Tag Archives: Brad Johnson

Few Surprises on Election Night

The votes are in and the favorites generally won their races last night.  Walsh, Lewis, Zinke, Daines.

Resources were mattered.  Zinke and Walsh had them, and it made the difference.  Matt Rosendale was a bit surprising given that he spent about even with Zinke, but in the end, in a crowded field full of aspiring lunatics, the moderate candidate will often win. Just ask Rick Hill or Mitt Romney.  That’s an important reality for the Tea Party to grapple with, which is that they have very primary insurgent victories for all the trouble they try to cause.  This year, oddly, it was centrists who tried to act like Tea Partiers–Rick Hill, for example–but even that didn’t work.

John Bohlinger put up a good fight but in the end, Walsh stayed the course and delivered a resounding victory, as one would expect a sitting Senator to do. Bohlinger was always facing a peculiar challenge of having to persuade voters that he is no longer a Republican, and that, plus a lack of funds or organization, probably weighed him down heavily.    Walsh will now have to amp it up.   Nate Silver is giving him only a fractional chance at winning the race.  I personally think Daines is beatable, because he is a member of Congress polling below 40%.

John Lewis gave away a surprising 40% to John Driscoll, but Lewis saved his money, kept his powder dry, and now has some good ammo to begin the shooting war with Ryan Zinke.  That will be an interesting affair.  Expect a swiftboating of Zinke, given his questionable use of funding and the strange ambiguity surrounding his military record, which even his fellow Seals are talking about.  Meanwhile, expect Zinke to try to hang Obamacare around Lewis’s neck, through the Baucus connection.  This is a campaign that will be won by the smarter, savvier operation, I believe.  Lewis is probably the Dem’s best chance in a decade to recapture this seat, although this is simply by virtue of the fact that he is a legitimate candidate. None of the nominees since 2002 has even raised real money or mounted a serious campaign.  That’s going to change now.  And remember the best thing that Democrats always have going for them: Republicans in Montana seem to be getting better and better at losing races they should win.  They are simply not good at modern political strategy.

Also, good news in Ravalli County: the two wing-nut county commissioners and a treasurer who have turned Ravalli into a statewide Tea Party farce, all incumbents, were sent packing in the GOP primary. The TEA Partier in the Bozeman County Commission race, Barb Blum, also lost in the primary contest for that open commission seat. In Lake County, TEA Partier Rory Horning failed to unseat incumbent county commissioner Bill Barron.  Bad news in Broadwater County, where a top two style non-partisan county commission election sent forward not just the popular Laura Obert but also TEA Party bigot Tim Ravndal,  who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays. Ravndal was kicked out of the Helena TEA Party and formed his own new conservative TEA Party. (If this were a Lee Newspapers blog, you’d be reading how these commission races show equal wins for TEA Partiers and main street Republicans.)

In the Public Service Commission race, Brad Johnson easily Derek Skees in the GOP primary.  He will now face Galen Hollenbaugh.  Skees is a Flathead County agitator whose base constituency is made up of skinheads and recently arrived bible-belt transplants.  These nuts once thought they had a glorious Tea Party future but it’s kind of crumbled now.  Skees has now been beaten by a guy who ran his last race for public office out of a rehab facility.

Urgent Emergency

Steve Daines and Ted Cruz at a TEA Party caucus press event.

Steve Daines and Ted Cruz at a TEA Party caucus press event.

As you all know, Montana Republicans are a nativist and xenophobic crew, who hurl “out-of-state” as a nasty insult and love to tout the number of generations back that their lineage has lived in Montana.  Many a pale chest is thumped mightily as if these men had a role in choosing the location of their births.

So we should assume that the GOP power brokers are currently holding an emergency meeting in a smoke-filled room somewhere, urgently trying to decide how to handle a shocking development within the party: Continue reading

News About Federal Races

 The news this week is that Corey Stapleton is jumping ship to the US House race after receiving word from Steve Daines, or a Daines team member, that Daines will be running for Senate.  Stapleton had declared his status as a Senate candidate earlier in the year.

Stapleton has raised an impressive amount of money so far, $230,000, but has squandered most of it.  The newspaper today reports that he only has $80,000 left, which he will transfer to his new campaign.  What he’s spent $150,000 on is anybody’s guess.

The better news is that there might be as many as a dozen GOP candidates in the primary for House, clawing at each other, accusing each other of of not being “conservative enough,” and generally tearing each other down to the point that none will have any money or credibility by the time one of them is nominated in June of 2014.  Such a scenario will reflect what happened to Rick Hill in 2012, who was left limp and broke after emerging from a bruising primary in which, ironically enough, Stapleton opened fire at him with negative campaign ads.

