Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "...an uncanny knack for sharp insider information..."--AP "...amazingly accurate inside info..."--Politico.com "...a viral sensation..."--Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."--Washington Post
Former state senator and Republican Party Chair Ken Miller on Monday overwhelmingly won the Lewistown TEA Party straw poll following the most recent candidate debate. It’s a sign that the tide may be turning against former Congressman Rick Hill among base voters where he had previously appeared to be on course for an easy win.
Miller took first place in the informal post debate survey with 49 percent. Stapleton placed a distant second with the votes of 15 percent of participants. Former Congressman Rick Hill took third with 12 percent.
The remaining votes came it at 11 percent for Livingstone, seven percent for Jim Lynch, and three percent each for Bob Fanning and Jim O’Hara.
The survey comes less than three weeks before mail ballots go out.
Yesterday it continued. State Senator Dave Lewis, a regular Cowgirl blog commenter, admitted that Montana’s current Pension woes, which Schweitzer is now trying to fix, are due largely to his own bill, HB 294, which he carried in 2001 on behalf of Judy Martz and her chief economic policy guru, Rick Hill. This bill, ordered by the Martz administration as a supposed long-term solution to avoiding an insolvent state pension fund, gave automatic increases (3% a year), to state workers. It assumed that the stock market would go up forever.
Lewis gave an interview in which he said that “in forty years of government, HB 294 was the worst mistake I ever made.” Some kudos to Dave Lewis for his honesty; this type of confession is rarely heard in politics.
The more important point is that Lewis’s statement closes the book on a very substantial inquiry as to the ineptitude of the Judy Martz administration. We now have a confession entered into the record, conclusive proof that the Republican administrations of the last 20 years fucked things up, and Schweitzer has had to spend seven years trying to repair the damage.
The GOP Gubernatorial primary and “The Lord of the Rings” both concern alternate realities, too many characters to follow, and talking about either of them repels members of the opposite sex.
In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” a hobbit of The Shire journeys with eight companions to defeat Mordor so they can return to Middle Earth.
In the GOP Primary, has-beens from decades past journey with their companions on a quest to regain the power that has been in the hands of the wing-nuts’ arch enemy, Brian Schweitzer, for eight years. They hope to return Montana to the era where the Dark Lords reign.
Responding to a Lee Newspapers questionnaire in today’s Helena Independent Record, the seven GOP gubernatorial candidates all said that Montana must “develop our natural resources” as a way to reduce unemployment and make our economy strong, and that “red tape” and “excessive regulations” are standing in the way of such development.
Which raises an interesting question: what resources, exactly, are we not developing? Are there oil wells known to be pregnant that have not been tapped, because of regulations? I doubt it. The amount of exploration taking place in Eastern Montana is comprehensive. Landowners often receive giant checks from oil companies just for the right to test the ground and search for oil. Any identified oil deposit whose recovery would not be hindered by some geological problem is already being drilled.
And coal? The rights to the Otter Creek coal deposit are now owned by the largest coal company in America, with designs on extracting it after paying an up front bonus of $80 million to the state of Montana. To my knowledge, the Arch company has not indicated that any rules or regulations are causing a hindrance to development. Nor have the owners of any other coal deposit, or oil field.
As is well known, Montana is developing its resources at a faster rate than at any time in the state’s history. So the question that should have been asked of these candidates is: What resources are not being developed? Where are they, precisely? Who owns them? And why are these owners not registering the same complaint as these seven buffoons running for Governor?
Perhaps the able newspaperwomen and men at the Lee company will ask these follow-up questions in the future.
A new commenter here showed up to defend Neil Livingstone. S/he said Livingstone’s sex tourism advice made him more electable because it demonstrated his business “savvy.” Then s/he made another ridiculous statement: that there were more oil rigs in North Dakota because “corporations will choose to do business in a state like North Dakota over a state like Montana due to the corporate tax issue.”
The statement is utterly false, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP candidates from repeating variations on it ad nauseum. Today, Governor Brian Schweitzer called them out on their lies. Schweitzer said ”that Republican candidates for governor, who he referred to as ‘jokers,’ are wrong to blame taxes and regulations,” for differing oil development levels in Montana and North Dakota the AP reports.
There are more oil wells North Dakota because there is more oil there to drill. According to Montana Department of Commerce Energy Production and Development Division statistics, Montana’s taxes related to oil and gas production are 40-50% lower than in North Dakota. Our state also has a faster permitting process than both North Dakota and Wyoming. Montana permits are out in 60 days on average. In Wyoming a permit takes ten months. It takes a year in North Dakota.
Anyway, there’s some serious backpedaling going on in the article.
One of Rick Hill’s biggest flubs in the piece was arguing that oil development is hindered by the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Montana. The current work comp system was crafted while Hill was chair of the workers compensation board. Hill used to brag about creating the system, until it got out what a disaster it was for businesses. At that point, Hill tried to scrub his involvement in the debacle from his Wikipedia page.
Regardless, the candidates are all on the record slinging misinformation. You’ll find a list of some of their statements below.
Right now there are more unemployed Montanans looking for work today than there were a year ago. Our unemployment rate has drifted up over the course of this year, not down.”
-Rick Hill, Montana Public Radio, 11/21/11
“If you ask the outside business groups, what they say about Montana is that we are really interested in investing in Montana, they have a great workforce, work ethic, and a lot of natural resources, there is a lot of potential in Montana. But it is an unstable political regulatory and legal environment for us to make a substantial investment.”
-Rick Hill, Hometown Helena, 6/2/11
“The governor has influence, we need to show the rest of the world we are open for business, we need to show the businesses we are not hostile compared to our neighbors.”
-Corey Stapleton, Yellowstone County Young Republican Debate, 2/9/12
“We have got to become friendly to those that create the jobs, Montana has not had a great reputation for that.”
-Ken Miller, Liberate Main Street, Billings Event, 10/31/11
“My only criticism has been to the governor. It has been that here we are that Montana has this reputation of being anti-business, anti-natural resources development, we cannot seem to get our coal developed. We are behind North Dakota and Wyoming, and the first thing is big bad business.”
-Ken Miller, Voices of Montana, Northern Broadcasting 7/14/11
A campaign video for Republican candidate for Governor Ken Miller includes footage of the Executive Director of the Republican Party talking with Miller interspersed with other prominent and community endorsers of the candidate.
It’s certainly not the first time a candidate has used someone’s image in a campaign, but placing it in with his other endorsements–in his endorsement themed video– is a bold move unless he has permission to do so.
Greenwood has not, to my knowledge, come out with a public statement in support of Miller at this time.
Others in the Miller endorsement video say they are supporting him because, “Ken is a God fearing humble man” who “takes his wisdom from Jesus Christ.” The supporters, which also include Rep. Derek Skees (R-TEA Whitefish) say Miller ”will push back on the federal government” and that he is “pious.”
One woman is supporting Miller because she was” impressed that he was dressed as Abe Lincoln on a float.”
Presumably that was one of the better reasons to endorse Ken or it wouldn’t have made it into the video.