Monthly Archives: January 2012

Congressional Candidates Reveal Their Finances

The federal candidates released their fundraising numbers today.

The House Race:

Kim Gillan (Billings) retains the lead over Diane Smith (Whitefish) and Franke Wilmer (Bozeman), with more cash in the bank. (cash balances: Gillan $100K, Smith $75K, Wilmer $54K).   Smith, however, had a big quarter and nearly doubled what Wilmer and Smith each brought in, Smith raising $100K to Wilmer’s $55K and Gillan’s $52K.

The bad news is that on the GOP side, Steve Daines raised $173K and has $631K clams in the bank.

The Senate Race:

Tester continues to kick the shit out of Rehberg in fundraising, probably because Tester is capable of speaking in full, grammatical sentences while speaking to prospective donors on the telephone.

As the Missoulian reports:

Rehberg raised $656,000 during the last quarter of the year, compared to Tester’s $1.2 million. Rehberg also had a little more than half of the Democrat’s $3.8 million cash on hand.

To recap, in the State races reported last month the snapshot were: Bullock handily beating Rick Hill (governor); Bucy edging out Laslovich (attorney general) by a hair for the quarter, Laslovich raising slightly more overall but Bucy having more cash on hand; and Lindeen, Juneau and McCulloch beating their likely GOP opponents.

Muppets Respond to FoxNews “Brain-Washing Kids” Accusation

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy hit back at Fox News this week during a press conference following the London Premiere of the latest muppet movie. Recall that Fox News had publicly criticized the film for supposedly pushing a ‘dangerous liberal agenda’ at kids.

The topic of muppet brainwashing was debated on FOX’s “Follow the Money,” with a network host and two commentators saying big oil isn’t being treated fairly. Here’s the clip:

 

Polling Quick Hits

Damage Control

Public Policy Polling came out with a poll a while back that had Tester and Rehberg in a statistical dead heat.  Then, the Republican political front group known as the Montana Chamber of Commerce came out with a poll, which they were forced to release, much to their chagrin, because the poll had Tester leading by five.

The Rehberg campaign needed damage control, so they had the Republican Party get a polling firm to release a poll that showed…guess what?  Rehberg up by 11 points.

The poll, conducted by the firm Public Opinion Strategies for Karl Rove’s secretive organization American Crossroads, shows questionable and uncharacteristic results for the race between Jon Tester and Congressman Dennis Rehberg.

Perhaps the campaign wasn’t aware that a second poll was released today, also conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, has much different results.  It shows the race much closer—well within the margin of error.

 

Common Ground 

In addition to testing voter opinions of Jon Tester and Dennis Rehberg, the Public Opinion Strategies survey also tested current voter attitudes of Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is one of the most popular Governors in the U.S. (65 percent approve to 24 percent disapprove).

That’s something even Rehberg’s campaign manager Erik Iverson can agree on.  In a television appearance, Rehberg’s campaign manager told Tom Brokaw his opinion of the Governor.  Here’s the clip:

 

Conservation

The poll also found that Montana voters across the political spectrum – from Tea Party supporters to those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement – think of themselves as conservationists and support preserving Montana’s air, land, water and wildlife to protect the economy, and their way of life. The Montana results are particularly interesting.  In fact:

63% say increasing the use of renewable  energy will create jobs in Montana, and three-quarters (75%) of state voters indicate support for Montana increasing the use of renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal from ten  percent to 25 percent by 2025.

Links to all of the Colorado College, State of the Rockies polls for Montana (and other western states) can be found here.

 

 

Further Thoughts about the Jesus Hearing

Many commenters weighed in on my discussion yesterday about Denny Rehberg’s play to get maximum publicity on his idiotic obsession with a Jesus statue. A robust discussion, as always.

A few commenters hit on what I believe are the most salient points: First, the statue isn’t going to be moved anywhere, nor has there ever been any real possibility that it would.   The forest service obviously doesn’t set much store by a silly group from Wisconsin, claiming that the inquisition is upon us because a statue is still standing in the same spot it’s been standing in for the last 60 years. They will take comments from the public, and the most likely adopt status quo.

