Tagged: Denise Juneau

Posted: March 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Big Weekend in Montana Politics: Dem Dinner, and Bohlinger, Driscoll, Turiano, Arntzen enter race

It’s a big weekend for Democrats in more ways than one.  Tonight is the Mansfield Metcalf Dinner, the annual soiree at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds at which people drink, eat, and cheer on their favorite democratic politicians.

Make sure to look for me with my spurs and my chaps, and my donkey pin.

Tonight’s guest speaker is Cecile Richards, who is the head of Planned Parenthood of America. This is a good choice as it shows the that Democrats are becoming more comfortable in recognizing how important their stance on medical privacy really is.  And her appearance could not be more timely, coming on the heels of a horrible incident of vandalism of an abortion clinic in Montana.

Others on the list include John Walsh, our new senator, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. And don’t forget the popular Ed Smith, the clerk of the Supreme Court, as well as state House and Senate Leaders Jon Sesso and Chuck Hunter. Bring your money but don’t drink too much, especially if you are giving a speech. Hopefully, we can at least be assured there will be no poetry.

Even bigger news occurred Friday, when a number of politicians entered some of the top races. John Bohlinger officially entered the race against Senator Walsh. John Driscoll, the nominee for U.S. House in 2008, filed to run in the Democratic House primary against John Lewis. And Drew Turiano, a white supremacist, has filed to run in the House Race as well (the GOP always tries to have at least one white supremacist on the ballot). And Elsie Arntzen made her candidacy official, too. She presents a stark contrast to the other candidates in this crowded primary (and most other GOP primaries), and was immediately endorsed by Rick Hill.

The Bohlinger deal is interesting since he had given indications, around the time Walsh was appointed Senator, that he would bow out. But now he’s in it for certain. The 77-year-old Republican turned Democrat is a former Lt. Governor, former clothing merchant from Billings and former Marine boxer, and is well known among voters and has a freewheeling style and says what’s on his mind, contrasting to the more measured Walsh. Bohlinger has not raised much money and Walsh has raised a good clip (half a million or more), but that stuff matters only when the money is spent. We shall see how and when (or if) the Walsh campaign chooses to spend some of its war chest in the primary against Bohlinger. Bohlinger, meanwhile, is trying to fashion himself as a progressive, outsider alternative to Walsh. He says Walsh was anointed by Harry Reid and others in Washington.

By the way, word on the street is that Bohlinger has been denied a speaking spot on the program tonight. That would be okay, I suppose, if the rule were that only incumbents or unopposed candidates got to speak. But that’s not the case. We will see if Bohlinger causes a fuss (or even attends). We might even be lucky enough to hear from his and outspoken political advisor on the subject. I can’t wait. Dirk Adams, by the way, is also not listed on the program.

Nor is Driscoll, the new House candidate. But that is definitely a good thing because he is the Democratic equivalent of a Tea Party imbecile (if such a thing could even be said to exist). He has said that he plans to run for office without raising any money. We’ll see how that works out for him. Driscoll also claims the odd distinction of being the only Democrat in Montana history (so far as I can tell) to win a nomination and then immediately endorse his Republican opponent.  As the Democrat nominee in 2010 he endorsed Rehberg. That’s reason enough not to listen to anything he has to say and to let your Democratic friends know that Driscoll is simply a fraud.

You can buy a ticket at the door, and don’t miss it: 6-9 P.M.  Eat, drink and be merry, and cheer on (and donate to) our candidates. And if at any time during the festivities it gets slow or boring, just remind yourself what the Republican dinner must be like.

Posted: December 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

Baucus to China

The big news today is that Max Baucus is Obama’s choice for ambassador to China.

On the one hand it’s surprising, because Max has shown signs of slowing down in recent years Continue reading

Posted: July 16, 2013 at 11:04 pm

2014 Field Shaping Up

Now that Schweitzer will be on the homestead and not the hustings, what will the field of candidates look like in 2014, for either Senate or House, assuming Steve Daines runs for Senate?  Anyone looking for a ticket to DC needs to get in the the game soon, to start raising money and organizing.