Stapleton his now citing his work with the Martz administration, in canceling a computer project, as an event in his professional life that qualifies him to be congressman.  Not exactly a big-picture type of theme for a candidacy.  His Wikipedia pages have also been interesting. 

But Stapleton will be strong in Billings, having run many campaigns there.  Sonju and Zinke and Scott Reichner will fight for the Flathead Valley vote, Champ Edmunds will fight for wherever he is from (near Area 51, perhaps), if anybody there even knows who he is or that he even exists.  Brad Johnson, who ran his last race for statewide office while housed in an alcohol rehab facility, says he, too, might be running for the house.

Jon Lewis, Max Baucus’s chief aide, is now the only candidate on the Dem side, and we will see whether his Max Baucus pedigree brings him money.

Stapleton, by the way, said  that he wants to be in Congress to stop Obamacare, prevent the raising of the debt ceiling, and effectuate other such obstructionism.  And, he said that he would like to be a congressman, especially on the Syria issue, because he would have access to the intelligence briefings from the Pentagon.  God help us all.

No word yet about John Walsh or John Bohlinger, and their plans to run for the U.S. Senate against the presumptive candidate Daines.


Johnson Defends Illegal Bonuses

The Billings Gazette has endorsed Linda McCulloch for Secretary of State this week.  The endorsement isn’t suprising.  McCulloch has done a great job in the office.

What is suprising is that Brad Johnson is still trying to defend his sullied record.

Johnson looted the SOS office by handing out giant bonuses to his political staff on his last day in office (also his first day in rehab for alcoholism), which is against the law.  Johnson appeared in the same Gazette story admitting that he accepted the finding that the bonuses were illegal “at face value.”

The Gazette writes:

But when McCulloch took office, she found that Johnson had promised about $58,000 in bonuses to nine of his appointed staff members who no longer worked for the office — bonuses that he directed to be paid after McCulloch took office. The bonuses were not paid after a state attorney advised her that payment would be illegal.

Johnson said in a recent interview that he did nothing wrong.


You can read the rest of the Gazette’s endorsement of McCulloch here.  The Gazette also endorsed Monica Lindeen and Pam Bucy this week.

Sign of the Times

It seems that Brad Johnson has not abandoned his campaign for secretary of state after all.  Well, not entirely anyway. A Brad Johnson yard sign appeared this week.

But there’s one small problem.

The sign reads “re-elect Johnson for Secretary of State.”  Johnson is not the secretary of state, Linda McCulloch is.

Montanans voted Johnson out of office four years ago after having had enough of his bad ideas.  Learning that he has battled alcoholism for many years, has had a few DUIs, and has been in and out of rehab recently didn’t help. (In 2008, he even campaigned from a rehab facility toward the end of the race). Notably, in the article reporting on his announcement for office, Johnson was unable to state a single reason why the current SOS, Linda McCulloch, should be replaced. So his candidacy is not very credible.

To be sure, Johnson may not be intentionally trying to deceive the voters.  Rather, it may just be that since he has failed to raise campaign funds, hosing the cobwebs off the signs from his failed 2008 campaign was all he could muster.  Not a good sign he’ll be holding elected office anytime soon.

Re-elect Brad Johnson

Chamber of Commerce, in Rare Move, Endorses Two Dems; Brad Johnson Releases TV Ad

Skees and Johnson lose out

The Chamber of Commerce, a rock solid Republican organization whose politics are about as far right as the NRA when it comes to endorsing candidates, has abandoned two GOP candidates seeking statewide office:  Derek Skees and Brad Johnson. The Chamber, instead, has endorsed their democratic opponents, Monica Lindeen and Linda McCulloch, the incumbent Auditor and Secretary of State, respectively.

As humiliating as this is for Skees an Johnson, it’s hardly surprising given that they’ve only raised a combined $10k combined for the entire election cycle. The Chamber does not like to make bets on sure losers.

The press release announcing the Chamber’s endorsements says that in the State Auditor’s race, Democratic incumbent Monica Lindeen was chosen over challenger Derek Skees because she had “more of a reasonable approach to the important duties of insurance and securities regulation.”  Skees is the leader of the faction of Republicans in Montana that is actually further right than the Tea Party, though I don’t know if that faction has a name.  This blog calls them nutjobs, wingnuts, etc.  Recall that Derek Skees is the Republican state legislator who proudly wore a Confederate flag emblazoned on his jacket during the Whitefish Memorial Day parade. During the legislative session, Skees failed to pass a single bill–in a session where his party had vast majorities of both houses.  His nutty proposals included shrinking number of Montana Supreme Court justices and creating and 11-member panel with the authority to nullify federal laws.

