Tagged: Linda McCulloch

Posted: April 15, 2014 at 6:53 am

REPORT: Montana Elections Among Best Run in Nation

A recent report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks Montana elections as the 11th best in the nation under Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. The report also calls for implementation of McCulloch’s plan for online voter registration, which would make access to voting a lot easier.

Montana has ranked in the top of the nation for the past two federal election cycles. Under McCulloch’s leadership, the state has been recognized for expanding its use of electronic voter information tools, adding post-election audits, and increasing the accessibility and accuracy of military and overseas citizen ballots.

Online voter registration in the era of online banking, shopping, and everything else is a no-brainer. Twenty states already have it. But luddites (and those who don’t want more people to vote) in the Montana legislature have repeatedly blocked McCulloch’s proposal to implement online voter registration and instead continue to introduce bills to make it more difficult to vote in hopes of suppressing votes from young people, women, working families and people of color–people less likely to support Republicans.

McCulloch shows up personally to oppose every single bill to restrict voting rights, for which she is to be commended. Republicans legislators forced a referendum on the November ballot to repeal same day voter registration in Montana and restrict the amount of time available to Montanans to register and vote.

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 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: 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.

Posted: September 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

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.

Posted: September 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm

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

Posted: June 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

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.

Posted: June 6, 2012 at 7:29 am

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.

Posted: May 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

TEA Partier Refuses to Let Facts Stop Angry Tirade

A 29-year-old hothead, a wannabe Tea Party politician named Scott Aspenlieder (pronounced Aspen-lighter), was caught in the embarrasing position of being on the wrong side of the facts this week. Scott launched an angry tirade accusing Secretary Linda McCulloch of being behind a Broadwater County precinct’s ballot glitch.

However, the Great Falls Tribune reported hat Scott is wrong:

Broadwater County election officer Rhonda Nelson said the error on the 11th precinct ballot was between her office and the private contractor who printed and mailed the ballots.

“There was no state involvement in this error,” Nelson said. “There was nothing that the state should have done or could have done differently. The error was entirely between the software company and my office.”

Scott  refused to acknowledge he’d gotten it wrong, which shows he doesn’t even know how the office he’s running for works.  County election officers are responsible for printing ballots.

Scott began his campaign by insulting teachers. He declared that Linda McCulloch, the current Secretary of State (SOS), is a “lifelong bureaucrat” and for that reason is not qualified to be SOS. McCulloch is a lifelong teacher, so Aspenlieder has now brought the national GOP war on teachers to Montana, by calling teachers “bureaucrats.”

Scott opposes mail ballots–perhaps because the allow more people to vote.  In voicing his opposition to the practice he even insulted rural communities. He railed on a vote-by-mail proposal that McCulloch voiced support for (she supported it because it would have saved the state two million dollars annually.)

Scott stated that:

voting is about all these rural communities have left.

In other words, Scott  thinks rural folk need the diversion thay a trip to the polls provides, since they have nothing else in their lives.

The glitch impacted 125 ballots.  All the voters are being notified by phone of the error and sent new ballots.