Monthly Archives: November 2011

Best Announces for Supreme Court

News outlets across the state reported this week that Great Falls attorney Beth Best has officially announced her candidacy for the Montana Supreme Court Justice.  Best is running for the seat that will be open when Justice Jim Nelson retires. Beth stated she

“is running for the Montana Supreme Court because I believe in public service, and access to justice for every person as guaranteed by our Constitution.”


Throughout state history only four women have ever been elected to the Montana Supreme Court.  If elected, Best would be the fifth. You can read more about Best from her press release, a portion of which is pasted below the fold.  Or, visit the campaign website:

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It’s Peggy Miller Time

Meet a possible new first lady.

It’s Peggy Miller, wife of gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller.  Peggy has often been active holding religious seminars for legislators.

On Friday, she took the reins of her husband’s campaign and sent out a blast email saluting veterans, letting people know that among the many reasons they should be supporting the Miller ticket is that the Millers fly a giant American flag above their furniture store, and that Ken once constructed a 20-foot eagle on his front lawn, made out of American flags.

It’s an often rambling and redundancy-filled email, full of gushing praise for her husband. And the sort of suggests that Miller’s running for Governor is akin to a call to service in the military.   Like veterans, Peggy implies, Ken

“felt called to run for Governor and use his experience to serve our state, working to preserve the freedoms that we have been given — freedoms that our military fights for. This drive to preserve freedom, among many of his principles, will enable Ken to restore our Treasure State.”

But there is one juicy part, which seems deliberate to me, almost a veiled warning shot across the bow of Rick and Betti Hill.

“The way we are working on this campaign is also how we have always done things in our marriage. I am fortunate to be working side-by-side with Ken in this endeavor, just as I have with him on the dairy farm near Joliet, Montana, and with our construction and other businesses.”

“We are very thankful we have had the grace to be together for 31 years and blessed with two children, Max and Kyndall, who both attend Montana State University (go, Bobcats!).  I can honestly give a firm answer of yes whenever I’m asked if I would marry Ken again.  In fact, I did so in 2010 when we renewed our vows to each other. I admire my husband so much for the team approach we have had with our marriage and in raising our children.”

What she is really saying, in not so many words, is that she’s never brought the kids to the Sip N’ Dip bar and lounge.


Livingstone Hits Rock Bottom

The wheels of the strange campaign of Neil Livingstone for Governor are no longer turning and might soon come off the bus.

According to local Whitefish sources, Livingstone’s campaign bus, which has a giant photo of himself on the side of it, has been sitting still at Ryan Zinke’s house (Livingstone’s number two man) for several months.

Livingstone’s Facebook page and website have also been parked idle for a long while. As of this morning, the campaign hadn’t posted anything on Facebook since July 28th and as for Livingstone’s website, the last posting was from April 19th.  The posting was a “weekly recipe” (Livingstone was once fond of regularly posting his delicious cooking ideas) and was “chile con carne“, presumably the Peruvian variety.

And the campaign was broke as of the last fundraising report (which is probably why the bus has been idle–no gas money).

It had once been assumed that Livingstone would put personal money into this race, given his supposed high net worth. But it now seems like either Livingstone’s assets are fewer than previously thought, or he has simply lost interest in the whole enterprise.

Nonetheless, there is one important piece of activity coming from Livingstone’s running mate Zinke.

Zinke, on his own personal Facebook page, has just today called for a rally to “Occupy Whitefish”. But not as an objection to big bailed out banks and fat Wall Street bonuses. Nor in response to a seven percent unemployment rate or the fact that middle class wages have been stagnant for a decade. No. It’s an “Occupy Whitefish In Support of the Jesus Statue” rally, scheduled for Friday, at the local Chevrolet dealership.

Unfortunately, I hear that Jesus is supporting Ken Miller.

UPDATED Analysis: TEA Party Republicans Lose Big in Montana Local Elections

Montanans saw sweeping victories for progressives from across the state today. And while it is yet to be seen whether this will translate into a wave of momentum for the Dems next year, one thing is known. The TEA Party legislature proved itself guilty of a major overreach during the last session. In turn, TEA Party Republicans were soundly rejected by voters.

Nowhere did the phenomena manifest itself more dramatically than in the Flathead, where the TEA Party candidates backed by Chuck Denowh, John Sinrud and the Realtors, Ricky Lynn Blake and a slate of developers and self-funded shadow PACs spent big bucks on attacking their opponents–and were all defeated.