In the race for Secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Linda McCulloch because she has “a stellar record as a Land Board member.” Left unsaid was that challenger Brad Johnson, a former SOS who was beaten by McCulloch, has had problems sobering up recently (at least one visit to rehab), has had a few DUIs, and, in the article reporting on his announcement for office, was unable to state a single reason why the current SOS, Linda McCulloch, should be replaced.  Plus Johnson tried to hand out large salary bonuses to his buddies in the Secretary of State’s office on the last day of his term in 2008.

He also says that he currently works as a “consultant”, although it is unclear who, if anyone, is paying him for his consultations.

The realization by the Chamber that the GOP has such weak candidates in these races is good news for Democrats.  It is a strong indication that these candidates have been completely written off  by the GOP, and control of the land board will likely remain in the hands of the Dems even if we don’t “run the table” on all five statewide races.

Also, Johnson, with the $2,000 Johnson has raised for his campaign, was unable to afford A-list talent for a new campaign ad, so his campaign could only release this spot, today, which features the endorsement of a cat. “Vote for Old Johnson.”  Campaign insiders are saying this ad could be a game changer.  Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSWXqC7Dlhs

In the Money Game, It’s Bullock, 7 to 1

Lost amid the hoopla over the Citizens United news yesterday was a small item about the kind of fundraising that does, and should, matter:  Steve Bullock is sitting on a nest egg of campaign cash that is almost seven times greater than that of his opponent.   Bullock has $776,000 in the bank, while his feeble Republican challenger, Rick Hill, has only $118,000

It’s not surprising given that Hill has just emerged from a bruising primary, in which he was assailed by his opponents has having “too much baggage.” He was accused, specifically, of:

– having dodged the Vietnam draft

– having enriched himself with state contracts, from his stint as a congressman

– having cashed in on his wife’s influence when she worked in the Governor’s office

– having screwed up the state work comp system

– having been the victim of a ponzi scheme,

– having been an insurance executive, and

– having porked a cocktail waitress while he was married

That’s quite a resume.  Hill had to spend down his war chest to combat these attacks, while Bullock had no meaningful primary challenge at all.  This has left Hill at a massive disadvantage as we enter the upcoming general election season.  Mind you, this is not corporate money; these are the hard-earned, smaller contributions that candidate’s raise by themselves, in increments from $5 to $600.

Some big, unregulated, out-of-state money will no doubt make its way into this race, more easily now that our sacred campaign corruption laws have been struck down by the five ignoramuses who call themselves “conservative justices.”

But one wonders whether the national GOP, and other national groups with fat corporate wallets, might not simply walk away from the Montana governor’s race, viewing it as an impossible project to rehabilitate a weak and battered candidate who is nearly broke.  Outside groups with large war chests have fifty states in which to spend money.  They rarely waste their time on candidates who do not do a good job raising money of their own.  It’s usually a bad bet.

Democrats out-raised Republicans in all the statewide races. Pam Bucy has raised $162,000 and has $27k in the bank.  Fox has raised $109, 000 and has $22k in the bank.   In the state auditor’s race, Monica Lindeen has $64,000 in bank while TEA Party Republican Derek Skees had about $6,500. For Superintendent of Public Instruction, Juneau has $92,000 in the bank.  Republican Sandy Welch has $20,000. In the Secretary of State race Linda McCulloch has $49,000 on hand while Brad Johnson has $3k.
Democrat Ed Smith has $4,300 left in the bank in his re-election campaign for Clerk of the Supreme Court. He has no opponent, since GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood failed in his write-in campaign attempt to garner enough votes to appear on the ballot this fall.

A Look at the Primary Election Results

Congratulations are in order to Kim Gillan and Pam Bucy who have won their respective primaries for Congress and Attorney General.

But that’s not the only good news.

Republicans have nominated Brad Johnson for Secretary of State. Johnson has battled alcoholism for many years, has had a few DUIs, and has been in and out of rehab recently (in 2008, he even campaigned from a rehab facility toward the end of the SOS race last time). Notably, in the article reporting on his announcement for office, he was unable to state a single reason why the current SOS, Linda McCulloch, should be replaced. Not a good start. He also says that he currently works as a “consultant”, although it is unclear who, if anyone, is paying him for his consultations. The nomination of such a weak candidate is good news for Democrats and for all those who don’t believe in the voter suppression tactics frequently championed by Republicans.

In the legislative races, congratulations to Helena’s Jenny Eck, who defeated two primary opponents for the open seat left when Mike Menahan decided not to run.  Here are a few other interesting legislative results:

Incumbents Taken Out

Incumbents are difficult to defeat and are rarely taken out.  It’s a lot easier when that incumbent becomes a laughing stock on national television. DUI promoter Alan Hale was taken out by primary opponent Kirk Wagoner 863 to 813.  Birther Bob Wagner was defeated by Ray Shaw in Madison County 1040-991.

Crackpots Advance

In Park City, nutjob TEA Party hatemonger David Howard somehow surpassed his two primary challengers by a wide margin.

