Category Archives: Senate

Tester Gets Top Fundraising Post

It has been announced that Jon Tester has been named Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.  This means that he will be in charge of a major pot of national loot, money that is biennially doled out to democratic candidates for US Senate.  This assignment will serve Tester well especially if he has an interest in leadership or bigger or better committee assignments in the Senate down the road.

Whether it will serve him well at home is another question.  Indirectly it could certainly help Montana if it means that Tester get’s more influence within the Senate.  This could mean more bacon being brought home to Montana. But of course, the assignment allows the GOP to claim Tester is a “DC Insider.”  Fortunately by the time 2018 rolls around Tester probably won’t even still be holding the DSCC post any more, since it rotates every two years.

As for those who work in and around politics in Montana, based on some of the chatter today I feel I should point out that the big dough that Tester gets to raise will probably not find its way into the democratic party until the 2018 Senate race is afoot.  So I’m afraid there will be no immediate windfall for party workers.

The more interesting part of this news is the fact that Tester has been outspoken in his opposition to Big Money in politics, and is even sponsoring a Constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics, to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  He spoke about it at Harvard Law last week.   To reconcile these two endeavors–fighting against big money, while having to raise it like crazy–will require some nimble positioning to say the least.  It can be done, but it won’t be easy.

Overall, however, the Cowgirl blog endorses this move as a good one for Tester, and he gets best wishes on his new gig.

 

ANALYSIS: Curtis Puts Daines on Defense in U.S. Senate Debate

Today, it was made quite clear why Steve Daines has sought to desperately to avoid debating democrat Amanda Curtis in the U.S. Senate race. Tonight’s debate was Daines’ to lose.  And he did.

Daines’ strategy throughout the campaign (and indeed throughout his tenure as a member of Congress) has been to try to hide his true views, beliefs, and acts from Montana voters–all while voting as Montana’s most extreme-right member of Congress in state history.  But tonight, Amanda Curtis made sure the TEA Party congressman had to answer for some of his ideological oddities–and his actual voting record–and it was quite a treat to watch.

Daines looked visibly shaken several times after he tried to answer a question, only to have Curtis, a high school math teacher and popular state legislator, point out how his voting record contradicted his claims.  Daines has never had an opponent go toe to toe with him before, and he was clearly not comfortable being called out for his true views.

Take, for example, the statement Daines made in answer to Dennison’s question about how banning abortion served the people of Montana.  Daines tried to say he supports access to birth control, but Curtis pointed out that Daines actually voted to ban it.  In response, Daines awkwardly muttered something about how he hopes his daughter has access to birth control “some day.”  I guess he means some day after he is no longer in Congress.  It was a very strange moment in the debate.

Obviously the new GOP thing is for their candidates to try to hide their anti-birth control history and message – clearly they’ve realized they can’t win otherwise.  Daines tried to make us believe he supported birth control, but he couldn’t quite pull it off.

Even if he hadn’t flubbed the question tonight, women are figuring out that that Daines has made repeated attempts to take away our rights as women to make our own healthcare decisions, outlaw birth control, eliminate prevention efforts and authorize the IRS to audit rape victims. In the past, Daines has also tried to claim that he supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but of course what he does not mention is that he voted against funding the same domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs he touts.

Another golden moment in the debate came when Curtis pointed out that we need a better representative in the Senate than someone who throws tantrums with the whole government shutdown and ACA repeal idiocy. Surprisingly, Daines refused to say he wouldn’t vote to shutdown the government again – even after being asked the question twice.  Even after it was pointed out by Curtis that Daines refused to say he wouldn’t shut down the government again.

I was surprised that the TEA Party Congressman ran from his own anti-Affordable Care Act votes – claiming he hadn’t voted for 40 of the 50 some ACA repeal measures the U.S. house passed.   Daines said he only voted for repeal once.  Which is easily disproven. Daines himself has bragged about his repeal votes in his press releases and public statements, but I guess he forgot about that – or hopes we did. Curtis didn’t.

It’s interesting also to see how defensive Daines was on the GOP boondoggle conceived by TEA Party GOP vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder and TEA Party Rep. Kerry White – the public land grab scheme they passed unanimously at the GOP convention.    The GOP legislators’ proposal was so unpopular that it must have started to hurt their federal candidates in the polls, because now we see both Zinke and Daines running from an idea they both have publicly supported.

Perhaps it was Zinke and Daines who convinced the TEA party imbeciles in the Montana legislature to nix their own proposal to try to cauterize the wound they inflicted on their own party.