There are many names being floated on the Dem side.  Many have statewide name recognition.  Denise Juneau is in the second term of her stint as the popular state schools chief in Montana.   If Juneau were the nominee, she’d be the first native American nominee for federal office since Bill Yellowtail in the 1990s (unless you count Schweitzer, who was adopted by at least one tribe, but I don’t think that counts).

John Bohlinger, Schweitzer’s Lt. Governor, is quoted today in the Billings Gazette as saying that he, too, might be interested in filling the vacancy left by his old boss.  Though he is sprightly for 77, Bohlinger could nevertheless campaign with great authority on issues such as Medicare and Social Security.   He could also, in theory, run as either an Independent, Dem or Republican, which makes for great blogging.

There is Franke Wilmer, a state legislator from Bozeman who ran for Congress in 2012.  She is a professor of political science at MSU, and very active in politics and knowledgeable on public policy.   John Lewis, Max Baucus’s senior aide, has also been mentioned.  Would his boss hand over to Lewis a piece of his giant campaign-cash nest-egg to help his right hand man?  Stephanie Schriock, who is the president of Emily’s list and a Butte native, has been mentioned.  Schriock could raise significant money, making her a very strong horse, perhaps as good as any we have–even despite the fact that she’s been gone from Montana while, and lives in the one place that you don’t want to live when you are considering running for office in Montana–Washington, DC.    Stephanie knows campaigning and fundraising, the two things usually missing when candidates make weak showings. Kim Gillan, a former state Senator from Billings, has valuable experience running against Daines in 2012.

There’s been talk of John Walsh, the current Lt. Governor and former national guard commander.  Walsh would make an interesting candidate.  Democrats with military backgrounds always present problem for Republicans, who like to warmonger but don’t like to serve, or who like to complain about deficits but also like to create wars while cutting taxes.  It’s hard to imagine why Walsh, who as LG makes a good salary and gets to work with Steve Bullock would want to do the DC thing. Walsh told Chuck Johnson that he hadn’t really thought about it at all, but did not deny interest.

Lee Newspapers is reporting that Amanda Curtis, a tough, smart young legislator from Butte, America, is taking a look at the house seat. Her name has also come up for the senate.   Curtis took transparency and making the legislature work for people to a new level –she made daily youtube videos during her first legislative session this winter, and they were phenomenal. She is a natural–a Wendy Davis type in MT– and we will hear more from her.

Kendall Van Dyk, unfortunately, has said he will not run for statewide office in 2014.  Given his record of winning tough races (he ousted Roy Brown from his senate seat in Billings), that’s a loss for us.  Monica Lindeen, the state auditor, likewise said this week that she does not want to go to DC.

On the GOP side, we have Ryan Zinke and Jon Sonju and Corey Stapleton.  Zinke’s career looked bright for a while, but it took a slight hit after he chose to run on the ticket with Neil Livingstone, whose gubernatorial campaign did not go so well (he was revealed to have authored a manual for business travelers about how to pick up hookers).   But Zinke has a powerhouse resume because he is not only a navy seal but was actually a member of Seal Team Six, in the decade before that outfit went in to get Bin Laden.  And he is rumored to have “shot many Arabs” during the Gulf War, a fact that will no doubt appeal to conservative voters in Montana.

Jon Sonju was Rick Hill’s running mate, so in theory, he has the same credential to run for Congress as Steve Daines did. Daines had been Roy Brown’s running mate in 2008.  Actually, Sonju got significantly more votes in 2012 than Daines did in ‘08.   The Sonju name is big in the Flathead Valley, where Sonju Industries, the family business, has long had a major presence.

Stapleton, who stepped up and took hard shots at Rick Hill during the gubernatorial primary but then came up short on election day, is a former naval officer and raised a decent amount of money in his race for Governor but lacked Hill’s name recognition.  This would be his third run for statewide office.  He ran for auditor once, too.

