Some terrific intrigue for my readers to nibble on this evening.
We had news today that a “source” is saying that Walsh is “deliberating” dropping out of the race. This source could be any of many Montana political insiders and not necessarily one associated with the campaign. But Walsh’s own spokesperson did seem hesitant to go so far as to say that Walsh is committed 100% to staying in the race for the long haul. He also cancelled his public events for the next two days. And, Walsh himself has not been visible this week and will not return calls.
I would suggest that all of this must mean there is a good chance that tomorrow Walsh will announce that he is leaving the race. As James Conner points out, “Monday, 11 August, is the last day Walsh can withdraw from the ballot. The deadline for submitting a replacement candidate is 20 August.” Mr. Conner wrote a piece earlier today on this race at the Flathead Memo that’s worth reading.
If none of this turns out to unfold as I am suggesting, then what we have instead is a bad case of disorganized crisis management. It’s one or the other. It cannot be neither.
There’s another thing I learned tonight, courtesy of an astute tipster: Nancy Keenan’s name appears to have been fully scrubbed from the website of the political firm that she works for, Hilltop Public Solutions. That’s a political consulting firm with an office in Billings as well as other cities around America. This cannot be a coincidence.
Keenan would be an excellent candidate and presents us with a real shot at having a female as a top-tier elected official, the first since Judy Martz. Keenan is a former Schools chief for Montana for two terms and former national head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, has been mentioned as one of the top replacement candidates. She ran for Congress in 2000 and Denny Rehberg’s cronies tried to attack her for being a single woman and not having a family.
Denise Juneau, meanwhile, is a name that is being mentioned as well. She too would be a very strong candidate and would certain bring out not only progressive votes but also many female votes and many Indian votes too.
One final piece of intrigue. Hilltop Public Solutions is, in addition to employing Keenan, the firm that has been doing all of Walsh’s campaign work, taking a hefty fee. The firm is a collection of former Baucus and Tester staffers. Much of what we are reading and seeing about Walsh today–the sources, the spokespeople, etc.–is the work of this firm. So if Walsh has reached the end of the line, he is, in his final hours, depending on a workforce with a serious conflict of interest. It’s interesting if nothing else. And it’s proof again that politics is a place where self interest always lurking. I suppose, however, that I can’t blame them for wanting to dump him in favor of Keenan, who will most certainly hire back the firm, which is her former employer.
More important, if Keenan is the indeed the deal, it’s good news all around and it’s about as good a way for Democrats to spin out of this entire episode as anyone could have hoped for. She has a lot of energy and spunk, is smart, can raise money, and will talk bluntly and straight.