Tag Archives: Neil Livingstone

GOP Honchos: Zinke is Slinky on Abortion

zinkeslinkyIt has not been a good week for Ryan Zinke, the former state legislator from Whitefish who is running for Congress.  He is in the midst of a nasty GOP primary and his fellow Republicans are ganging up on him and making life very tough.

It’s good drama, and it could bode well for Jon Lewis if he beats out Jon Driscoll, as I expect he should, for the Democratic primary in the House race.

This week, Zinke was (predictably) criticized by right-wingers, heavily, for having made several votes in favor of women’s medical privacy in his time as state senator. His votes would actually reduce the need for abortion, by improving access to birth control and prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place, but facts don’t matter to his opponents, who would probably outlaw birth control altogether. (He also made many anti-choice votes.)  The state newspapers had two separate articles over the weekend describing Zinke’s mixed abortion position and now, today, a third one has been published.

Yesterday’s piece reported that the Three Amigos–Rick Hill, Ken Miller and John Brenden, all former GOP state chairs–are slamming Zinke for being pro-choice and for having voted on occasion in favor of the environment. They say he is not a true conservative but rather (gasp) a moderate.  Thus in their view Zinke does not pass the conservative purity test that we have often seen applied in GOP primaries.

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To review, Zinke is in a race right now against Corey Stapleton, Matt Rosendale and Elsie Arntzen among a few others. These are all current or former state legislators.

Arntzen is said to have extraordinary personal wealth at her disposal, but if she does she clearly hasn’t spent much of it. She’s not really that visible, nor has she done or said anything to separate herself from the pack or establish a brand.

Stapleton and Rosendale each have put a fair amount of resources into the race although only one of them–Rosendale–seems to be speaking the language of the Republican base.  He has an ad on TV, in case you haven’t seen it, in which he shoots a drone down with a rifle. And, Rosendale tends to come across as a lunatic, some kind of cross between a white supremacist and an inmate at a maximum security prison.

 

Zinke’s TV ad, meanwhile, shows him walking in a field and talking about his grandmother (and he tweeted several times this week about his grandmother) but does not position him in any way on the GOP spectrum, and does not provide the viewer any memorable visual like Rosendale does.  And the narrator says Zinke is the right kind of conservative, which is a dangerous thing to say in this climate of rabid TEA Partiers when there is no elaboration. The implication of the TV ad is that Zinke is an old fashioned conservative, but that drone doesn’t fly these days among the Tea Party.  I believe it could be a misstep for Zinke to have spent so much money on so bland an ad, because he should have foreseen the concerted attacks on his conservative cred, and done something more along the lines of Rosendale–something to boldly brand himself as a wingnut is needed to win the GOP primary.

Zinke has misfired before with the statewide GOP electorate, notably in 2012 when he joined up with Neil Livingstone as his lieutenant governor candidate. That campaign was never much more than a whisper.

The strange part is that Zinke is rumored to have shot and killed dozens of Iraqi soldiers in the 1990s in the first Gulf War.  I would have thought that shooting and killing foreigners would earn an automatic victory in a gun-crazed GOP primary nowadays.  Isn’t that what every Tea Party voter dreams of? And yet Zinke seems like he might be stalled, floundering.

Then again, without any polling data it is tough to say who is leading this race.  Public Policy Polling or Rasmussen will no doubt soon publish some data and maybe then we’ll know where it all stands.

If I had to guess I’d say it’s now a three way heat between Zinke, Rosendale and Stapleton.  Stapleton is running statewide for the third time; Rosendale has spent a boatload on his TV ad; and Zinke has a strong following the Flathead but the attacks against him are probably wearing him down.

For some unknown and odd reason, Zinke and Artzen, though opponents, have the same campaign treasurer.

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One hilarious item in the Zinke coverage is that the top anti-choice activist in Montana, the president of the state’s Right To Life chapter, Greg Trude, is supporting Zinke.

Trude was asked how he can support a candidate who has taken pro-choice votes. Trude said Zinke has a 100% pro-life rating from his organization. The reporter asked to see the organization’s official candidate ratings. Trude said he doesn’t have any on paper, but that he keeps all candidates’ scores “in his head.”

Urgent Emergency

Steve Daines and Ted Cruz at a TEA Party caucus press event.

Steve Daines and Ted Cruz at a TEA Party caucus press event.

As you all know, Montana Republicans are a nativist and xenophobic crew, who hurl “out-of-state” as a nasty insult and love to tout the number of generations back that their lineage has lived in Montana.  Many a pale chest is thumped mightily as if these men had a role in choosing the location of their births.

So we should assume that the GOP power brokers are currently holding an emergency meeting in a smoke-filled room somewhere, urgently trying to decide how to handle a shocking development within the party: Continue reading

2014 Field Shaping Up

Now that Schweitzer will be on the homestead and not the hustings, what will the field of candidates look like in 2014, for either Senate or House, assuming Steve Daines runs for Senate?  Anyone looking for a ticket to DC needs to get in the the game soon, to start raising money and organizing.

There are many names being floated on the Dem side.  Many have statewide name recognition.  Denise Juneau is in the second term of her stint as the popular state schools chief in Montana.   If Juneau were the nominee, she’d be the first native American nominee for federal office since Bill Yellowtail in the 1990s (unless you count Schweitzer, who was adopted by at least one tribe, but I don’t think that counts).

John Bohlinger, Schweitzer’s Lt. Governor, is quoted today in the Billings Gazette as saying that he, too, might be interested in filling the vacancy left by his old boss.  Though he is sprightly for 77, Bohlinger could nevertheless campaign with great authority on issues such as Medicare and Social Security.   He could also, in theory, run as either an Independent, Dem or Republican, which makes for great blogging.