Speaking of Rick Hill, he too might run, I’m hearing his name from a few sources.  He would have to overcome the bad taste that he left in voters’ mouths when he took an illegal campaign contribution of $500,000, only to be ordered by the court to give it back.  That case is still being litigated, not a good thing for an aspiring US Senate candidate.  Court is not a good place to campaign from.  The only place worse is rehab.

Then, a trio rounding out the field of possibles, we have GOP legislators Scott Reichner of Big Fork, and Champ Edmunds of Missoula, and……drumroll please…..Krayton Kerns, the chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee and the biggest wingnut this side of the Mississippi.  Kerns has written that our society will soon collapse, because of the Obama presidency, and that we will all soon be without power, food or fuel and will have to take to the woods to survive.

 

Posted: July 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Schweitzer Takes a Pass on Senate

Brian Schweitzer surprised the state of Montana today when he announced that he would not be running for Senate.  It’s surprising because he was such a heavy favorite.  But it’s unsurprising too, because he has long maligned the US Senate as a do-nothing institution that he wants no part of. Others, too, have observed that the Senate is not a good fit for him.

And so thus concludes, for now, a tremendous political career in Montana, in which Schweitzer moved mounds of earth, changing the political landscape.  He showed conclusively that a Democrat, and not a Republican, can be trusted to get things done.  The record is well known–record budget surpluses, renewable energy development, economic development, protection of public lands, and all the things that the GOP whined about for two decades but never solved.   And, we will miss Schweitzer’s no-bullshit gamesmanship in which he engaged with his opponents and reduced them, usually, to rubble.  I’ve never witnessed a politician who so relishes mixing it up with his opponents. It made for some of the best political theater the state has ever seen. I would imagine that the members of the Montana press, with maybe a few exceptions, are not very happy about the news.  

Also, Schweitzer helped turn the state Republicans into a joke. The Democrats have never been stronger. That’s saying something, especially when you consider that in 2004 the GOP was amid a 23 year imperial rule, and that Montana is very red.

Steve Daines will now run for the Senate. Expect an announcement soon. Whether he will attract serious opposition is an important question.  But he will vacate a House seat, and so we should expect many candidates from both parties to run for that seat, rather than against Daines for Senate.   The GOP House primary should be entertaining.  Look for the usual suspects, like Stapleton, Sonju, Hill, Zinke, Livingstone, Edmunds, Reichner, and probably many more.   On the Democratic side, it could be Juneau, Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List, Lindeen, McCulloch, Wilmer, and so on.

And on it goes.

 

Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Baucus to Leave Senate; Will Schweitzer Step Up?

by Cowgirl

So Max has answered the question about his future. News broke this morning that he willl not run for relection, and will instead retire at the end of ’14 to his new home in Bozeman.  We wish Max well in his retirement. So ends 40 years of elections and office holding, which began in the 1970s when he literally walked across the western half of the state to campaign for his first job as a house member.  He is probably looking forward to a rest now.

So now the question is, will he or won’t he? Continue reading

Posted: December 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

Sandy Welch, and the Ruse

The GOP is asking for a recount in the state superintendent’s race, for what appears to be part of a high-intensity push to create a climate for passing voter suppression laws in Montana.

The Associated Press reported this week that the national Republican Party gave Sandy Welch (who ran against popular dem Denise Juneau) $100,000 to pay for the recount and another $100,000 to hire GOP lawyer behind Citizens United, James Bopp to sue for a recount (one she can’t win).

Bopp is an infamous national GOP lawyer who has been called “Public enemy No. 1 for fair elections,” and has worked for dozens of extreme-right groups.  He appeared on the recent Frontline expose of dark money groups in Montana, saying he is working to eliminate or significantly loosen campaign spending limits and to eliminate donor-name-reporting requirements.

Here’s what’s odd: Welch can get a recount without her costly lawsuit, for a $100,000.  She is allowed by law to buy a recount, in essence.   But she admitted yesterday that she’s now invested $200,000, half on the fancy lawyer and lawsuit, and half on the recount cost.   In the lawsuit, she is asking to get her recount cost refunded if she wins. But that still leaves a grand total investment of $100,000.  So why the lawsuit?

