The What, How and Why of November 8th in Montana

It’s time to take a deeper look at the election results in Montana.

First, the obvious and very bright news.  The Governor’s race ended at about a 4 point margin for Bullock, with the governor receiving slightly over 50%, and so state government will largely remain in the hands of normal people, not ideologic loons.  Bullock earned a second term as a common sense leader who has stewarded a strong economy.  Gianforte was dragged down by his own past associations with extremist causes, controversies and ideas.  His message did not quite captivate, nor did his attacks seem to draw much blood because there really wasn’t much to attack Bullock on, so Gianforte faced a difficult task.  

The result itself was not surprising since the Cowgirl Polling Average had it between 6 and 7 and the last vestiges of undecided voters usually break toward the challenger in the final days.  

But we should thank Steve Bullock for delivering the win, for this time would be truly dark without his victory.  Comically, the GOP declared today that because they picked up a few legislative seats, that they will now demand concessions conservative agenda.  Well, it doesn’t work that way.  Bullock might be constrained by budgetary realities, but he has built up a massive surplus.  Bills are passed by a majority of lawmakers – not at the whim of the GOP hardliners in the tinfoil hats.

As for the State Auditor, Secretary of State and School Superintendent races, the results were not entirely surprising.   Matt Rosendale and Corey Stapleton had run a combined four times for statewide office and Elsie Arntzen is a long serving Billings-area state Senator which means her name is exposed to a large population center. Melissa Romano, a stellar candidate who did the best of any Dem in the tier B statewide races, I hope will be back.  But again, a tidal wave goes in only one direction and cannot be ducked under.  It was simply a bad year to run for state office.  It took close to seven million for Bullock to keep his distance from Gianforte. What chance did minor candidates with little name ID have in such a year?  

The Attorney General’s race was never competitive because Larry Jent was a very late entry with little support. Nor was the congressional race really up for grabs although Denise Juneau gave it her best.  That house seat is (maybe) winnable only under extreme conditions, meaning when it’s an open seat, when it’s a big Democratic year.  Look for Juneau to run for something else in the future, perhaps Governor.

One bright spot: Jill Stein did not receive sufficient votes to create an automatic ballot spot for the Green Party, meaning that the Libertarians will continue to spoil the fun for Republicans but no minor party will affect Democrats.  That’s important for Jon Tester in 2018.

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19 Comments on "The What, How and Why of November 8th in Montana"

  1. “there really wasn’t much to attack Bullock on”

    The Wisconsin firm marketing Montana contract thing is real enough. That sort of thing cannot happen again (and no, I dont mean out of state companies getting state contracts).

    • This is just one of those things people should be up on in these kinds of cases: There is no law on the books that allows the State of Montana to give preferences to Montana companies in the RFP process, something that Governor Bullock has tried to change by calling on the legislature to pass his Hire Montanans First Act that they have refused to take up [HB490, 2013; SB 205, 2015]. Just copied from the MTdems fact check – easier than rewriting.

      Put the blame where it should be – not try to make it SB’s out of laziness.

  2. Tester has already lost my support in the future with his *unforced error* on a common sense firearm registration no vote.

  3. Here’s the “why”.

    Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said President-elect Donald Trump won because “Democrats have focused too much with a liberal elite” while ignoring the working class.

    Sanders said, “How does it happen that they win elections and Democrats lose? I think what the conclusion is, is that that is raising incredible sums of money from wealthy people … but has ignored to a very significant degree, working class, middle class, and low income people in this country.”-Pam Key

  4. Also on the up side, Judge Sandefur defeated inexperienced “dark money” candidate Kristen Juras for a seat on the MT Supreme Court. We dodged the bullet on this one.

  5. Congrats to Mr. Bullock next year he’ll be one of only 17 Democratic governors.

    In the last 8 years you guys have lost 10.2% of Senate seats, 19.3% of House seats, 20.3% of their legislatures, 35.7% of their governorships.

    These are the lowest Democratic numbers since 1928.

    • Repug backlash to having a pigmented family in the White House! Racists are lucky that way, they have their own political party!

    • In 1928 the country voted an all run republican congress and presidency. by the end of 1929 the country was in the biggest Depression in the countries history that lasted ten years. Looks like we are heading that way again. Thank goodness they are repeating History?????

  6. I’m an independent–sometimes conservative and sometimes liberal, but neither extreme. I appreciate Big Swede’s comments and facts–I didn’t check, just assume they’re correct. They say something important, given that Hillary got a few more total votes than Trump. So, Bernie’s assessment may be about right. My knock on the two sides is that conservatives are too often into cliches and ‘don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up’ and on liberals it’s too much talk on broad issues and not enough action on basic issues that most dems and repubs have to deal with and worry about from day to day. On the positive, I think conservatives get day to day things done and I think liberals often have more facts and better reasons.

