As everyone knows by now, it was announced Monday morning that the lieutenant governor, Angela McLean, is departing to take a job at the Office of Higher Education. In her new job she will be Director of American Indian and Minority Achievement & K-12 Partnerships at the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education.
The announcement was a surprise, but there had been inklings (including a scoop on James Connor’s blog, weeks ago) that McLean was on the way out, and there were some whispers about how she was not happy with her job because it was a bit empty of serious policy work, McLean having come from the Board of Regents and a major figure in education policy. It is true the the job of LG is light on substance. It is a job in which you fill in for the Governor if he can’t be somewhere. That’s just reality and if it’s true that this is the reason McLean left, then it is probably for the better. Hopefully her new gig (with a $20,000 annual raise) will be more along the lines of what she wants.
Republicans are seeking to make hay over an off-hand made by a Bozeman academic who offered his personal speculation that the Lt. Governor’s decision to take a job may somehow raise questions about the Governor’s ability to run the state.
The facts don’t support such speculation. The economic numbers that have been coming in are stellar. Montana’s economy is as strong as its been in decades and far stronger than the nation as a whole. Employment is at an all time high. Montana offers a trained work force with advanced education levels well over the national average. We’re in the top ten states for education in the nation. Additionally, Business Facilities Magazine rates Montana as sixth for Best Business Tax Climate.
Bullock has a rare gift for reaching across the aisle, but still isn’t afraid to push back on the Feds when he needs to. He isn’t just effective, he’s also popular – with the high approval and favorability ratings to back it up.
With all this in mind, it’s a bit silly to think that Montanans will suddenly decide our Governor is no longer competent. I’m not buying it, and neither I suspect is anyone else.
Still, it is no surprise that Republicans have spent the last two days tweeting suggestions that McLean’s departure indicates some great scandal, as is their typical MO, because of the fact that her departure was a surprise and that the Governor said he was as surprised as the rest of us. That’s hardly a smoking gun. Politics is usually much more boring than House of Cards. Some bloggers and tweeters I’ve seen have made the awful decision to print silly, tasteless, baseless rumors, with nothing behind them, rumors likely being purveyed by the GOP. Any such person claiming to be a supposed source of news should be permanently discredited, if they weren’t already. (And I posit that the “Big Sky Words” blog, which indeed I don’t include on the blogroll here because it’s author openly posts bigotry against people of the Jewish faith including, I kid you not, anti-semitic nonsense of the “Jewish banking conspiracy” variety among its “most popular posts“. [screenshots if this gets taken down – yes, there are more]) Readers here want bigotry to be called out, not promoted.
More to the point, let’s speculate as to whom Bullock will select as a replacement, something he says he’ll do in the next few weeks.
Ideas, anyone? I’ve heard Amanda Curtis, Linda McCulloch and Pam Bucy’s names are being bantered about the Helena rumor mill, and I’m interested to hear what others are hearing.