Tag Archives: Montana Legislative Races

By the numbers

Here are some interesting numbers which came out today from the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.  Anyone affiliated with this effort should be proud.

By the Numbers (according to the Montana Secretary of State website as of 3/11/14 ):


  • Seats filled: 125 (0 unfilled)
  • Total candidates: 153
  • Seats with primaries: 25
  • Women candidates: 67 (44% of total; exactly 50% of Senate candidates are women)
  • Native American candidates: 11 (not including 2 additional Native American legislators not up for election this year)


  • Seats filled: 109 (16 unfilled)
  • Total candidates: 150
  • Seats with primaries: 40 (including many against incumbents)
  • Women candidates: 28 (19% of total)
  • Native American candidates: 3


Republicans are always saying how much they love freedom.  But when it comes to your freedom to access information–or make decisions about your own body that they don’t agree with–they aren’t actually for it at all.

Take the Alaska Republican who had Ms. Magazine removed from a local grocery store so that local shoppers would no longer be able to make up their own minds about the magazine’s content.  The GOP objects to the feminist magazine because it supports reproductive health and the right to privacy for women.

As Jeanne Devon writes for The Mudflats:

It all makes one wish he were bright enough to appreciate concepts like irony and hypocrisy. Of course he supports “firearm freedom” on the local university campus, and “school choice” when it comes to public education dollars going to religious schools. But the freedom and choice of shoppers to decide for themselves which magazines they’d like to purchase? Not so much.

Here in Montana, groups like the Montana Family Foundation have recruited a whole slate of candidates who claim to love freedom but support policies which will take freedom away from Montanans.  These candidates are running to oppose the right to privacy for women, to oppose the freedom of Montana adults to marry, to censor scientific information in public school classrooms, and to take your tax dollars to subsidize sectarian schools which support censorship when it comes to things Republicans don’t want people to know, such as the existence of fossils.

Here are some of these candidates who are running for legislature on the GOP ticket:

In Billings Senate District 24, the Montana leader of the so-called “Concerned Women of America,” Montana chapter, Tonya Shellnut, has filed to run against democratic Senator Kendall Van Dyk.

But for those not yet familiar with this highly credible organization, according to the watchdog group Right Wing Watch,  the Concerned Women for America are very concerned that health care reform violates each and every single one of the Ten Commandments, that gays are discriminatory bullies who hate American democracy, that climate change science is a conspiracy against poor people, and that President Obama wants communists to control America’s children.

In Livingston House District 60, the Family Foundation’s lobbyist and leading school censorship proponent Debra Lamm is running against democratic Rep. Reilly Neill.

Lamm wants censorship because she claims (as the School Administrators of Montana point out) that higher standards for reading and math are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and that the new, better standards are the culmination “of an envisioned future of  ’dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.”  The Family Foundation and its anti-illuminati cohorts also believe that celebrating bigotry and taking away Montanans’ freedoms by importing stale, greasy fast food from hundreds of miles away is a good idea.


Yep, this is the Obama bullet ridden outhouse guy.Sen. Scott Boulanger R-Darby pictured left with the infamous bullet-ridden Obama outhouse, is running against in a GOP primary against Rep. Pat Connell. Boulanger was one of ten Republicans who actually voted to take freedoms away from Montanans by keeping being gay an imprisonable offense in Montana.     Voters in the area have already picked Pat Connell over Boulanger once before, when Boulanger ran for house in 2012. Boulanger lost, and the only reason he’s in office now is because he was appointed by the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee after another legislator was elected to the Public Service Commission.

Ronalee Skees is another anti-freedom for women candidate on the GOP ticket. Skees works for Hope Pregnancy Ministries [screenshot] as the so-called crisis pregnancy center’s Resource Director.

A crisis pregnancy center, in case you aren’t familiar with them yet, is basically a fake doctor’s office run by an anti-choice organization which poses as a medical clinic to get pregnant women seeking abortions or medical care in the door. Once women are inside, the staffers often then give women a Walmart pregnancy test out of the box and make them watch films with fake claims about the evils of abortion. There are all kinds of horror stories about these places, and there are several in operation in Montana. Some states have passed “truth in advertising” laws the prohibit these places from posing as medical clinics.Anyway, as the Montana Human Rights Network’s researchers report, “In 2010 white supremacist April Gaede solicited donations for Hope Pregnancy Ministries.”Even if you haven’t heard of April Gaede, you’ve probably heard of her twin daughters, Lamb and Lynx, who used to have a white power musical group called Prussian Blue. The two girls have been referred to as the “Nazi Pop Twins,” the Human Rights Network reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Gaede “a neo-Nazi stage mom” and includes a picture with her profile.

Gaede has posted on the white supremacist website Stormfront that she‘s given to Hope Pregnancy Ministries in the past, and that she believes giving money to that organization is a good way to “help save White babies.” I won’t link to Stormfront, nor should anyone.  As MHRN reports:

Gaede‘s posting continued by saying she has ―personally met many of these people (Ministries‘ staff). She told her peers to tell staff members that they were supporters of Stormfront, the  white supremacist website where Gaede made her request, when making a donation. She included the mailing address and website address for the Ministries.