  7. We are also pretty much centrists having voted for both parties. Along with our kids we have a home in Montana but actually live in a mountain community in So. California. We appreciate the great diversity of people here. And of course Hillary won over 60% of the vote here over an historically deplorable, unfit Trump. Glad Bullock was reelected.

  8. DEMS, we need PRAGMATIC PROGRESSIVES, Brian SCHWEITZER for President, he got ‘rock-ribbed’ GOP Red Ranchers to vote for him, and no accident he – a rancher – and Tester – a farmer – did well in 2004-2008 time-frame, we need DEMS to appeal to what we used to have, FAMILY FARMERS, not just urban elites. If TRUMP – a vain and vulgar celebrity, scammer and mogul – can achieve the White House, why NOT Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and we need a WAVE of young candidates like we had in the SEVENTIES, after McGovern – a heroic WWII bomber pilot – was crushed electorally by Tricky Dick, and that ‘Dick’ had to leave, but we still ended up with a brief pause with Carter but then 12 years of Reagan/Bush, interrupted by Clinton and ‘back’ to Bush ‘lite’….Got to HAVE Rural folks realize they’ve been CONNED by the ultimate ‘rube’ and huckster, CITY SLICKER in a Gold Tower in NOO YAWK CITY, didn’t anybody ever watch ‘GREEN ACRES’ and Gabor, the foreign gal, like Melania? Have you ever seen T-rump in a pair of jeans, can you ever imagine him having dirty finger-nails – EVER?

  9. Put away safety pins, Flathead Memo has it RIGHT. Instead, GET out and get to county, city and public forums, Speak TRUTH to Power, file for office, do the things done by YOUNG progressive in the Seventies, and it’s the MESSAGE now, and with FB, social media and more (note how Trump USED social media cleverly and really didn’t spend a lot of HIS money, but used celebrity to get BILLIONS of earned media, so why don’t smart and clever PROGRESSIVE who manage business and property – even a guy like Tom Morello, Zuckerberg, they CAN run, hell, if someone as so vile, vain and vulgar as Trump, why not ANYBODY with heart and brain?!) then it can be done…..young folks can’t ignore seniors though, like parents and others across generational lines, ALL suffer as Corporations and their puppets ALWAYS play young against old, black against white, etc, and remember GANGS OF NEW YORK, and the takeaway there is that the RICH ‘can always hire one half of the poor to kill off the other half’, so AMERICA, do you want to live in the HUNGER GAMES?????????

    • Its a part of my “F”ing clothing now. with Trump picking Bannon as well, well let’s just say I am going strapped from now on as well.

  10. I don’t believe the lost of 2 state offices to lack of name recognition holds true. That is the state auditor and sec.of state. Monica Lindeen had name recognition. She was vice chair of Montana Democratic Party from 1997-2000 Montana House 1999-2006 ran for U.S.House 2006 and had been state auditor for last 8 years. Jesse Laslovich was in Montana House in 2000 Montana Senate 2004-2010 and Chief Legal Counsel to state auditor since 2010. I do give a break to Romano who I did not know and follow politics in this state very closely. She did start out slow but picked up later. I actually blame the Montana Democratic Party for these loses because they were to focused on governors race. I’m glad Bullock won but the state land board was lost to some far right wing republicans that just may sell off state lands which happened in this state in the 1950’s. It’s going to be lonesome for Bullock the next 4 years

  11. GOP candidate for Govenor, Greg Gianforte got 46% of the vote
    GOP candidate for Attorney General, Tim Fox got 68% of the vote.
    In general, Montanans tend to split 50/50 between people who vote Democrat or Republican
    It’s easy to see that GG was short the 3% of Libertarian voters who might have voted for him.
    But why the 22% gap between those voting for Gianforte and those voting for Fox?

  12. Lets not forget we have a real intelligence in our Supreme court, which Dirk will help with.

  13. I agree with many of the more energetic responses here-time for an 8 member SCOTUS I guess. I’ve called Tester and several other Senators who will take my messages and urged them all to Filibuster, Filibuster, Filibuster! And when we retake the Congress we must follow the Republicans lead and persecute GOP office-holders into distraction and prison-no more “let’s put the past behind us” !!! Prosecute war crimes and profiteering for frack sake. Dick Cheney was elected as a simple millionaire and left office a hundred-billionaire. If Trump tries letting his kids run his businesses and claim that’s a “blind trust” the next AG MUST PROSECUTE! Judging from the 60 Minutes commer, uh, I mean interview, it looks like that is the plan. I expect Donald and the GOP will set new records for hubris and entitlement over the next 4 years.

  14. Watch Jon Tester now. He doesn’t want to go back to being a failing farmer, he will start turning himself into ‘Max Jr.’ and sign onto the GOP agenda, while giving lip-service against it to the Dems. And in their Country Club meetings the Montana Dems will grumble, and take it.

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