Amanda Curtis and John Lewis have both been successful in putting their opponents on defense simply by shining a light on what they really stand for.  And this strategy I suspect will continue to close the ever narrowing gap in the polls.

I’m interested to see what others who heard the debate think.  Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a good factcheck of the statements Daines made tonight online here.

Live Blog of the Curtis Daines Debate

5:57 pm I had thought that Twitter put live blogging out of business, but others say Twitter in Montana political circles is still a tiny niche audience and live blogging reaches more people – would be interested in what readers think.  You can follow the debate here for regular updates.

6:02 Audience asked not to clap, hiss or boo.  Amanda Curtis introduced first as a Butte High School math teacher and Montana legislator.

6:04 pm Debate moderators introduced: Mike Dennison of Lee Newspapers, Jackie Yamanaka of Yellowstone Public Radio, and TV reporter and political director for KXLH, Sanjay Talwani.

6:06 pm First question on ISIS – Curtis says we can’t be the world’s police and we must ask where the money will come from

Daines claims the president lacks strategy and needs approval of congress. Daines tries to say the response to ISIS is “secure our borders.”

Daines asked how we will pay for ISIS threat but avoids question with “secure the homeland” platitudes.

6:08 pm  Daines asked if he would shut down the government again. Tries to blame president Obama for government shut down. Says it “takes two” to shut down the government. Total cop-out. Tries to justify it by saying he didn’t take a salary during that time.

Curtis reminds audience that Daines voted for shutdown and is so out of touch he can afford to go without pay which is something most Montanans can’t do. Gets audible agreement from audience.

Daines asked again to answer the question of whether he would vote for the shut down again.  Curtis points out that Daines didn’t say he would not vote for a shutdown again.

 

6:14 pm Talwani question for Daines on repealing Affordable Care Act and replacing it with “tort reform”  Will this really help people get health insurance?

 

Daines says response to health care is “tax deductions” and tort reform to save money.  Also Health Savings Accounts – doesn’t mention these mean nothing without health coverage.  Daines also tries to say that ACA should be repealed because not everyone will have insurance coverage even though it passed.  Makes no sense.

 

6:19 pm Sanjay T. points out  in a question to Daines: if people can’t afford health insurance, can these people afford health savings accounts – will they benefit from tax cuts?

6:22 pm  Dennison asks Daines about his statement that abortion should be illegal in most cases.  His true position is that he opposes abortion in ALL cases, even when a woman is raped.

Curtis nails Daines for voting for a bill to ban most forms of birth control.

Daines is saying something weird about how the first amendment supposedly limits birth control. As Curtis points out, Daines is saying he supports Hobby Lobby decision to let corporations decide which women get birth control and which do not.  Well done Curtis.

6:28 pm Debate is half over – taking a 1 minute break.

6:30 pm – Odd Question from Jay Kohn about whether “one of us” means a dumber U.S. Senate.  Curtis points out that the founders did not intend corporations to run the U.S. Senate and Curtis says you don’t need to be a silver-spoon fed politician to be a good senator.

Follow up – asked if Curtis has the experience to be a good U.S. Senator.  Curtis says she has dedicated her life to education because it is the pathway out of poverty. Daines is saying something weird about his grandparent’s high school mascot….trying to relate to normal people I guess after Amanda’s comments about relating to working families.  Not really impressed by this pathetic response by Daines.

6:34 pm Daines called on carpet by Jay Kohn for touting a bill in one of his campaign ads that has never even passed – his so-called balanced budget act.  In my opinion, it is disingenuous to take credit for a bill that never passed.  As Jay said – “isn’t this just a symbolic bill with no teeth?”  Kohn calls the ad false.

Glad to see moderator holding Daines accountable.

6:36 pm Jackie Y. asks Daines about what his real concrete specific Medicare reform proposals are.  Daines is saying he supports “reforms” but is not saying what they are.  He again avoids the question.  It’s becoming a theme tonight (Daines avoiding answering.)

6:39 pm Daines claims the Affordable Care Act harms in-home health care for seniors, says he knows this anecdotally.  Curtis reminds audience that Daines has a 10% (abysmal) rating with seniors groups.

6:40 pm Dennison to Curtis – Why should I support you if I’m a gun owner?  Curtis points out she does not opposed guns and was just out shooting recently.  Daines goes all TEA Party liberty and freedom language on guns, says guns are not about hunting….

6:41 pm Curtis points out that Daines has lowest rating on conservation/public lands of any politician ever in MT – a 4%.