Congratulations to John Muhlfeld, John Anderson, Richard Hildner and Frank Sweeney and the large numbers of voters who turned out to defeat a well-funded crew of special interest nutjobs. The victories weren’t limited to Whitefish either.  The only openly self proclaimed Tea Party candidate in the Flathead County elections, Erik Jerde, garnered a soul-crushing 34 votes out of 1275 cast in Kalispell. Those whom supported Tea Party poster boy Derek Skees in 2010 also all lost…Askew, Vail and Wise.  Tea Party candidates lost in the Flathead Valley Community College Trustees election as well as the municipal elections.

In Great Falls, a woman who refused all donations beat the leader of the Cascade County TEA Party, Cyndi Baker.  As the Great Falls Tribune reports, the TEA Partier had the most campaign signs of any candidate and the second largest campaign war chest.  Baker blamed her defeat on teachers, despite losing by a margin of 84-16.

In Helena, the conservative candidate was defeated by Matt Elsaesser, who was re-elected by a wide margin, and newcomer Katherine Haque-Hausrath. Progressives also had major victories in Missoula including Caitlin Copple, Cynthia Wolken, Alex Taft, and others, as D. Gregory Smith at From Eternity to Here writes.

Billings also had a big win against the TEA Party, where the Billings “Montana Shrugged” TEA Party leader Jennifer Olsen was easily routed by Ken Crouch.  Progressives Brent Cromley and Becky Bird also won handily.   Denis Pitman, the conservative minister of Fuji Spa fame, is still in (proving the power of incumbency).  However, Pitman’s opponent probably succeeded in halting his higher political ambitions now that voters know he checks his family man-of-God morality at the door once profits are on the table, and for that, we can be thankful.

UPDATE: In Bozeman, progressive Cyndy Andrus defeated Bill Fiedler by a whopping 4,289 votes to 2,209 votes. Fiedler was a member of the developers’ crew–he’s a member of the board of directors of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association.

So, even though TEA Party Republicans won a legislative majority in 2010, they made a mistake in interpreting their one-time wins as a go-ahead to let voters know their true beliefs and goals. So it appears that focusing on nutjob bills over jobs was indeed a bad idea.  They paid for it in the off-year elections.   The progressives also won because they fielded some terrific candidates–people who actually cared about their community and its people more than getting a platform on which to scream TEA Party platitudes and shut down government.  They worked very, very hard on the doors, raised money to get their message out, and voters responded well.

Congratulations to the winners!  Here’s to a repeat of this in 2012.

Fighting Back

Republicans have launched a war on voting to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year, Rolling Stone reports. Here in Montana, voter suppression has been at the forefront of the GOP’s attempt to regain power for years.  Remember former GOP Executive Director and current GOP political consultant Jake Eaton, who was forced to resign over the scandal to make it more difficult for 6,000 Montanans to vote? Even after this, the GOP boldly introduced voter suppression bills–only to have them strategically blocked by minority democrats and vetoed by the Governor.

While some young people across America are squatting in public parks in favor of…something, the College Democrats at Montana State University and the University of Montana aren’t going to stand by reading poetry and choreographing interpretive dances.  Instead, College Dems chapters at each of these schools will be competing in a voter registration drive during the week leading up to the big Cat/Griz game, Nov 14-18.

“Even though we’re on opposing sides on the football field, we stand together committed to electing responsible leadership like Jon Tester in 2012. College Democrats were crucial in the recent elections, and we’re just as excited and ready for the 2012 elections” said Blair Ward, president of the MSU College Democrats.

“The first step to getting involved is registering. Over the next year we’ll be registering voters and getting them involved to elect leaders like Sen. Tester who have fought for students.” said Stephen Carnes, president of the University of Montana College Democrats.

The winner of the registration drive will be announced at the tailgate hosted by the MSU College Democrats before the Cat/Griz game. Here’s the info:

Winner of the Cat/Griz voter registration drive announced
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Bobcat Stadium Student Tailgate Area

To get involved or for more information, contact: Blair Ward, Chair, Montana State University College Democrats, 406-599-1818 or Stephen Carnes, Chair, University of Montana College Democrats, 406-544-0953

UPDATE: You can get more info and RSVP for this tailgate on Facebook at:

Location, Location, Location

Besides Ken Miller and a few Republican staffers, Congressman Rehberg had a pretty sparse turnout for his recent “Liberate Main Street” astroturf tour.  What gives?

After decades as a politician, perhaps Congressman Rehberg knows more big shots in Washington D.C. than actual Main Street Montanans. Maybe if he had held his rally inside the Beltway, Rehberg could have found someone to stand up for his effort to stand up for Wall Street CEOs.

Here are some guesses on who would have attended Rehberg’s rallies if he had held them in D.C.: