As of the time of this posting, with vote counts still coming in, it looks like the make-up of the Montana senate may be 21 Democratic senators to 29 Republicans in the next legislative session. Democrats and Republicans appear to have won an equal number of the seats up for grabs, but Rs maintained an advantage in holdover senators.
During the 2011 session, there were 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats.
In the House, it looks like Democrats may pick up seven five seats, making that chamber 40 38 Democratic seats to 60 62 Republicans instead of 32-68 like the 2011 session. This will help Governor-elect Steve Bullock sustain his 2013 vetoes. UPDATE: As of 8:30 pm Wed evening, Dems have gained seven MT house seats. The Billings Gazette has the story.
All of the results STILL aren’t in yet, so this could change and the Dems could pick up more seats.
Here are a couple of highlights. I’m sure there more more, please add them in the comments.
Democrats Brad Hamlett and Greg Jergeson were successful in winning tough Senate races.
Janna Taylor and Dee Brown will be back in the Senate.
Militia-linked Jennifer Fielder is in from Sanders County is now a state senator.
Nicholas Schwaderer defeated Christine Johnson for the Superior house seat that was much in the news.
Dog killer Roger Webb is leading Wanda Grinde in Billings for the Heights senate seat, but all the votes aren’t yet in.
Warburton and Hanson will be back in the house. Though given the recent Frontline expose, she might be subject to a range of penalties, including removal from office, fines, or worse. The question is whether there is a prosecutor out there who is willing to begin looking into this stuff.
Liz Bangerter from Helena and Joanne Blyton from Red Lodge will be back as well.
Republican candidates across the county have tried to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who believes that rape victims should be forced to give birth and said that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
That’s been much more difficult for GOPers in Montana.
The forced birth for rape victims amendment cleared the house and the senate with 96 votes. All Republicans voted for it except Lila Evans. However, because it takes a 2/3 vote of 150 legislators to amend the constitution, the amendment failed by only four votes.
Below the fold is the list of current legislative candidates who voted in favor of forced births for victims of rape and incest. Check it out to see if your legislator is on it–I’ve alphabetized the list by town.
Shamefully, Jonathan Windy Boy and Gene Vuckovich also made the list. To be sure, there are many more GOP candidates for legislature who share these beliefs but weren’t in the 2011 session–like Scott Sales. There are also many more Republican legislators who voted for this but aren’t up for re-election this year.
Rep. Franke Wilmer served as House Speaker pro tempore and finishing second in this year’s Democratic primary for Congress.
Wilmer’s opponent is Rep. Tom Burnett, a TEA Party crackpot running on a platform of cutting food for hungry kids in need. His ridiculous “report,”Hunger in America: The Myth, “calls for an end to food assistance programs and offers such advice to needy parents as ‘No whining,’ ‘Gather wild berries,’ and in a moment of unintended irony, ‘Expect occasional hunger.’”
Nancy Lindsey v. Janna Taylor in Lake County
Democrat Nancy Lindsey, who co-founded a successful software company, will likely make job creation a top issue in this campaign. Taylor, is a TEA Party Republican who claims to oppose government spending.
Democrat Tom Jacobson was the Executive Director of Rural Dynamics for ten years. The organization promotes the “economic security of Montana’s working class.”
Jacobson is running against TEA Party loon Cleve Loney. Cleve is quite fond of costumes, as you can see from these pictures. Loney’s platform seems to involve something about the Constitution, though it’s not clear what.
“That’s what we have to do – we have to keep it in check to where they keep the Constitution where it belongs. They are trying to shred it and we’re going to stop that because this country is founded on the Constitution and our founding fathers have a reason for putting it the way they did – limited government.”
You can read the full 2012 Essential Races list here.
Polson software entrepreneur Nancy Lindsey announced her run for State Senate District 6 this week after the previous candidate withdrew from the race. The District is an open seat previously held by Republican Sen. Carmine Mowbray. Mowbray was defeated in the GOP primary by the embattled TEA Party state Rep. Janna Taylor, the number one recipient of government farm subsidy cash in the Montana Legislature. With a candidate of this caliber now in the race, the seat is seen as up for grabs.
“I know first-hand what it takes to start a successful small business in this state and what it takes to create a thriving community,” continued Lindsey. “As State Senator, I will work hard every day to make sure our community’s values are well-heard and well-represented in Helena. And I won’t let partisan politics get in the way.”
After graduating from Polson High School, Lindsey studied engineering and business management. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from MIT, and later, a master’s in business management. She is the co-founder of Black Mountain Software. The successful company streamlines the budgeting and billing process for their clients across Montana, and twenty- two other states. Black Mountain’s software also allows clients to cut costly waste by allowing for paperless purchase requests and tracking accurate real-time budget information. After 20 years of steady growth Black Mountain employs 34 people, 25 in the Polson office and 9 at their Helena office.
Taylor was the gal, mind you, who said that Governor Schweitzer had “grown government” so much that “the governor’s residence needs to be fumigated when he leaves office.” And here is a peach of a response from Rep. Taylor, when confronted with the fact that she’s been on the dole to the tune of a 100 grand annually for the last decade: “I don’t control federal dollars. Talk to Senators Baucus or Tester.”
“The people of Lake and Flathead Counties deserve better than the partisan gridlock we’ve seen in Washington,” says Lindsey. “I’m running for the legislature because, like all Montanans, I believe creating jobs is more important than scoring political points. That’s the vision I’ll bring to the state legislature.”
Lindsey says she will focus on job creation, education, and ensuring our state remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Her candidacy is endorsed by Polson Mayor Pat DeVries and CSKT Council Member Steve Lozar. She will appear on the ballot this November.
Lindsey has also worked as a teacher, an early childhood educator, an aide for children with disabilities, and an assistant for the elderly. She is a child of educators and raised her three children in the public school system. Lindsey previously served on the Polson School Board from 1993 to 2001 and was elected to serve again in May of 2011.
Senate District 6 runs from Lakeside in Flathead County to Ravalli in Lake County and includes the towns of Polson, Ronan, Charlo, and St. Ignatius, and other small communities within the district.Tweet
For those who believe that last year’s TEA Party Republican Legislature has inflicted enough trauma on Montana, consider that what happened in this week’s primary election spells a looming disaster for the next session. Out-of-state corporate groups worked in the primaries to push the already Bat Crap Crazy Montana legislature further rightward and over the cliff.
Mailers by third party, out-of-state, and corporate-funded groups succeeded in several races in getting more conservative candidates elected in GOP Primaries across the state. Their work was also designed to force a further rightward shift in the votes of all legislators in the next session. That’s because legislators who don’t currently vote hard right on every single bill now know that if they don’t toe the line next time, they are likely to face the same kind of attack ads and mailers we saw this year.
The attack mailers had an impact on several high profile races–putting in right-wingers over moderates in Laurel, Stevensville, Sidney, Polson, the Flathead, and who knows where else. Not only do these groups refuse to disclose how much their spending and who they are spending it on, they also refuse to disclose their donors. If their supporters were individual Montana citizens they would have nothing to hide and could just file as a Political Action Committee. But they don’t. They claim that their attack ads are “educational” rather than “electioneering” so that they don’t have to report who’s bankrolling them. Besides their ridiculous names, here’s what is known about the groups pushing the Montana Legislature further into the abyss.
“Taxpayers for Liberty”
An outside ultraconservative group calling itself “Taxpayers for Liberty” (linked to American Tradition Partnership) sent out mailers like those pasted below against Republican Rep. Carmine Mowbray and Republican Sen. Bruce Tutvedt. The group sent one mailer with a Washington DC return address. Another had the return address of the Helena UPS store. So, it’s unlikely a Montana group. There’s no record of “Taxpayers for Liberty” in the Montana Secretary of State’s database or with the Commissioner of Political Practices either. The group does not disclose its donors so the involvement of corporate or Koch brothers money can’t be ruled out. Even though they didn’t succeed in ousting Tutvedt, they still succeeded in sending a message that anyone who doesn’t vote hardline Bat Crap can expect the same treatment in 2014, thus resulting in a further right leaning legislature in January.
“Montana Family Foundation”
The massive amount of secret, corporate and out-of-state money at work in the Montana primaries allowed the groups that had worked in these races in the past to be more effective. Thanks to corporate money, special interest lobbying groups working in conservative races like the so-called Montana Family Foundation didn’t have to get involved in every primary this year. They could be more targeted, and more deadly. In fact, after a Montana judge that struck down the law requiring accuracy in campaign ads, the Montana Family Foundation called the court decision “a good thing”and a victory, the Flathead Beacon reported.
The group put out radio ads mailers claiming that Republican legislators Carmine Mowbray and Bruce Tutvedt:
“voted to allow fifth graders to be taught different sexual positions and variations and to allow “kindergarten students to be taught sexual detail without parental consent,”
You can tell the Family Foundation attack ads are designed to scare Republicans into making outrageous votes by looking at the groups “C-2″–a statement PACs are required to file with the Commissioner of Political Practices. The [PDF] form reads so explicitly it is a veritable “kill list” of Republicans who didn’t vote how lobbyist Laszloffy ordered. If you don’t vote like we tell you, this form says, you’re next.
Laszloffy attacked Tutvedt and Mowbray by distorting their voting records, but why he targeted Republican candidate Tami Christensen in Sidney is a puzzle. How Laszloffy came to the conclusion that she doesn’t meet his creepy purity test is unclear, since out of hundreds of legislative candidates, only one bothered to fill out Laszoffy’s questionnaire. One wonders if it was just because she’s a woman. Several local Republicans spoke out against the Family Foundation’s actions, including the Mayor and former State Legislator Sen. Donald Steinbeisser.
The quotes from their release were particularly outrageous, given that ATP is funded by large out-of-state and multi-national corporations:
“This isn’t just a victory for ATP-Montana, it’s a victory for all ratepayers, property owners and businesspeople across the Treasure State,” said Doug Lair, State Coordinator for ATP-Montana. “Whether it’s against foreign corporations coming after our property rights or Gang Green’s hand-picked politicians bilking us through our utility bills, ATP-Montana will continue to fight for working people.”
“ATP is going to make sure there are consequences for regulation-happy politicians who want to use mom-and-pop business owners and employers as nothing more than punching bags and ATM machines,” added Lair, “and we won’t be shut up or shut down.”
ATP also threatened to buy the November elections, and threatened Steve Bullock in particular, saying that
“a pro-resource development agenda is sure to weigh heavily in the legislative elections in November, and particularly as party nominees Rick Hill and Steve Bullock face off in the race for governor.”
This demagoguing flier was mailed with heavy saturation in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and who knows where else:
“Montana Growth Network”
This group worked in the Supreme Court race, but since Montana TEA Party Republican legislator Jason Priest is the groups treasurer I’m including it here. The Supreme Court race is non-partisan but the Helena IR reported that
“the Montana Growth Network, spent $19,000 with Richmond, Va.-based Desumo Strategies, which on its website lists as its one goal “Putting Republicans like you in office, at every level.”
By spending more on one saturation mailing then the conservative candidate they were backing had raised for her entire campaign, this corporate front group took the first step to buying the Supreme Court seat. Laurie McKinnon, who dog whistled at Lincoln Reagan dinners across Montana about “judicial activism,” “strict constructionist” and other conservative buzzwords was pushed past front-runner Elizabeth Best–in spite of reports of alleged Judicial Code of Ethics violations reported in Montana papers across the state. The allegations involve a fundraising letter sent out on McKinnon’s behalf, paid for by Laurie McKinnon’s campaign, from a sitting conservative Judge, Nels Swandal.
State District Judge Nels Swandal, who’s running for an open seat on the Montana Supreme Court, sent some clear signals Saturday to Republicans that he is the more conservative candidate in the race, saying he didn’t have or want the endorsement of a prominent labor or conservation group.
Swandal, speaking at a forum at the Republican Party Platform Convention in Billings, said some of the questions posed by the Montana AFL-CIO to candidates “are among the most un-American ideas I’ve ever seen,” and that he wouldn’t seek endorsement of the Montana Conservation Voters “because of their assault on private property.”
With groups like this pushing Montana further into nutjob territory, it’s easy to see why leaders like Steve Bullock, Brian Schweitzer and citizens from all over the state are fighting so hard to restore accuracy, transparency, and citizen input into Montana elections. What remains of the right to vote when the only messages most people get on issues of public policy are those put forward by large businesses, out-of-staters, and those with huge amounts of disposable cash?Tweet
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.
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.Tweet
A Flathead area property owner is taking on Republican Rep. Janna Taylor for paying less than 20 bucks in property tax for lakeshore property and raking in over a million dollars in federal farm subsidies. In fact, the TEA Partier is the number one recipient of government farm subsidy cash in the Montana Legislature.
Anne Marie Semsak, in a well-written letter in the Missoulian this week writes:
It is a matter of public record that Rep. Janna Taylor owns 15 acres, including 660 feet of Flathead lakeshore property, near Rollins, for which she pays $19 annual property tax, plus a little over $2,000 for the improvements on the land – house, dock and outbuildings. Her taxable value is $400,031.
We own 4.87 acres with 180 feet of lakeshore with two older houses and a mobile home. Our taxable value is $1,064,136.
Taylor is a state legislator, entrusted to fairly serve her district. She lists “rancher” on her biographical information, but their ranch is in central Montana, far from this legislative district. I have not seen “cherry farmer” on any of her information. One could conclude that she is taking advantage of the agricultural exemption, and I find this disturbing.
Taylor made waves in the Montana legislature for her hypocrisy in government spending and her statement that the death penalty is needed to address prisoner spitballs. Taylor is running for the Montana Senate against incumbent Sen. Carmine Mowbray (R-Polson) in the June 5 primary elections.
Tim Baldwin (R-Crackpot) Running in Derek Skees’ footsteps for Whitefish House Seat
Whitefish residents thrilled to find TEA Party Republican Derek Skees aiming for statewide office and abandoning his legislative seat are re-thinking their good cheer. That’s because TEA Party Republican Tim Baldwin, son of Chuck Baldwin, is running in his place. Baldwin is basically Skees with a law degree + uber-religious conservative + has dad with ties to the white supremacy movement–a truly scary thing.
In the video below, Baldwin discusses his theory on why true Christians don’t need to follow the law if they decide they don’t like the evil government:
Elizabeth Best Campaign Ad Up
Montana candidate for Supreme Court Elizabeth Best has a campaign ad up. Here it is: Tweet