Second, and more to the point: isn’t there something more important than this statue that Montana’s lone Representative could be working on right now, given that a national recession is at hand?  And even though Denny Rehberg is not the sharpest tool in the shed, doesn’t he see some risk of backlash in spending so much time on an issue like this, given that his reputation is already cemented as a Congressman that has never done anything for Montana except author a bill that re-named a Post Office?

Tea Party Congressman to Hold Hearing on the Fate of Jesus

Rehberg loves Big Mountain JesusWho says Congress doesn’t work on issues that matter to Americans during tough economic times?

Montana congressman Denny Rehberg, co-founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and Michelle Bachmann’s earliest endorser, has announced that he will hold a hearing this week on a crucial issue: a statue of Jesus at a ski resort.

For the last several months, Rehberg has been all Jesus all the time, obsessed with a small ceramic statue of Christ that sits on the edge of a ski run at Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, Montana.

There’s been a slew of press releases and a blitz of national TV appearances on shows like “Fox and Friends.”  He put up a Save the Jesus Statue website (constructed with his congressional office funds) and went on a whirlwind Save Jesus tour around Montana, with e-mail action alerts, a “draft legislative solution,”  and robo-calls to thousands of Montana voters, telling them that he is working hard to save Jesus and urging them to support him in this important work. He spent Veterans Day meeting with veterans to tell them that their support for him (Rehberg) in this important cause is crucial.

And now, the grand finale in Rehberg’s heroic effort to prove that he is pro-Jesus: a hearing about the statue, before a Congressional committee, this friday.

The small statue was erected in the 1950s on a piece of National Forest land that abuts the ski area, and the permit has now come up for renewal after six decades.  The Forest Service was notified by an “anti-establishment” group from Wisconsin that if it renewed the permit, it would be in violation of the establishment clause.  The Forest Service has thus considered options, one of which is to simply ignore the Wisconsin group’s threats.  Another option is (gasp) to move the statue a few feet onto private land.  That’s an outrage, says Rehberg.

Rehberg is five points down in his race against Jon Tester for the US Senate, so obviously he believes that a boost in his pro-Jesus street cred is needed to consolidate the evangelical vote.

Also, Tester’s star is very high among veterans, and has been so ever since he took office in 2007 and immediately made vets a centerpiece of his domestic policy.  Of course, Tester focuses not on statues, but on services–health care for veterans, jobs for veterans, loans for veterans, things that matter. Veterans like Tester, a lot.  But Montana Republicans (who after two decades of dominance have been virtually eradicated as statewide officeholders, thanks to Schweitzer, Tester and a resurgent Democratic party) believe that the veteran vote is a GOP birthright that can never be taken from them.

Tester also believes the statue should remain unmolested.  But after making his opinion known, he moved on to doing real work on things that matter, because he understands (unlike Rehberg who is a man-child) that if you are in Congress, you should be acting like an adult.

And guess who is coming to the Big Mountain area in a few weeks? You guessed it. Tim Tebow will be in nearby Kalispell, Montana, to talk at a fundraiser for a Christian School. Tebow is sure to weigh in on the Big Mountain Jesus issue.

After all, what could be more important?

Dumb and Dumber

If you want to know why the Montana Republican Empire has been on a sure and steady decline in the last several years, all you need to do is see a few of the GOP’s leading legislators in action, trying to hatch a plot against Schweitzer.  For that, read Intelligent Discontent on the Associated Press piece about a peach of an e-mail that made the rounds this week, courtesy of GOP Senators Ed Buttrey and Jim Peterson.

Truth v. Lies: Economic Facts About Montana

(A 2012 Montana election primer for Democrats)

A while back I posted some talking points for Democrats. A few commenters asked for some elaboration.  These points are very important for candidates and citizens alike, and I will reiterate them today.

It must first be understood that the GOP imbeciles in Montana (meaning most candidates, operatives, party leaders, heads of conservative groups, legislators and so on), have been in a state of perpetual anger and rage for the last six years or so. Why?   Because they controlled Montana for 20 years, virtually ran it into the ground, and then have since been forced look on, helplessly, as Democrats took over the reins, went to work, and helped Montana make great strides.

Republicans cannot abide the fact that Dems have gotten the state in strong shape after decades of GOP neglect. Thus they have resorted to a rather sad strategy: they denigrate, deride and degrade (trash, in essence) the state of Montana, the Montana economy, and state government, even though we have one of the best economies and most efficient state governments in America.

