Skees and Johnson lose out
The Chamber of Commerce, a rock solid Republican organization whose politics are about as far right as the NRA when it comes to endorsing candidates, has abandoned two GOP candidates seeking statewide office: Derek Skees and Brad Johnson. The Chamber, instead, has endorsed their democratic opponents, Monica Lindeen and Linda McCulloch, the incumbent Auditor and Secretary of State, respectively.
As humiliating as this is for Skees an Johnson, it’s hardly surprising given that they’ve only raised a combined $10k combined for the entire election cycle. The Chamber does not like to make bets on sure losers.
The press release announcing the Chamber’s endorsements says that in the State Auditor’s race, Democratic incumbent Monica Lindeen was chosen over challenger Derek Skees because she had “more of a reasonable approach to the important duties of insurance and securities regulation.” Skees is the leader of the faction of Republicans in Montana that is actually further right than the Tea Party, though I don’t know if that faction has a name. This blog calls them nutjobs, wingnuts, etc. Recall that Derek Skees is the Republican state legislator who proudly wore a Confederate flag emblazoned on his jacket during the Whitefish Memorial Day parade. During the legislative session, Skees failed to pass a single bill–in a session where his party had vast majorities of both houses. His nutty proposals included shrinking number of Montana Supreme Court justices and creating and 11-member panel with the authority to nullify federal laws.
In the race for Secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Linda McCulloch because she has “a stellar record as a Land Board member.” Left unsaid was that challenger Brad Johnson, a former SOS who was beaten by McCulloch, has had problems sobering up recently (at least one visit to rehab), has had a few DUIs, and, in the article reporting on his announcement for office, was unable to state a single reason why the current SOS, Linda McCulloch, should be replaced. Plus Johnson tried to hand out large salary bonuses to his buddies in the Secretary of State’s office on the last day of his term in 2008.
He also says that he currently works as a “consultant”, although it is unclear who, if anyone, is paying him for his consultations.
The realization by the Chamber that the GOP has such weak candidates in these races is good news for Democrats. It is a strong indication that these candidates have been completely written off by the GOP, and control of the land board will likely remain in the hands of the Dems even if we don’t “run the table” on all five statewide races.
Also, Johnson, with the $2,000 Johnson has raised for his campaign, was unable to afford A-list talent for a new campaign ad, so his campaign could only release this spot, today, which features the endorsement of a cat. “Vote for Old Johnson.” Campaign insiders are saying this ad could be a game changer. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSWXqC7Dlhs