that want 100% compliance on environmental issues? Are reproductive choice issues just more important than the environment so its 100% or nothing?

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 8, 2011 11:58 AM at 11:58 AM |

          As I asked of Dave Lewis, I would like to know just HOW our politicos arrived that their various positions on this issue. I ask this because there is just too much misinformation out there. Either you’re for it or again’ it. There IS no inbetween.

          And the issues itself is that important. If a person explains in detail how they arrived at their position, I can respect that. But it’s been my perception that MOST folks know little to nothing about what they’re talking about in regards to abortion. They rely on others to make their decisions for them. ie. Religious institutions, who are NOT always the most informed, or who have their own agenda.

          Look, for the record, abortion beliefs vary widely even among the world’s great religions. AND these beliefs are constantly changing. I asked Dave and others to specifically cite some historical evidence, medical evidence, and religious doctrines that support their beliefs. I really wanna know if THEY know what they’re talking about.

          Now, assuming that Jesse is Catholic, the church USED to allow certain abortions. Apparently now that has changed. Why? What new info?

          Also, EVERY religion differs on when life begins. These are things that are continually being tweaked for political purposes. And to my way of thinking that’s bullshit. If a politico can write a well-reasoned, rational argument about their stand on abortion, let’s hear it. They owe that much to us.

          • The issue is not as easy as “Either you’re for it or again’ it. There IS no inbetween.” For example, parental notification if a minor is going to undergo an abortion. I fully understand that there are bad parents and we need to protect these young ladies. But I also understand the fear of a parent that their child could get a surgical procedure with out notification. I tend to side with NARAL on the issue but fully understand how a pro choice person might feel differently.

  12. The Democrats have their own brand of litmus tests. If jessee wins AG he is unstoppable for governor. Pam, not so much. Fun to watch, for a Republican.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 7, 2011 9:06 PM at 9:06 PM |

      Um, Dave, where do YOU stand on the issue of abortion and why? Do YOU adhere to the typical rightwing christeeyofundiwackmentalist position because to do otherwise would be political suicide? Or do you actually possess enough courage to make your own decision based upon serious study and reflection?

      I think I already know, but go ahead and answer. Why do you believe what you believe and just HOW did you arrive at this decision? That would go a long ways in providing some legitimacy to your comments regarding a “litmus” test. BTW, there should be NO litmus tests for entitlements to one’s rights. Do you agree?

  13. Terminating an innocent human life is unacceptable to me. My eldest daughter and I disagree totally on this and have debated it for over thirty years. We disagree but I still love and respect her. I have my position and live and vote it but accept that others believe otherwise. I hesitate to get in to this here., but you asked a fair question.

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