Facts

1.  Under Democrats, Montana has developed more energy (wind, coal, oil, gas) than at any time in history. (http://www.innovatemontana.com/economic-development/economic-development-report/)

2. For the last several years Montana has been ranked consistently among the top ten states in America for our tax climate and our business climate.  We are one of the best places in America to start a business, across the board. Just this week, we were rated 8th best in the nation. (http://helenair.com/news/local/state-and-regional/study-ranks-montana-eighth-in-business-tax-climate/article_ad5e20da-47ec-11e1-8152-0019bb2963f4.html)

3.  We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.  This week, it went down again, to below 7%.  (http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/c068f307265449a18d8af20db28f23d1/MT–Montana-Unemployment/)

4.  This has not gone unnoticed by Montana voters, for when asked, 55% of them recently said in a survey that the state economy is on the right track as opposed to the wrong track. In only three other states in America did voters respond so positively to that question.  In most states, voters think their state economy sucks.  (http://www.publicsectorinc.com/map/pdf/mi_ss_mt.pdf)

5.  Finally, Montana was recently rated as the best fiscally managed state in America. Eighty-three percent of Montanans think that state government is managing taxpayer money wisely.  No other state came even close.  (http://mtcowgirl.com/2011/09/22/stunning-poll-results-from-a-ten-state-survey/)

(http://www.publicsectorinc.com/map/pdf/mi_ss_mt.pdf)

6.  And why shouldn’t they feel this way?  Montana has a $400 million surplus.  In fact, for the last five years Montana has had a record sized surplus.  And only a handful of states have surpluses right now. Most are in financial crisis. And Dems have cut more taxes than Republicans ever did. (http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/montana-budget-looking-at-million-surplus/article_a8764bcb-2076-5c99-a128-e54fbb473922.html)

7.  Don’t just take my (liberal) word for it.  Ask FoxNews or the Wall Street Journal, both of whom recently editorialized about the spectacular fiscal shape the state is in. For that matter, so did Denny Rehberg and Newt Gingrich.  And so has every major newspaper in Montana.

(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704130904574644510559988716.html)

(http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/IndyBlog/archives/2011/10/18/fox-news-contributor-suggests-dems-follow-montanas-lead)

8.  The extra dough that Democrats have saved taxpayers has been (1) returned in the form of a rebate (the largst taxpayer rebate ever in Montana) and (2) spent on education, a historic investment in schools. (http://www.governor.mt.gov/boed/docs/GovernorsPresentationToBoardOfEducation_Jan_2008.pdf) see page 5

These are important points that, too often, are not internalized by Democratic candidates. But they are crucial.  They are a dagger in the heart of Republicans.  The message is very clear: In Montana, Democrats are a special breed, who are good with money, run government efficiently, and know how to create jobs and a strong business climate.  It’s why Schweitzer has become one of the most popular Governors in America; it’s why Democrats won big in 2008; and it’s probably why Tester is leading Rehberg.

Why are these points, as opposed to other things that Democrats like to talk about, the ones that must be emphasized? Because they rebut the false story told by Republicans which is that Montana is strangling business with too much regulation, too many taxes, too much spending, etc.

This is what they are saying right now.  Rick Hill, GOP candidate for Governor, was on the radio for a half hour the other day, and all he could do was trash Montana.  The irony, of course, is the Rick Hill is a teat-sucker of major proportions. He sucked large at the government teat, earning almost a million bucks in taxpayer dollars as a landlord who rented property to the government. All while his wife was working in the governor’s office. And he’s complaining about “too much spending”?

Aside from being ineffective politically (because the polls show us that voters side with Democrats and like what they are seeing out of state government), it’s very unpatriotic and a truly awful dereliction of one’s civic duty, to throw your state under the bus, tell lies about it, in order to win an election.  Democrats like Schweitzer try to recruit businesses and market the state’s assets, and the GOP undercuts the whole effort by telling the whole world how bad Montana is for business, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Finally, I got an interesting comment from a blogger who said that these talking points I’ve provided for Dems “sound like Republican talking points.”  Trust me, there is nothing Republican about balancing the government checkbook and running a surplus, or using government in an active way to attract business to the state. Republicans know how to create deficits, cut taxes while fighting trillion dollar wars, and promote Federal Identification cards, and fight for Spear Hunting rights.  What Montana needs is strong management of an effective state government, and Dems have provided it. Adopting the Gold Standard is not a credible economic policy.  Again, the facts are in: Democrats know how to manage money; republicans do not.

