Category Archives: 2014 Elections

Zinke Tries Taking Credit for Bin Laden Raid

The Bozeman Chronicle is reporting that Ryan Zinke recently sent out a fundraising email in which he implied that he was partially responsible for the Bin Laden mission’s success. That’s probably not the smartest move for a campaign that is already mired in gaffes and missteps.

Zinke was once involved in the Navy Seals but it was a decade or more before the Bin Laden raid.  Zinke served as a Navy Seal in Gulf War 1, in the early 1990s. The problem for Zinke, aside from the fact that he had nothing to do with the Bin Laden raid, is that he once attacked President Obama for “politicizing the Bin Laden raid by trying take credit for it.”  So this latest stunt might haunt him for the next two months.

It gets better. The Chronicle also reports that an earlier fundraising email from Zinke warned that a “leftist infiltration is going to take over the country because of the apathy of patriots.”  That is some hard core stuff.  What’s strange is that Zinke ran as a moderate in the primary and is now apparently running as a right winger in the general.  An unusual strategy to say the least.

Finally, it was also reported in the same article that Zinke was in 2012 formally warned by the Navy about using official military logos for political purposes, but that Zinke has ignored the warning and has put a giant Navy Seal emblem on the outside of his campaign bus.

The emblem is actually perfect for a Montana Republican, as it features an eagle holding both a gun and a pitchfork.



Daines Has Trouble Garnering Enthusiasm

If the latest unscientific Bozeman Chronicle online poll is indeed an accurate predictor of the US Senate race in Montana, then we should expect Amanda Curtis to defeat Steve Daines this November by a comfortable margin. When I checked early yesterday, she had over 2,000 votes and Daines had only a few hundred.

curtis poll

That’s the difference between Democrats and Republican grassroots.  GOP “young guns” are apparently no match for tech savvy progressives, who quickly voted in large numbers for Curtis.  It has tightened today, but she is still beating him by a 1,000 votes.  By percentage, the current standings are:

Daines         R     35%   (1,488)
Curtis           D    58%   (2,413)
Roots            L      3%     (142)
Undecided            2%      (94)

See live results here.




Billings Gazette Makes a Surprise Endorsement

Over the weekend I mentioned how glaringly deficient the Zinke campaign is when it comes to basic campaign strategy, such as dealing with the press, dealing with negative issues, sparring with the Lewis campaign through the daily news cycle, and so on.

Today, it got much worse for Zinke. The Billings Gazette–which announced last year that it would no longer be endorsing candidates for office–effectively endorsed John Lewis via a negative editorial about Zinke.

It’s as bad an editorial as a candidate will ever get, accusing him of essentially being a dishonest person with no political courage at all. It’s about as bad as the editorials that were written about Walsh after his plagiarism was revealed.

A nasty, nasty opinion piece by entire editorial board of the largest paper in Montana. It’s not easy to garner such hatred, especially when one is a Republican.

Here it is.


Former Congressman Thinks Math Teacher Not Fancy Enough to Run for US Senate

Former GOP Congressman and failed gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill has taken to the internet to attack a Butte math teacher who is running for U.S. Senate. Hill wrote on his Facebook page that state Rep. Amanda Curtis has a “course [sic] nature.”


Presumably Hill is referring to Curtis’s popular down-to-earth and heartfelt YouTube videos. She made these every day during the 2013 legislative session for her constituents, something Rick Hill would never have stooped to do.

Congressman Hill, during his tenure in the nation’s capital, was known for being something of a diva. Hill was rated by George magazine as the “second most-difficult boss” in all of congress. [Source: The Associated Press, “Magazine Finds Hill Second Most Difficult Boss in Congress,” June 19, 1999.]

To earn this dubious distinction, George noted that the Congressman:

–“angrily hurled a letter opener at an aide”

–Shouted: “I DON’T EAT DELI!!” to a staffer who brought him the wrong sandwich

–“fills some afternoons playing Free Cell, a computer game”’

And Hill went through three chiefs of staff, three legislative directors and three schedulers in two years.

There’s no sign his diva mentality has let up since. He appears to have insisted that his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign pay for a new car for him to cross the state in luxury.

