UPDATED: Mrs. Smith Going to Washington?

A woman named Diane Smith, from Whitefish, has announced a run for Congress.


Smith has an interesting profile as a candidate with some strengths and weaknesses.   She has never run for office (likely a strength) and she has an impressive professional resume.  She built a $190 million business in Kalispell that employs 100 people, and before moving to Montana from the DC area in 2002 she served Vice President of the Alltel cellular company.  She is an author as well, having written a book on rural entrepreneurship.


At the same time, Smith is known in Whitefish to have close alliances with some local Republicans and Realtors, on key local issues like development and sprawl.  And based on the feedback that has been sent to this blog in the last 24 hours, there is clearly a sector of democratic voters in Whitefish that will not be voting for her in the primary. Smith also donated in on two occasions to Rehberg and Burns, some time ago (and has also donated to Tester and other Democrats).


The wild card, of course, is that she helped found a business that is worth $190 million. Meaning she probably has some good personal wealth, which is something that the other primary candidates–Kim Gillan and Franke Wilmer–do not.  Right now Kim Gillan leads the pack in terms of funds raised, and Smith is starting at zero assuming she spends no money of her own.


So it looks like we will have an interesting primary.  And a feminist one, too.

UPDATE: The Flathead Memo also has a piece up on the Congressional Primary that you’ll want to read.


49 Comments on "UPDATED: Mrs. Smith Going to Washington?"

  1. “the other primary candidates–Kim Gillan and Franke Wilmer”

    Also Dave Strohmaier and Rob Stutz.

    As for Smith, I think she needs to prove to Democrats that she’s not running for office to promote her book and business. Just what genre of candidate is she: Jim Lynch? Herman Cain? Newt? Michelle? Something else?

    • Agreed. I’d like to see some discussion of Strohmaier and Stutz, both of whom I know little about. I think Stutz was a Missoula County Democratic Vice-Chair, is this right?

      • Stutz has been involved in Democratic politics since college, and has a long history of public service. I’m not sure whether he was Vice-Chair or Treasurer.

        Smith, by contrast, is lately come to Jesus, and her conversion to what’s good and holy seems tenuous at best. And just two months ago she was giving money to known Republicans in the municipal elections in Whitefish.

      • Here’s the deal. Everyone knows that Strohmeir and Stutz have zero chance of winning this primary, little alone the general. No one has ever heard of these two and they lack the experience and knowledge to run a credible campaign .

        • Here’re the facts. Strohmaier has won several municipal elections in Missoula, and is running a smart campaign for Congress. Stutz is not as well known yet, but he’s hardly a newcomer to politics, is working with experienced people, and is running a smart, issues based campaign. Asserting that neither man has a snowball’s chance is hell of winning is an act of ignorance at best, and malice at worst.

  2. I read about this tonight as I was having dinner, but Im also reminded of a lunch time convo I had a few days ago in a small eastern Montana cafe with a Democratic friend of mine, he said that “Dave Strotomeier (and I know Im spelling his last name wrong sorry) a city councilman from Missoula has his heart in the right place, as does Franke Wilmer.” I would also add that Kim Gillian from Billings has done some good work over the years in the legislature and she understands the process, this new candidate, I dont know much about, but Im open to the idea of electing somebody with some real world business experience. But she has to make her case, the same with all the others and that case has to be made atleast for me out her on the plains of Eastern Montana.

  3. Does no one care that she was a million dollar DC lobbyist? She represents no part of the Montana working class.

    • True. And if that is not proof enough, read what she had to say in her announcement. She declared that banks need LESS regulation. It is one of the more politically tone-deaf announcement statements of any Congressional candidate anywhere this year:

      “For example, bank regulations can discourage local lenders from making loans to some higher-risk businesses that could pay off well for the local economy, she said.”

      So, Ms. Smith is convinced that the salvation of America’s economy rests on letting banks act as carefree as they did before the banking industry collapsed in 2008. While that is not unusual rhetoric to hear from a Republican candidate, Ms. Smith has mistakenly chosen to jump into the Democratic primary for Montana’s open U.S. House seat – which is surprising, given Ms. Smith’s federal contribution history.