Gaede encouraged her fellow white supremacists to send funds, because “our local population is over 95% White so they would be ―pretty much guaranteed to be helping to save White babies.”

Recall that Zachary Klundt, the man charged with four felonies in connection with the vandalism of a women’s clinic in Kalisepell is the son of a woman named Twyla Klundt, who is on the board of Hope Pregnancy Ministries.

Ronalee Skees is the wife of Derek Skees, the former TEA Party Republican legislator and nullification nutjob from the Flathead who proudly marched in a Memorial day parade wearing the confederate flag and is running this year for the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in Montana. Skees was profiled in TIME magazine because he has  been trying to make himself into a national figure in the ultra-right wing crowd.

Marissa Stockton has filed for office in Helena’s SD 42. Stockton is a former Steve Daines employee who has testified in the Montana legislature against the right to privacy and in favor of repealing women’s freedom to make their own medical decisions. 

The deadline for candidates to file for office today, when we’ll know how many GOP candidates have filed who claim to love freedom but support policies to take it away.

Montana Lawmaker Explains His Theory of Sex

by Cowgirl

This is a video you have to see to believe. Here’s Rep. Dave Hagrstrom (R-Billings) explains his theory of sex on the house floor of the Montana Legislature during an official session of that body. (Hint: It involves a ballpoint pen.)

Hagstrom was urging lawmakers to oppose a measure that would finally remove from state law language that makes being gay an imprisonable felony.

What’s even more shocking is that nearly 1/3 of the Montana legislature voted to keep prison time for gay people on the books. Thirty-six Montana legislators in the House and ten in the Senate, all Republicans, voted to do so. Below is a list of those lawmakers. The bill is SB 107.

(Note: Viewers report this KXLH video format (flash) isn’t viewable on iphone  - if you can’t see it, you’ll want to get to another computer. KXLH is looking into the problem.  If they do perhaps they can turn off the autoplay for their videos at the same time. I changed the video’s setting here but most people won’t.  Autoplay limits vids going viral because no one wants to post them as it repels viewers. When you open a website and a video or music starts playing automatically, most people will immediately click out.)

Continue reading

UPDATED: Dems Make Small Gain in Legislature

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.
  • Democrat Ed Leiser is leading Tim Baldwin.
  • Tom Jacobson appears to have taken out TEA Partier Cleve Loney.
  • Reilly Neill (D) looks to have taken out Dan Skattum in an ATP targeted race.
  • And in Butte, Ryan Lynch took back Max Yate’s house seat for the Dems.
  • Newcomer Jenny Eck was successfull in keeping her Helena house seat blue.
  • Gary Marbut lost in Missoula.


  • 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.


Local Legislative Races on National Radar

Three Montana legislative races are garnering national attention.  National Democrats announced today that legislative contests in Great Falls, Bozeman, and Lake County are among the sixty races that are key battlegrounds for state legislatures across the United States.

The spotlight is on these key races:

Franke Wilmer v. Tom Burnett in Bozeman

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.’”


Janna TaylorNancy 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.

She’s also the number one recipient of government farm subsidy cash in the Montana Legislature.



Cyndi Baker (left) and Rep. Cleve Loney R-Great Falls (right)Tom Jacobson v. Cleve Loney in Great Falls

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. 

Helena Legislative Candidate Jenny Eck Up with Television Ad

Helena legislative candidate Jenny Eck has a campaign ad on air.  Eck is the Democratic candidate for  House District 82, which includes much of Helena’s west side. The seat is currently held by Rep. Mike Menahan (D), who is not running for re-election.  It’s worth noting with all the web-only video we’ve seen this cycle that the ad is actually on broadcast and cable stations.  Here it is:

2012 Leg Race Preview

The latest analysis of special elections around the country shows an emerging pattern of wins that look very favorable to Dems.

The key point of the latest analysis:

Since March 1st, Democratic candidates have overperformed in almost every similar special election compared to the Democrats who ran in the same districts in 2010.

Across the nation, legislative races saw a 10-15% increase in democratic votes.  Of course, taken individually these races wouldn’t tell us much about how the election cycle is shaping up, but taken as a whole they portend likely wins for legislative democrats across the nation.

What would this mean for the Montana Legislature?

Based on last years vote numbers from the Secretary of State’s website, this would translate into enough of an increase in democratic vote performance to to flip enough house seats to give the deems a solid majority in the mid fifties.

That’s not counting the conventional wisdom that says that all else being equal, a lower-profile election will produce a more Republican electorate. That’s likely why we saw such an effort on voter suppression bills in Montana this past session, and around the U.S.

But 2012 is a presidential year (like 2008) and should see better Democratic performance than a midterm like 2010, which in turn should see better Democratic performance than an odd-year special election (like the 2011 votes analyzed above).  Not to mention the fact that field expertise is the strong suit of Tester’s campaign leadership.

Based on these numbers, we’ll likely see some strong candidates from the Democrats step up to run, folks that have been considering a run in the back of their minds who realize that this is their year.