Denise Juneau has announced formally that she will run for Congress in 2016. This is welcome news. Juneau has a distinguished career chief of Montana’s schools. This means she understands budgeting, and that’s important if you consider the recently reported news that Ryan Zinke, our current incumbent, has spent an astonishing $1.4 million in campaign money from his re-election account since January. That is a mind boggling and utterly bewildering amount. What in god’s name could he be spending campaign money on when he has not even formed a re-election campaign, run a TV ad or sent a campaign mailer out?
The answer is anything and everything. For example, he’s spent $1400 at Amazon, for “books,” and $100 for “airline meals” at United, and $5,000 at Staples in Bozeman for “supplies.”
He’s spent tens of thousands for “catering” and “credit card fees.” Most unusually, he has “lodging” for $1,900 at the Willard Hotel and $2300 at the Ritz Carlton. Such expenditures are listed over and over again on his FEC report, along with major expenditures to political consultants, dozens of them as much as $15,000 a pop.
None of this makes any sense, and further inquiry is in order.
In the meantime, this seat has always been an uphill battle, to say the least. Jon Tester was the first new Democrat to be sent to Washington since 1979, and few democratic House candidates have cracked 40% in recent times. Juneau, who is both beloved by base voters and has the populist appeal that will win independents and undecideds to her side, will do much to generate enthusiasm this election cycle. This will help bolster turnout for all races, which is important given that Obama is at a very low 33% percent job approval among Montana voters. We will be rooting for Denise.