Because the GOP wants it in the air, while they try to pass new laws that restrict voting rights, like same day registration, early voting, mail voting, etc

The GOP’s future, given the trends, is looking bleak.  Not just a more liberal electorate, but a wild gang of libertarian voters defecting at a rate of anywhere from 4 to 7 percent in statewide elections.   The Rs are now seeing that they must find a way to balance the scale.  So they will try to minimize votes from elderly, Indians, poor, young and other voting blocks.

To do that, they’ll need to convince the legislature that there were “irregularities.”  Part of this will involve deceiving the press and the public that the last election was fraught with problems and “fraud.” Hence the $100,000 lawyer.

As the Billings Gazette reports, Welch already alleges

numerous examples of alleged vote-counting errors across the state on Nov. 6, including ballots jamming in electronic counting machines, re-marking of ballots that were run through the machines multiple times, failure to give voters new ballots to replace spoiled ballots, and ballots that weren’t officially stamped.

The recount will allow the GOP to paw through every single ballot cast, to find examples of what they’ll call “fraud.”

Perhaps the Montana GOP is taking a cue from Florida Republicans, who admitted last week that the voting restrictions they passed after the 2008 elections were specifically designed to keep Democratic turnout low:

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal[....]

Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

[...]A GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said black voters were a concern. “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said.

 

Posted: November 16, 2012 at 6:58 am

Recount Charade

The Billings Gazette is reporting today that Montana GOP will put up $115,000 dollars to recount a race it has no chance of winning.

Word on the street is that the recount is a ruse to allow the GOP to continue to “investigate” the supposed problem of too many people voting in Yellowstone County.   Voter suppression will be a first order of business for the new legislature. So, the GOP will use the recount as an occasion to rant in the press about how too many people voting caused long lines and delays in vote counts in certain major cities–to argue that liberalized voting rules have caused the problem.

GOP-er Sandy Welch is down over 2,000 votes, so Sandy Welch’s chances of overturning Denise Juneau’s victory are zero to none. To my knowledge, a recount has never overturned the results of a statewide race–even when the results were much closer than the Juneau/Welch contest.

The last time a statewide races was recounted was the 2000 democratic secretary of state primary.  Linda McCulloch.  As the Missoulian reported:

McCulloch nipped fellow challenger Gail Gray, 31,634 to 31,573 in the statewide recount. Although Gray picked up 65 misplaced votes in the recount, McCulloch gained 62. McCulloch’s final tally was 61 votes ahead of Gray, down from 64 votes in the original count. The third Democratic contestant, Mike Schwinden, saw his total rise 26 votes to 28,765.

The most recent recount before this was in 1980.

It involved Initiative 84, a measure to control disposal of uranium ore tailings. The original count showed 172,796 in favor to 172,173 against. The recount put the total at 172,909 to 172,493, preserving the initiative’s passage.
 And so, you can see that a recount will not overturn the results of this race.  But overturning the result is not the reason for the recount.

Too stupid to know how to organize a get-out-the-vote effort like Democrats with technology, sophistication and smarts, Republicans in Montana (and nationally) are now complaining about the fact that “too many people were voting.” They’re calling for an end to election day registration and a shrinking of early vote options.

For a preview of how this charade will play out in Montana,  look how the Republicans are using the Allen West recount in Florida to peddle the voter fraud myth. The GOP thinks that if it’s harder to vote, they will gain an advantage.  They will use this recount charade to try to get support for rolling back early voting, same day registration, etc.

And of course American Traditions Partnership will be all for this.  ATP attorney Jim Brown is in on the ruse.  He told Sandy Welch’s campaign manager that he liked their chances of winning the recount.

People in Montana are voting in some of the highest numbers in the state’s history.  They are engaged, and the GOP doesn’t like that.  Republicans did better when more voters were apathetic, and so they want to return to those glory days.