6:42 pm Talwani asks Daines why he refuses to compromise on public lands solution proposed by Tester that would result in logging and timber jobs – a solution that can actually pass.  Daines says Tester’s bill is “a good start.”  But he doesn’t say why he wouldn’t vote for it.

Curtis said she supports Forest Jobs and Recreation Act as a true compromise by Tester.  Says Daines didn’t support the Montana solution and instead is forcing a DC solution Montanans don’t back.

6:46 pm Jackie Y.:  What do you think should be done on immigration to protect public health?  Curtis supports doctors and agencies working to protect us from biological threats. Points out that Daines voted for shutdown, which harmed these agencies.

Daines repeats “secure the borders” pablum again.  Starts telling some anecdote he heard from a Texas house member. Says “secure the borders” a few more times.  Says the threat of ebola and national security is at stake.

Curtis says she supports immigration reform.

6:49 pm Dennison asks how Daines jobs rhetoric isn’t just warmed over trickle down economics.  Daines launches into his same talking points in response.  Seems to believe Keystone pipeline is some kind of magical talisman for the middle class.

6:52 pm And at this point, the live stream from KUFM’s website appears to be no longer functional. (Or Charter internet just stinks–always need to remember this possibility is probably the most likely.)

6:53 pm Last question about to be asked.  MSU-B poll says 20-25% still decided in the race.  Candidates asked to give their final pitches.

Curtis says people should be able to retire without worrying about where their groceries are from.  Says out public lands shouldn’t be sold off and that Medicare shouldn’t be a voucher system.  Daines thinks corporations are people and money is speech.  Intermittent cheering.

Daines says he “grew up a sportsman” and has an A plus rating for NRA. Says “Montanans vote their guns.” More jobs blah blah blah – I’m not Obama, basically.  (Curtis pointed out earlier that Obama isn’t on the ballot.)  Daines tries to say his background is different than most in congress.  Bwhahahahahha!  Right.  Basically keeps saying “I’m not Obama.”  Really embarrassing.

Curtis says choice is between Daines, most extreme Congressman Montana has ever had, and a woman like herself. Says she’ll help all sectors of economy, not just big corporations. Says as Montana’s first female senator she’ll vote for equal pay for equal work and FOR the minimum wage.  Loud cheering, louder and longer than for Daines.

Debate concludes.

 

 

GUEST POST: Preserve the Power of the Vote

by Jackie Gysler

While 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Montana women’s right to vote, few Montanans can compete with $10,000 to $425,000 campaign donations.

Only 28% of Ryan Zinke’s donations and 33% of Steve Daine’s donations come from Montanans compared to over 70% of John Lewis’s and Amanda Curtis’s funds. Zinke’s recent fundraiser cost $10,000/couple with John Boehner who leads the most unpopular U.S. Congress ever, with only a 10% approval rating. Steve Daines collected $425,000 from a Wall Street billionaire and vulture capitalists. Corporate fundraisers are the newest fad in Washington, D.C., thanks to fewer anti-corruption rules.

Your vote is extremely important!

In 2012, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices, many whom were nominated with a religious promise to strike down a woman’s right to vote on her own reproduction, struck down Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, diminishing the right to vote of all Americans.

As a result, in 2012, 75% of Montanans voted for a referendum directing Montana’s two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman to create a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to stop unlimited corporate money from buying elections. In September 2014, Republican U.S. Senators blocked this bill.

Can you afford to buy politicians?

Preserve the power of the vote! Get your community to vote for math teacher Amanda Curtis to be Montana’s first female US Senator, and instead of the most unpopular U.S. Congress ever, vote John Lewis starting October 6th at your county courthouse!

Let me know if you see this in newspapers or can help get it into your local newspaper.

Jackie Gysler
Bigfork/Wolf Point
jigysler (at) gmail.com

Steve Daines and the Environmental Boogeyman

Steve Daines is an embarrassment.

Steve Daines is an embarrassment. He’s bad for the state.

Steve Daines has a new radio ad on the air, in which Daines portrays himself as the protector of the timber industry, keeping timber mills and loggers safe from “fringe environmentalists” and “extreme environmental groups.”  A narrator also describes Daines as “ranked as one of the most effective congressmen” although she doesn’t cite any study or group that made this dubious determination.

 Listen to this idiotic advertisement, or read the transcript, here.

Daines has simply dusted off a twenty-year-old playbook for these ads:  Environmentalists are shutting down the state and costing us jobs, and we must fight against their lawsuits and the federal regulations that they have persuaded Obama to enact.  Montanans could all be rich from natural resource development if the environmentalists would simply get out of the way.