In Sanders County, TEA Partier Jennifer Fielder (here’s her flyer) defeated the saner Rick Seeman. Feilder seems to have focused her campaign on the fact that her opposent was at one time employed by the government.   GOPers have also nominated the legislature’s largest recipient of government funds, TEA Partier Janna Taylor, over Republican Carmine Mowbray for Senate District 6.

More Good News for Democrats

Brad Johnson isn’t the only good news for Dems.   In the Laurel House races, supernatural scholar Sarah Laszloffy defeated main streat Republican Debra Bonogofsky, giving an edge to Democratic candidate Sean Whiting for that seat.

Corporate Money Wins

A secret list of corporations succeeded in electing State Senate TEA Party candidate Dee Brown over Republican Bill Beck in the Flathead. The corporations behind the so-called American Traditions Partnership are fighting Montana’s clean election laws in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is defending Montana against ATP in that case.  Meanwhile, another corporate front group with secret donors has purchased the Montana Supreme Court race for $41,000.  TEA Party Republican Jason Priest’s shadow group succeeded in advancing right-winger Laurie McKinnon over Elizabeth Best.

I’m interesting in hearing your thoughts on the primaries and your takes on other races I didn’t get to here.  Please consider this a primary election open forum.

The Assman Raiseth

Steve Bullock blew Rick Hill out of the water this fundraising period, raising almost twice what Hill raised, the Billings Gazette reports this week.  That doesn’t surprise me, because Hill has baggage and GOP activists and donors have steadily been learning about it.

But the juicy part about the just-released fundraising numbers is that Hill got beat by Jeff Essmann, aka the Assman, a moniker that refers both to his physical situation and also the smell of his foul legislation, which resembles ass.

Perhaps Essmann’s impressive money victory means that the rumors about Dennis Rehberg supporting Essmann are true.

At any rate, Bullock raised double what Essmann and Hill were able to bring in ($171k as opposed to $85 and $82k, respectively) leaving the entire GOP field in his dust. Neil Livingstone is once again bankrupt, and the other dwarves have no money either.

In other fundraising news, Pam Bucy and Jesse Laslovich are neck and neck in the money game.

Denise Juneau meanwhile had a very strong quarter and is inviting little in the way of a serious challenge.  In the Secretary of State race, Brad Johnson, who is trying to reclaim his lost seat, raised around $4,000 and spent $2,000 (on whiskey, perhaps), and Scott Aspenlieder did better than Johnson but he too fell short of matching what Linda McCulloch raised.  Derek Skees came in at a sad $2,000.

“Knee-Walking Drunk” Endorses Open Container Guy

Bitterroot state senator Jim Shockley’s citation earlier this year for drinking canned red beer while driving inspired the Republican to step down from his position. (He chaired the legislative committee drafting tougher DUI laws.)  But, it didn’t stop him from accepting the endorsement of former Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), whose infamous “I’m ready to go get knee-walking drunk!” foot-in-mouth syndrome led to his Senate demise.

Shockley announced the endorsement on his campaign website.

Perhaps this will become a kind of theme,  a stream of endorsements by drinking advocates.   Maybe those involved in the infamous and tragic Shane Hedges DUI accident and death of the House Majority Leader (in which Judy Martz barely escaped a prosecution for evidence tampering) will chime in. Rs have kept a steady pace since then so there are lots of endorsement opportunities for the campaign.

A review:

Of course, there is Alan Hale, Shockley’s colleague in the state house who is campaigning in favor of drinking and driving.

Brad Johnson, the former Secretary of State, got pulled over for a DUI and went subsequently to treatment, though it didn’t seem to faze him: from a rehab center, he actively continued campaigning in his PSC race and is now running again for Secretary of State, a position voters ousted him from in 2008.

Greg Barkus got a few DUIs on the road over the last decade; Scott Boggio, a GOP legislator from Red Lodge, ran up on a curb while driving around with another repub, Elsie Arntzen, and got pulled over, and turned out to be massively drunk, though of course Arntzen, a DUI Task Force member, expressed the usual right-wing-passenger-shock, and said she “had no idea” driver Boggio was impaired.

And of course then Barkus went for the hat-trick, a third DUI, this time in style by running a boat up into the rocky shore of Flathead Lake, causing injuries all around, with passenger Rehberg, drunk himself, taking a page out of Arntzen’s script and saying he was shocked to hear that the driver was impaired.

Then there was recently Brad Molnar, who mowed his car into that of some hapless girl just last year, and fled the scene and was placed under a restraining order from any contact with the victim.

Drinking, Driving, Boating, Hit and Runs. What is most important is that Republicans will often fight publicly for stiffer sentencing for criminals, and against the evil smoking of marijuana, and in favor of “values”.