  4. Why do we persist in the delusion that we must send people to Washington who are not part of “the Beltway system” — i.e., people with no experience? And then we whine that the people we send there have become part of the system and are ineffectual? It’s like taking your brain tumor to a neurosurgeon who has never operated on anyone.

    We should instead seek out people who have experience and a demonstrated ability to operate in the cesspool where, as Alan Simpson put it, “the solids are quick to rise to the top.”

  5. I’m voting for Gillan because I like her tenacity and fight. Senator Gillan was a fighter this session against the TEA Party crazy and I appreciate her for this.

  6. So come election time there’ll be a choice between a Republican right winger and a Democratic right winger.

    That ‘s so unusual!

  7. Anyone know something about Montana Residents for Fair Property Taxation: http://mtproptax.org/About_Us/about_us.htm? Diane Smith is listed as their exec. director. A friend of mine from the Flathead says the group is just a bunch of rich people who don’t want to pay their fair share of property taxes. A lot of California transplants, absentee land owners, and rich east coasters – just the kind of group that Smith is very much a part of.

  8. Let’s see… write a book filled with right-wing philosophy, file for public office, receive tons of free publicity, true believers then actually pay you for your fact-free ramblings. If you’re really good at, the Koch brothers will buy a couple boxcar loads, direct from the publisher.
    You’re rich!
    It’s working for Palin, Newt, Cain, well, just about the whole GOP menagerie.
    Sounds like a plan.

  9. Whatever the case, Smith is going to raise the average IQ of the Dem U.S. House candidate pool about a hundred points.
    If anyone of you know Sharon Morrison, well, Smith fits that category of first-tier smarts.
    It’s a safe bet that Smith crunched the numbers on the fundraising efforts of the competition, balanced that against her donor pool and social network, and made a decision.
    Gonna be real interesting.

    • Dave-The only number crunching Smith did was to look at her bank account and decide that she might be able to buy a seat in Congress. You give this republican woman way too much credit.

    • The difference is Shirley Morrison has more class on her little finger than Diane Smith has head to toe. Diane Smith has said some really stupid things in Whitefish City Council meetings. Not sure I agree about her being as smart as Shirley M.

  10. sorry Sharon Morrison….

  11. Based on Diane Smith’s cozy relationship with Rick Blake and her support of republican candidates for the Whitefish City council, I do not believe Diane Smith is anything close to a democrat.

    Personally, Franke Wilmer has my support! http://act.boldprogressives.org/sign/sign_ows_99_boehner/?source=bp

  12. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2011 8:46 AM at 8:46 AM |

    THERE’S A KOCKH IN MY TEA! Here’s Mittens plan for the Pubbies. It looks a WHOLE LOT like the Big Kock plan for Murca. What part of the Big Kock does Dopey Reeburp disavow? Are Teatards in Montana REALLY stoopid enough to fall for this shit? This is just so sad.


  13. I don’t know, why is it so bad to have a candidate who can win? Granted, I’d like to know more about this candidate, but sounds like she is somneone who could have a serious shot at beating Daines.

  14. I think we need to be careful here about mS Smith! I spent a little time reading her bio, and back checking myself, and I think she has catered to GOP Ideas more then I like! Im still staying with Franke on this!

  15. Re the Republican primary. That’s actually a good point.

  16. Please forgive this shameless plug, Cowgirl. Shocking as it might seem, there are smart Liberal women blogging in South Dakota, too.

  17. James, you left out a major salience. Smith along with Lyle Phillips represented the doughnut civilians in the interlocal agreement revision. The people she supports in the Whitefish city election do not support the city repeal referendum and seek a cooperative rather than litigational approach to city-county relations and doughnut policy rights.
    There’s your explanation for her alleged “Republicanism.” And you bet, given the Abramoff interview, with Burns on the telecom committee, you bet she’d contribute in self-interest. That’s bipartisan….
    Thanks for the Tester record, a cool grand is considerably more than either Rehberg or Burns got.

    • That may explain her contributions to Askew, et al, but I rather doubt Democratic primary voters will consider it justification. A certain amount of party loyalty is expected of candidates.

  18. Diane doesn’t seem to have her own act together yet she consults businesses on political matters.

  19. Anybody can win a 5 way race.

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