And remember, there is a reason you hear the GOP gubernatorial candidates talk so much about Obama. It’s because they need to present voters with a Democratic boogeyman, and they can’t find one in in Montana.

The good news is, Democratic candidates are now on the offense talking about jobs, as you can see from the articles below.  Armed with the facts, we can all help them win.

 

KTVM:  http://www.nbcmontana.com/ktvm/30300689/detail.html
MT Standard:  http://mtstandard.com/news/local/democrats-listening-tour-stops-in-butte/article_1ef30e62-47df-11e1-ac06-001871e3ce6c.html
KXLH: http://www.kxlh.com/videos/democrats-host-jobs-tour-in-helena/
KFBB: http://www.kfbb.com/news/local/Democrats-Bring-Jobs-Tour-to-Capitol-City-138167454.html
Beartooth NBC: http://www.beartoothnbc.com/news/helena/17861-jobs-tour.html
MT Standard: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/business-jobs-listening-tour-coming-to-butte-wed/article_ed5c4092-45e7-11e1-a43d-001871e3ce6c.html
KFBB: http://www.kfbb.com/news/local/Democratic-Representatives-Meet-with-Residents-137630223.html

 

Congressman Rehberg: Clueless or Lying?

KXLH News is reporting this week on the issue of corruption and the need for accountability and transparency in Montana election laws. Tester supports it, Rehberg does not.

Here’s the video:

You can see that Rehberg either doesn’t understand the issue or is deliberately trying to mislead the public about what Citizens United is about.   Take a closer look at the Congressman’s statement for this report:

“I don’t think we should deny people their Constitutional right to free speech just because they’re part of a corporation instead of a different form of organization like a non-profit, a campaign or a union,”

Of course, this is not what Citizens United is about. Under the Citizens United decision, corporations can secretly spend unlimited money on political campaigns with no transparency or accountability—a decision Jon Tester opposes and is trying to overturn through a constitutional amendment. The speech and contributions of individual people is not at issue as Rehberg tries to claim.  To be sure, alcohol does kill brain cells.

Jon Tester meanwhile has always has been a clear champion of transparency and accountability.  In his recent opinion column, Tester said the Citizens United decision:

“undermines Montana’s values and America’s democracy by allowing big – even foreign – corporations to secretly buy American political elections.”

So Mutch for That

Ken Miller’s campaign manager has resigned, raising questions about the future of his campaign.

William Mutch has taken a job with the Colorado Springs Home Builders Association as Government Affairs Director.   If the former manager had left for a more exciting-sounding job, it would be easier to make the case that Mutch only left for that reason.  As it is, it may be a sign that the Miller campaign has come to an end.

The Miller campaign made a big deal about Mutch when he first came on.  At the time, Mutch said he found the race “extremely exciting.” Mutch even sent out a long e-mail declaring essentially that his entire career had culminated in this moment.  The bio page for Mutch on the Colorado Springs Home Builders Association website makes no mention of his most recent post.

 

Rehberg Twitter Account Hacked with Hilarious Results

Yes, someone pretending to be Congressman Rehberg appears to have hacked into his Twitter account to make it appear as if the Congressman is seriously asking the President to reverse his “purely political” opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline.  I guess they got his website too.

The hack is a real burn, since Congressman Dennis Rehberg was actually the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation who, in a purely political move, voted against the Keystone XL pipeline.  Just last month, Congressman Rehberg followed orders from his party bosses in voting against the pipeline and against a payroll tax holiday extension—a vote so unpopular Rep. Rehberg was forced to change his mind two days later.

Given Rehberg’s actual record, he could not possibly have really tweeted this, right?  It would make him look like a complete fraud.

Rep. Rehberg’s actual vote can be seen  here.

Rehberg is an easy target for this kind of prank.  After adding trillions to the national deficit, giving himself five pay raises, and securing tax breaks for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas, who would be suspicious that he would try to point his finger at someone else after voting against Montana jobs.

Thankfully, Congressman Rehberg’s account seems to have been reclaimed immediately, so it appears that the only damage the hackers were able to do involves this one item.