Category Archives: 2014 Elections

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

Loading ... Loading ...


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.

Nominating Convention Could Prove Tricky for Adams

The Democratic Special Nominating Convention is just two days away, and it’s likely Dirk Adams is worried.  The contest is down to two announced candidates–Adams and Butte lawmaker Amanda Curtis, since state Sen. Dave Wanzenried has withdrawn his name from consideration.  And Adams faces some heavy barriers to being chosen.

For one thing, Adams is definitely not going to want to talk about his support for Citizen’s United, since those voting Saturday have organized rallies and letters to the editor campaigns against the decision. Central committee leaders across the state collected signatures to pass the nation’s first ballot initiative against Citizens United. They’ve driven to Helena to testify in the legislature against election corruption and they’ve organized fundraisers across the state for candidates who championed democratic opposition to the Supreme Court decision that said corporations are people.

This isn’t going to be easy for Adams to evade. Adams is already on the record saying in the Bozeman Chronicle that he supports Citizen’s United, a sentiment he echoed on his campaign website. “I think the Citizens United case was properly decided based on the U.S. Constitution and legal precedent,” Adams wrote.

Adams will also be hoping to avoid discussing Saturday his role in the subprime mortgage crisis. As Politico reported, Dirk Adams was the director of bank that closed because of “questionable” activities. Adams was also executive vice president at Golden West Financial and World Savings. These were among the first banks to sell the risky home loans that led to the banking collapse and subsequent financial crisis, Politico reported.  As has already been pointed out, “that background makes Adams an odd fit for a party that’s loudly denounced the predatory ways of big banks.”

Finally, I think Adams will do everything he can to avoid talking about his delinquent taxes in Park County–especially since Charter Corporation’s delinquent taxes have been such a big issue in the media of late given their ballot initiative fiasco. Adams is hoping convention-goers don’t visit Park County’s website at and type in “adams dirk.”

If they did, they might find the information depicted in these screenshots (if you’re reading this from the email listserv, click the post title to see the pics.)

taxes main page

delinquent 1-1

delinquent 1-2 delinquent 2-2 delinquent 2.1



Wyoming Makes Racist Ted Nugent a Deputy Sheriff

Congratulations Wyoming, You’ve Reached a New Low

ted-nugent-faceby Cowgirl

When Ted Nugent spewed racial slurs and said that women who didn’t support hunting should be “fixed” or “replaced” by their husbands, he wasn’t put on the first bus out of Big Horn County, Wyoming–he was made a deputy sheriff.

As Media Matters reports, Nugent was in town for a “rally” of the Wyoming TEA Party, which was attended by several of the state’s statewide candidates including Sen. Mike Enzi and candidates for Congress, Secretary of State, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Casper-Star Tribune offered the embarrassing excuse that they were not able to ask Sen. Enzi whether he agreed with using racial slurs for Japanese Americans and that women who don’t like hunting should be neutered or divorced–because he left the event “before the tea party ended.” I guess we’re expected to believe that they didn’t know how to find any of Enzi’s statewide offices. (Although to be fair, perhaps the internet hasn’t yet arrived in the Equality State Wyoming.) There has also been no word on why none of the other candidates were asked if they agreed with this kind of thing.

At this point, we can no longer call Wyoming “the Equality State” without the heavy use of air quotes.  But perhaps in Montana we might adopt a new slogan:  “At least we’re not Wyoming.”  I hope our neighbors to the south will forgive us this.  We’re used to being at the bottom of the TEA Party imbecile pile.