Early voting must remain; vote by mail must increase; and same day registration must remain, because it is an important way of allowing people to vote when they have moved addresses but there’s a glitch in the system, for whatever reason, that hasn’t recorded it properly. In the past, these folks have been turned away.  Now with same day registration, they can vote.

Truth is, Republicans lost the big statewide races for three basic reasons, which are 1) they had inferior statewide candidates, 2) the Republican brand is in the toilet, thanks in large part to the Tea Party, and 3) in two races they gave away an average of 5 points to the libertarian candidate.

Had there been a third party candidate in the Juneau race, Welch would have already faded from view.  The contest is the only statewide race in which the democratic candidate, Denise Juneau, received more than 50% of the vote against a real opponent.

Posted: November 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Analysis: Indian Vote Key to Democratic Victories

Democrats in Montana’s key stateside races received over 70 percent of the Indian vote in the 2012 election, exceeding the 48-49 percent of the statewide vote they received by a wide margin.

The support likely played a major role in the senate, gubernatorial, and state superintendent races — and, conversely, in the Republicans’ failure to make any gains in statewide seats.

New figures from Montana Native Voice [PDF] show that Jon Tester won by approximately 16,000 votes–8,000 of which came from Indian country.  Steve Bullock won by about 6,000 votes and received 8,000 from Indian voters.  Denise Juneau won by over 2,000 more votes than her opponent and received 8,000 from Indians. Juneau is Montana’s first Indian woman to be elected to statewide office.

The numbers also show record high voter turnout in targeted democratic precincts in Indian country.  Indian voter turnout in targeted districts was 61% in 2012 compared to 60% in 2008 and 52% in 2006.  In contract, CNN is reporting that estimates of Montana’s 2012 statewide voter turnout was lower in 2012 lower than it was in 2008.

Strong support from Indian country could serve as a catalyst to build on Native representation and voices in key leadership roles at the state and federal level.  But while some seek to build on Governor Schweitzer’s legacy of reaching out to Indian people to make sure they are acknowledged, respected, and included–conservatives are already calling tribal sovereignty “ridiculous.”

Just yesterday, a Kalispell TEA Party Republican–and featured speaker at Republican Party events–penned an editorial that said Indian sovereignty is an “anachronism ” that has “long since served its purpose.”

On the right-wing blog PolyMontana, Mark Agather wrote that he knows full well:

“many will find this viewpoint way outside of their preferred politically correct viewpoint. But, times change. So should our policies with the Indian tribes. New approaches to old ways are hard for many to fathom much less accept. However, when the emotional shrieks and inevitable name calling has diminished, such a consideration should be worthy of a rational discussion.”

Watch for something along these lines to come up in the next legislative session.

Posted: November 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

We’ve Got a Problem

There are still thousands of ballots to count in Yellowstone County.  The fate one of Montana’s most important statewide races hangs in the balance, and several legislative contests are yet to be decided. The counting process is still going on now, as you can see from these pictures.

The pictures also show that there is cause for concern.

The first is a picture of an important sign in the Yellowstone County elections offices.  The sign clearly directs that people “DO NOT ENTER” the area where thousands of votes are still being counted. The area is sequestered so that those observing the vote counting process may see the process with out being able to tamper with the ballots.

 

Tom McGillvrayAnd these are pictures of TEA Party Republican state Rep. Tom McGillvray, of Billings.  (He’s the one in the suit. Here’s what he looks like from the front.)

The TEA Partier was caught on camera having barged right into the sequestered area in spite of regulations to protect the integrity of the counts.

 

 

Posted: November 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

Karl Rove Woke Up This Morning with a Strange Pain in His Ass…

…only to discover that the pain in his ass was due to the fact that the entire 2012 election had been shoved up it.

Rove came up empty, in Presidential and Congressional races.

Here in Montana, Denny Rehberg has been sent packing by Jon Tester, in an enormous victory, a virtual landslide.  Tester blew him out.  Libertarian candidate Dan Cox got almost seven percent, one of the biggest takes by a third party candidate since Ross Perot got in the mid-twenties in 1992.