As a math teacher, Amanda certainly doesn’t spend several months a year golfing at private clubs in California and Arizona (as Hill does), and she likely has enjoyed the occasional deli sandwich without turning up her nose or throwing a fit.  If that makes her “coarse” then so are most of the rest of us.  As a state legislator, she speaks directly to her constituents in YouTube videos for everybody instead of only to a select few at fancy dinners paid for by corporate lobbyists. She understands the key pocketbook concerns of most Montanans and presents a striking contrast to most members of congress. I think most people would call that a good thing.


Zinke Has a Media Problem

zinkeputin (1)by Cowgirl

I’ve noticed over the last few months that Ryan Zinke appears to be getting many bad headlines, indicating that he is perhaps a poor tactician whose campaign is not very good at dealing with the press and may also have rubbed the press the wrong way.


House Candidates Won’t Debate in Billings after Zinke Backs Out is the most recent headline in the Billings Gazette.  This article reports that Zinke was was scheduled to debate John Lewis but then decided to cut and run.  Worse, his spokesperson tried claiming in the Gazette article that it was in fact Lewis who pulled out of the debate, but when pressed by the reporter, isn’t able to substantiate the claim.


A recent Bozeman chronicle headline declared that Zinke Getting Most of His Money From Out-of-State.  Before that it was Zinke Denies SuperPAC Coordination and Why Does Zinke Have Campaign Signs in California? and Zinke has received $116,000 from Employees of Florida Insurance Company Execs.  These are news headlines, mind you, not editorial headlines.  They are positively awful, and we have seen them over and over.  And they are headlines that are appearing in what are essentiallly Republican run newspapers, such as the Missoulian, Helena IR and Billings Gazette. I have rarely seen such a string of bad stories.  But the press, for whatever reason, seems to really dislike this guy.


Why do they dislike him so?  Is it because Zinke was so brazen about breaking federal law with his PAC activity, a PAC he controlled up until two weeks before he announced his campaign, after which the PAC immediately spent money “independently” on his behalf?  Or is his the fact that he has hewn to a tired, Tea Party, cookie cutter “Obama is destroying America” type of campaign, which the press probably finds tiresome and empty?  Or is that his “national energy plan” calls for nothing except status quo, staying the course with oil and coal? Or that he has redacted and refuses to release to the press certain key parts of his military record?


This is all good news for John Lewis, as is the fact that the Zinke campaign is currently out of cash.

Republican Commissioner Wants Public Records Kept Secret

Republican County Commissioner Susan Good Geise

Republican County Commissioner Susan Good Geise

A Lewis and Clark County Commissioner is fighting to keep Helena residents from learning which businesses have submitted public comments in opposition to making Helena more walkable and bikeable, and which businesses support the transportation upgrade.

In a meeting in Helena this week on local transportation improvements, Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Susan Good Geise demanded that comments from businesses who are fighting against the walking and biking options be withheld from the public. These businesses have filed public comments to protest a special assessment district to fund transportation improvements.

Helena City Commissioner Katherine Haque-Hausrath says the public has a right to know how these businesses are seeking to influence public policies. Montana has very clear, strict public records rules enshrined in the Montana constitution. Nearly every government document is public in the state. It’s never a good sign when those seeking to carve out special protections for themselves seem to believe that their positions couldn’t possibly survive public scrutiny.

Ms. Good-Geise expresses support on her own webpage for finding out what businesses stand for and brag about using her shopping dollars to support businesses who agree with her.  So it is hypocritical of her to attempt to refuse others the same option because their positions might differ from her own.

Susan Good-Geise was not elected by local voters, but rather was appointed to the Lewis and Clark County Commission by the local Republican Party after GOPer Derek Brown quit partway through his term.   She must now face the popular Dennis Small who is the democratic candidate for Lewis and Clark County Commissioner in the November elections. 

So what do you think readers?  Do we have a right to know which businesses support safe walking and biking for children, the elderly, people with disabilities, the working poor without cars, and everyone else, and which do not?  

Do local residents have a right to know which businesses support and oppose making Helena more walkable and bikeable?

View Results

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Flathead Memo Endorses Amanda Curtis

As James Conner writes:

Amanda Curtis represents the future. Moreover, she represents the long overdue and mighty welcome resurgence of organized labor in Montana’s Democratic Party. Insofar as I can determine, she’s neither a Wall Street Democrat like Hillary Clinton, nor an acolyte of Robert Rubin or Tim Geithner. I think she’s best described as a modern lunch-bucket Democrat who isn’t afraid of the company goons and the Washington, D.C., political consultants. She’ll fight for the 99 percent — and that’s more than good enough for me.