There’s one problem with the radio ad: In the sixty seconds of narration and sound bites from Daines, timber owners and loggers, nobody cites a single item, a single tangible thing, that environmentalists have recently done to effect the loss of jobs or the decline of the timber industry.  The script is simply Daines and his supporters talking about how he has “stood up” to “environmental radicals.”

Now, if the discussion were about coal or fossil fuels, Daines could at least claim credit for voting against, or opposing publicly, whatever is currently being advocated for in DC by the environmental community, such as EPA regulations, carbon limits, and so and and so forth.  Those are not radical ideas or proposals, but they at least are real.

Daines has instead decided to create a nebulous boogeyman, “the fringe environmentalists,” and claim himself as working hard to vanquish it insofar as it is trying to destroy the timber industry.

There is a reason that Daines can’t point to anything to substantiate his claim, not a single timber sale that has been blocked or federal law that has Obama has signed that have negatively affected the timber business: because there really aren’t any.  The cold fact is that the timber industry–in fact the entire wood products industry–in Montana has been devastated in recent years by one thing, and one thing only: the bursting of the housing bubble.  The market for the product crashed, and has not returned nearly to where it was.

But that doesn’t really matter now, because Daines has discovered, likely through polling and other market research, that if you tell persuadable voters that timber jobs have been lost due to the activities of “fringe environmentalists,” they are ignorant and misinformed enough to believe it.  Which is enough for Daines.  That’s Steve Daines’s brand of leadership.  Enjoy it.

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.

 

 

 

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.”

image

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.

 

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

http://www.parkcounty.org/parkwebtax/ 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

 

 

Montana Democrats, Your Presence Is Requested…

by Cowgirl

A rare, intimate variety of democracy will take its course Saturday morning at the county fairgrounds in Helena, Montana, when the Democratic Party chooses a nominee to replace John Walsh.

Nobody in Montana politics can recall anything quite like this event, so it should make for good theater. Oddly, the proceedings will be both less and more democratic than a normal primary. A small group of party officers from around the state–no more than 175 delegates and possibly as few as 50– will choose the nominee in a caucus. That’s a lot of power in a small group. However, the two most powerful figures in the party–the sitting Democratic senator and governor–don’t appear at this point to have expressed a preference. Which means that Saturday might be, for lack of a better term, a free-for-all. And that’s a good thing, and for bloggers especially.

A candidate that breaks through and excite voters is urgently required. The Governor vetoed 71 bills last session, each bill more idiotic than the next, but if we lose seats he might be unable to sustain his vetoes. Thus the Senate race is perhaps less important than the state legislature in my opinion. Please consult this list of what they’ve proposed in recent years. Greatest hits include House Bill 549, “A Bill To declare that Global Warming is Good for Montana.” This season they are proposing a law that will let sheriffs arrest anyone who tries to implement the Affordable Care Act. There is also a Tea Party-generated ballot measure this year to make voter registration more difficult. Democrats need a showing at the polls to kill it.

Three types of candidates could in theory present themselves on Saturday–big, medium and small. The “big” category, unfortunately, is an empty set. It consists only of two people who could immediately put Daines on the run–Bullock and Schweitzer–both very popular, but both of whom have said they won’t be running.

“Medium” includes politicians whose names many Montana voters are familiar with. But since every current statewide office-holder already sent their regrets (as has Nancy Keenan, former NARAL Pro-Choice America chief and former state superintendent of Montana schools), there’s only one medium sized candidate: John Bohlinger, the former Lt. Governor under Schweitzer. Bohlinger ran and lost to Walsh in the primary but he blames the loss on Harry Reid for having anointed Walsh and sent resources his way (Reid called Bohlinger earlier this year and tried to push him out of the race). There are many party activists who enjoy Bohlinger, but a few who must be persuaded that he no longer harbors any affiliation to Republican causes.

The remainder of the candidates have small followings even if they have big potential. They largely unknown to most Montana voters and include three state legislators–Dave Wanzenried (trucking company employee from Missoula) and Amanda Curtis (teacher from Butte)–as well as Dirk Adams (Wilsall), a former mortgage banker and now rancher who ran against Bohlinger and Walsh in the democratic Party but got only 15% to Bohlinger’s 25% and Walsh’s 60%.

Others have made oblique statements that fall short of committing to a candidacy, or have tried to get surrogates to tweet things like “I’m hearing that so and so is getting into the race.” But this does not count. If you want it, stand up and say so.