We should all be proud of what Tester did.  The polls showed him neck and neck going into the last days, but he got his vote out and closed big.  And he overcame an absolute monsoon of negative ads lasting three months, one of the biggest smears ever recorded on Montana’s airwaves, funded by Washington DC Republicans and Karl Rove’s group Crossroads GPS. He dumped tens of millions into the race (and even paid a visit to Montana, to help Rehberg with strategy), all of it impugning Tester for having had the temerity to support his President.  And the beauty is, it doesn’t really look like the attack worked at all.  Tester cruised to victory.  What mattered more to voters was that Tester turns in a workday, doesn’t whine or complain, doesn’t spend his days smearing people or blaming people, but tries accomplish something.

Same for Obama, the object of vitriolic GOP hatred, who demolished the weak Mitt Romney in spectacular fashion, defeating yet another empty, negative campaign by the Republicans.  Poor Rove, whose group spent half a billion dollars and got zilch in return.   Dems have actually picked up a seat in the United States Senate, and Rove had the dubious task on FOXNews last night of trying to convince the public that while every network and news outlet was projecting Obama the winner, they were, according to Rove, doing so in error.  He had secret math, you see, that showed Romney was, in fact, still going to win.  What happened in Montana and nationally, well, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy than Karl Rove.

Dennis Rehberg, meanwhile, concludes 12 years of federal service and many more years of state government service, and the Cowgirl blog recognizes this contribution to society.  Though we rarely agree with Rehberg and have always advocated against him, anybody stepping up to run for or hold public office deserves recognition and congratulations upon the completion of a career, as do his many staffers and operatives who spent the last two years in this fight.   We wish Denny and his crew well in his future endeavors. Perhaps we will even see him try again two years from now for the Senate or even four years from now for governor, or maybe even try to take his seat back if Steve Daines vacates his newly won House seat to try to move up to Senate.

Speaking of Governor, Lee Newspapers, CNN, and NBC have called the race for Bullock, and now AP has as well.  Down three points heading into the weekend according to a Mason Dixon poll, Bullock came up strong last night.  Votes are still outstanding in Yellowstone County and also in a few key Indian countries like Glacier and Bighorn.  But Bullock is showing about a 2 point edge right now, and I don’t believe it will be eroded much by the balance of votes yet to be counted.  He will be our next Governor.  Keep the cellphone tight, Steve, for Rick Hill will be calling you shortly to congratulate you and concede the race.

Hill, like Rehberg, deserves credit for trying a comeback late in life.  He came up short, and has now probably concluded his political career, but he put in a tough effort and should be congratulated on having waged a pretty close race

Pam Bucy and Kim Gillan fought the good fight, but were up against two guys who had run for statewide office before, and so these two impressive gals started out at a disadvantage. Expect to see both of them remain in the orbit of public service.  Either or both would be excellent applicants for Bullock cabinet positions and Bucy, I believe, will be back again to run for something else.

Daines got a huge investment from the national Republican party, so that made life miserable for Gillan who could not pull in the same dough from her party and was running for an office that seems to have the word Republican posted on the door.  It was an uphill battle from the get-go.  But Bucy, a far superior candidate to her opponent, got shafted.  Our new attorney general Tim Fox has achieved his office by being bankrolled by secret money, close to a million dollars worth, the source of which has still not been determined.  Bucy had no such slush fund.  When you tally up the money, Bucy got outspent 5-1 at least.  It puts a cap on a sad chapter in Montana electoral history, in which Republicans attempted to take over the government with unlimited, secret corporate money.  Poor Pam became the object of the corporate wrath, despite an impeccable resume that made her opponent look like a bum.

In other races, Juneau, Lindeen and McCulloch all have leads right now, but Juneau’s race will be tight. She’s up half a point, with Billings and Indian country yet to be reported. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for her.

We should be proud of all these candidates.  And, I am proud of all of you, who have participated in this election by tuning in, for keeping the discussion alive and spirited, providing information, and for making Cowgirl blog the place for politics in Montana.