Denise Juneau just became an even stronger candidate

People often complain that politicians are too staged, too programmed, too fake, and too eager to be seen as perfect. Today, we learned that in addition to her tremendous accomplishments, Denise Juneau is a real person just like the rest of us. And she’s not afraid to be honest about it.

Mike Dennison has a story up this afternoon talking about two DUI’s that Denise Juneau got 30 years ago, both that happened while she was in college here in Montana. One in 1986 when she was 19, and the other in 1989 when she was 22.

Somewhere in DC there is a political hack who thinks this kind of campaign mud signals a bump in the road for Juneau. But in Montana, it’s a very different story. The truth is, Denise Juneau just became an even stronger candidate who is lot more relatable to a lot more voters in Montana. And it’s not because she had a DUI 30 years ago. It’s because she picked herself up when she was down, took responsibility for mistakes she made, got her life straightened out, and went on to finish college, go to Harvard, get a law degree, and later become the first democratic Native American woman to ever be elected to a statewide office in the entire country.

As Juneau told Dennison, “I’m able to say I learned from those (incidents) and have moved on and done some good things, I think, for the state of Montana.”

Indeed she has. Her story is an inspiring one that people can relate to. We all know people who made mistakes when they were young, and we all know people who have turned their lives around when faced with those challenges.

Juneau has never been a politician who tries to hide from her past, or pretend to be someone she is not. That’s refreshing, a change of pace, and a good reason why Ryan Zinke has something to seriously worry about in this next election.


20 Comments on "Denise Juneau just became an even stronger candidate"

  1. Juneau handled this well. A 30-year-old dui is not relevant to her ability to serve the public as an elected official.

  2. We could not get any luckier than to have Denise enter this race. She is a winner, a great candidate, a great person, smart, tough and determined to serve Montana.

  3. Excellent points and heck, look at Brad Johnson, former Sec. of State who had a problem with alcohol and he came back and is now chair of the PSC and considering the race for governor.

  4. While Juneau will be a good candidate, you over-trumpet her biography. There were several other Native American women elected to statewide office before her.

    Estelle Reel was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction for Wyoming in 1894.

    Jessie Elizabeth Randolph Moore was elected Clerk Of the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 1926.

    Denise would be in good company should she win. But it would be nice if the Cowgirl could pay more attention to Native history.

    • Thank you for the additional information rez-watcher – and for your comments. I would love to know more about Native history and if you can recommend some good reads as a starting place I’m betting I’m not the only one who would appreciate it – Cowgirl

      P.S. I’m also pleased that Wyoming is on this list – our neighbors to the south were the first state to allow women the vote and the first state to elect an Indian woman to statewide office. Way to go Wyomingites.

  5. Great articles. Think of what we will become if people don’t get a second chance. This appears to be the case more often than not. There seems to be a mindset that the best way to solve problems is to lock them up and throw away the key. Most people have genuine regret before they ever get to court and are sentenced. The prisons and the ones who supply them,then reap the bounty instead of the states which could be far more productive with people working and paying into the system, instead of the existing tax payers paying for a failed system. And it is a failed system when you see that America has More people in prison than any other civilized nation on earth. Judge Stephen Breyer stated that the Judicial System is broken and they [Supreme Court} is powerless to fix it. SO where does America go from here ?

    • In my opinion, Step One for where America goes from here is fixing our broken democracy. The Supreme Court can’t fix the problem, because its role is interpreting laws, not creating them. Congress has to create the laws. Changing the laws to fix the system has to come from Congress. Unfortunately, Congress is basically dysfunctional at this point, which I think is in large part because of the way that we fund election campaigns.

      One part of the problem that you see is private prisons, which (like hotels) are more profitable with higher occupancy rates. They have an incentive to lock people up because it’s good for them, regardless of whether or not it’s best for society or for the people being locked up. Private prisons, like any other special interest group, can use lobbyists and campaign contributions to sway the people in congress to do what’s best for them, even if it might not be particularly good for the general population. When lobbyists talk to people in congress, they don’t need to rely on the strength of the argument. The campaign funds speak LOUDLY.

      MAYDAY is working to elect representatives in congress who support changing the way campaigns are financed. (

      Passing some version of The Citizen’s Equality Act would change the way that we fund political campaigns, along with making other changes that promote greater democracy. (

  6. I look forward to doing all I can to help Denise get elected. Montana is lucky to have some really brilliant minds in our First Nation Communities-I have met many young examples of our future leadership and I am humbled by them all. It’s amazing what happens when you send them to school instead of prison…

  7. I love Denise, friend neighbor and watched her grow up! So what if she had some bumps in the road. Our Native people are the worst to condem. I have a Son that is a Taylor by trade and has done many theater
    Plays, shows and movies but all his own people can think of is his DUI’S. What a shame instead of clapping for him they gossip about him. I will pray for Denise and my son also, anyone else who needs a prayer. AND to those of you that are ready to ridicule I prayer for you as well. Bless our Country & Paris.p

  8. This is one of the best, most succinct posts I’ve seen. Well said.

  9. Sure didn’t take the media long to find something negative on Denise, but sometimes that better because it shows that she is human and has made mistakes in her life. Not only was it along time ago but she learned from it. We were all young once and I am sure that people have done things that they are not proud of. This type of stuff shows that denise is a threat in the political arena and I am sure that there will be more attacks, but it will only make her a stronger candidate in all the native communities and Montana. So with that Denise keep working hard and you are a great asset to all of us in indian country and Montana.

  10. If you read Mike’s story he implies that Denise is the only female Native American to currently hold a state office. Yea, Cowgirl missed the mark, but not by much. I understand her enthusiasm. I appreciate Cowgirl’s reply to rez-watcher. I’m also interested in good reads pertaining to current Native American history.

  11. Thank you, Denise Juneau, for your integrity. When we look at alcohol consumption among young people in Montana, it’s probably luck that many more have NOT gotten DUI’s. Some get caught. Some are unable to pick themselves up. But you have more than picked yourself up. I am so grateful that you have chosen to serve our state. You are a true leader!

  12. The current GOP Gubernatorial candidate Brad Johnson, was 59 yrs old, a public figure and former Secretary of State who was running for the PSC WHEN he received his DUI by blowing 3x’s the legal limit ONLY 5 short years ago….if the MTGOP has no problem with that they shouldn’t say much about something that happened 30 years ago in college. Juneau’s story is truly one of redemption.

  13. A true person who uses her experiences so that others know there is life beyond our mistakes. It makes us stronger than ever to get the job done. I honor Denise’s integrity.

  14. We need Denise in congress now. Oh, did we mention she (IS NOT a NAVY SEAL)

  15. where do i contribute to her campaign?

  16. where do i contribute?

  17. Hell, In Montana getting a DUI might be a kudo to some folks, and guess what, maybe we can ‘sway’ Zinke to go get one himself just to show he’s got a DUI too!

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