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.

Fox News: “Bat-crap” Crazy Legislature Could Keep MT Gov Seat with Dems

More bad new for republican gubernatorial hopefuls this week. Voter backlash in reaction to the TEA party legislature, Fox News reports:

“could keep the governorship of the Big Sky state in Democratic hands.”

The crazy bills that the Montana GOP introduced upon taking office–encouraging global warming, funding militias, giving sheriffs autonomy over the federal government, and many more–in the Montana legislature have either been killed by embarrassed GOP moderates or will be soon–or will be publicly vetoed by the Governor.

As Fox writes:

“Governor Schweitzer has said bills introduced by Tea Party freshmen in the state legislature, ‘make Republicans look bat-crap crazy.'”

In Colorado,  the TEA party’s wingnut positions and refusal to compromise with the mainstream has caused electoral nightmares for the Rs to the extent that chair Dick Waddams  up and quit,  saying that because of the Tea party legislature, the GOP’s ability “to win and retain the votes of hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated swing voters in 2012 will be severely undermined,” Fox reports.  Waddams knows well the political landscape of Montana and the west.  He managed Conrad Burns’ 2000 Senate Campaign.

As Fox News reports, in a high turnout election atmosphere (like 2012 will be with Montana’s U.S. Senate race) Republicans must reach out and attract independents and unaffiliated voters to get to a majority. But the TEA party Republicans extremism is making that impossible, which will cause real problems for whomever wins Montana’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

Zac Perry: Education, Community, Commitment

Guest Post by Barry B. Conger, Columbia Falls

Dear House District Three Voters:

Election day looms near. There is an awful lot of noise out there right now about national races, but in the end, what really effects our everyday lives happens a lot closer to home. Our property taxes, our children’s education, our personal rights and privileges are most often determined at a much more local level.  For those in House District #3 race for State Legislature, I ask that when you go to the polls on Nov 2nd (please vote!), please be careful when considering who can best carry your concerns and issues to our State House.

If you don’t already know him, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Zac Perry:

Zac Perry was born in House District 3, grew up in Martin City, went to Canyon Elementary and graduated from Columbia Falls High School – he was football player, a basketball player, a track runner, and still managed to graduate with a perfect 4.0, first in his class. He then took advantage of the great education he received in our small town, and secured a Bachelors degree in political science from prestigious Notre Dame University. Then he brought this education home to the Flathead Valley and to his community.

When Zac is not running the Ox Yoke Inn in Martin City, or teaching kids at Ruder and Glacier Gateway, he is working on building a safer walking/biking system for local kids to get to school, and to rebuild the Historic Red Bridge across the Flathead, and singing in the CF Community Choir, and helping with anything and everything at the Columbia Falls Farmer’s Market, and working with Canyon business leaders to improve the economic climate and extend the business season. When was the last time you saw any of the other candidates in the race participating at this level – not just showing up for public meetings seeking votes, but working behind the scenes to help our community?

The fact that Zac is the only candidate in the District 3 race with a four-year degree from a major university should be telling to folks thinking about how to vote on Nov 2nd . Having a local to represent us who has the knowledge, background, and skills that Zac does is a win for everyone.

The fact that Zac came back to his home town to work with his family running a local business should be a measure of his commitment to the community he lives in. Zac’s deep belief in this community will allow Zac to translate the concerns of all of his constituents into reasonable and effective legislative action.

Zac also works as an educator for School District Six, which should tell you a lot about his strong commitment to education. If you value a quality education for your children, and recognize its benefit  to the entire community,  you need Zac in Helena.

Why are these things important? Because representation of Columbia Falls, Martin City, Hungry Horse, Polebridge, West Glacier, and all the other communities  in the district is personal. We send legislators to Helena to represent OUR needs, OUR issues, OUR values. Zac Perry knows these needs. Zac Perry lives these issues. Zac Perry has our values as his own. Zac will take with him to Helena a deep personal commitment to this community, not a private agenda to forward his own business, and not a radical effort to bring fringe ideas to the Legislature.

With Zac Perry representing us in the State Legislature, we will be able to feel confident that a local native with his eyes squarely on the best interests of our community is representing US in Helena. I believer that Zac will go to Helena with a reasoned attitude, a thorough understanding of local issues – jobs, education, taxation, preserving our way of life – and a deep commitment to serve the community he represents.

I am proud to stand up in support of Zac for House District 3. I believe that he carries with him the very essence of what we should look for in political representation – values, commitment, integrity, education, and a selfless drive to better his community. I hope that you will get to the polls on Nov 2nd and I hope you will send Zac to represent you in Helena.

MT TEA Party Lawsuit Part of National Religious Right-Wing GOP Strategy

The Helena IR reported yesterday that the Billings “Montana Shrugged” TEA Party faction is suing the state to invalidate Montana laws that regulate sunshine in campaign  spending and reporting in politics.

The lawsuit, filed with the help of the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Ind., says Montana laws requiring various financial reporting by political committees are unconstitutionally vague and should not apply to groups like Montana Shrugged.

Just who is the out-of-state “James Madison Center for Free Speech”?  It is backed and lead by the conservative and religious right-wing of the national Republican Party.

Indeed, one of  [the group’s leaders James] Bopp’s greatest sources of funding emerged when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) embraced Bopp and his cause of campaign finance deregulation and helped him set up his own nonprofit litigation center — the James Madison Center for Free Speech — in 1996, on which McConnell agreed to serve as the honorary chairman.

The group’s leader, James Bopp Jr., is a Republican-backed lawyer who’s fought campaign finance laws for 30 years.  In fact, he’s the guy that filed the suit that led to last January’s Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate influence on elections.

Once again, the so-called “local TEA Party movement” is just a pawn of a national Republican movement to obliterate transparency in campaign spending.

In fact, the Kansas City Star reports that this same entity is now challenging laws in at least a dozen states that have disclosure laws like Montana: including California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

And finally, all this garbage about how the TEA Party is supposedly not to be interested in social issues must finally be put to rest.