There is Franke Wilmer, a state legislator from Bozeman who ran for Congress in 2012.  She is a professor of political science at MSU, and very active in politics and knowledgeable on public policy.   John Lewis, Max Baucus’s senior aide, has also been mentioned.  Would his boss hand over to Lewis a piece of his giant campaign-cash nest-egg to help his right hand man?  Stephanie Schriock, who is the president of Emily’s list and a Butte native, has been mentioned.  Schriock could raise significant money, making her a very strong horse, perhaps as good as any we have–even despite the fact that she’s been gone from Montana while, and lives in the one place that you don’t want to live when you are considering running for office in Montana–Washington, DC.    Stephanie knows campaigning and fundraising, the two things usually missing when candidates make weak showings. Kim Gillan, a former state Senator from Billings, has valuable experience running against Daines in 2012.

There’s been talk of John Walsh, the current Lt. Governor and former national guard commander.  Walsh would make an interesting candidate.  Democrats with military backgrounds always present problem for Republicans, who like to warmonger but don’t like to serve, or who like to complain about deficits but also like to create wars while cutting taxes.  It’s hard to imagine why Walsh, who as LG makes a good salary and gets to work with Steve Bullock would want to do the DC thing. Walsh told Chuck Johnson that he hadn’t really thought about it at all, but did not deny interest.

Lee Newspapers is reporting that Amanda Curtis, a tough, smart young legislator from Butte, America, is taking a look at the house seat. Her name has also come up for the senate.   Curtis took transparency and making the legislature work for people to a new level –she made daily youtube videos during her first legislative session this winter, and they were phenomenal. She is a natural–a Wendy Davis type in MT– and we will hear more from her.

Kendall Van Dyk, unfortunately, has said he will not run for statewide office in 2014.  Given his record of winning tough races (he ousted Roy Brown from his senate seat in Billings), that’s a loss for us.  Monica Lindeen, the state auditor, likewise said this week that she does not want to go to DC.

On the GOP side, we have Ryan Zinke and Jon Sonju and Corey Stapleton.  Zinke’s career looked bright for a while, but it took a slight hit after he chose to run on the ticket with Neil Livingstone, whose gubernatorial campaign did not go so well (he was revealed to have authored a manual for business travelers about how to pick up hookers).   But Zinke has a powerhouse resume because he is not only a navy seal but was actually a member of Seal Team Six, in the decade before that outfit went in to get Bin Laden.  And he is rumored to have “shot many Arabs” during the Gulf War, a fact that will no doubt appeal to conservative voters in Montana.

Jon Sonju was Rick Hill’s running mate, so in theory, he has the same credential to run for Congress as Steve Daines did. Daines had been Roy Brown’s running mate in 2008.  Actually, Sonju got significantly more votes in 2012 than Daines did in ‘08.   The Sonju name is big in the Flathead Valley, where Sonju Industries, the family business, has long had a major presence.

Stapleton, who stepped up and took hard shots at Rick Hill during the gubernatorial primary but then came up short on election day, is a former naval officer and raised a decent amount of money in his race for Governor but lacked Hill’s name recognition.  This would be his third run for statewide office.  He ran for auditor once, too.

Speaking of Rick Hill, he too might run, I’m hearing his name from a few sources.  He would have to overcome the bad taste that he left in voters’ mouths when he took an illegal campaign contribution of $500,000, only to be ordered by the court to give it back.  That case is still being litigated, not a good thing for an aspiring US Senate candidate.  Court is not a good place to campaign from.  The only place worse is rehab.

Then, a trio rounding out the field of possibles, we have GOP legislators Scott Reichner of Big Fork, and Champ Edmunds of Missoula, and……drumroll please…..Krayton Kerns, the chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee and the biggest wingnut this side of the Mississippi.  Kerns has written that our society will soon collapse, because of the Obama presidency, and that we will all soon be without power, food or fuel and will have to take to the woods to survive.

 

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.

 

Stapleton Jumps In

The Most Inspirational Wrestler Corey Negro Caucus Joke" Stapleton is Running for Governor.

 

by Cowgirl

Corey Stapleton, former state senator from Billings, has thrown his hat into the ring for US Senate, for the right to challenge Max Baucus in the race.  Stapleton turned in a fair effort for Governor in 2012, but ran out of steam in the end.   In his gubernatorial campaign, Stapleton informed us that he served in the Navy and once was a wrestler.  The question is what, specifically, he will propose as a candidate or will criticize Baucus for.  His first day on the hustings produced bland, empty charges of “big deficits in Washington” and the like.  Generally speaking, the GOP field is shaping up to be seven dwarfs with no Snow White.  Champ Edmunds, Scott Reichner, Stapleton–all are state legislators with little to recommend them beyond their service in the legislature.   And as usual with Republican primaries in Montana, the field will likely consist of all, or nearly all, men. Continue reading

Livingstone Resurfaces

A small crowd of gun rights advocates came to the Capitol this weekend to protest Obama’s plans to crack down on gun violence in America.

And wouldn’t you know it, one of the speakers at the rally was Neil Livingstone, as you can see from this AP photo.  The GOP gubernatorial candidate lost in the primary in 2012 when it was revealed that he had once authored an instructional book for world business travelers which included a chapter on how to solicit a prostitute. Protect Yourself in an Uncertain World: A Comprehensive Handbook for your Personal and Business Security is available for $4.98 at Amazon. Continue reading

Cowgirl Blog’s Best and Worst of 2012

Happy New Year Cowgirl readers! Here are some of the highlights and lowlights that made 2012 so memorable–and these Cowgirl posts the year’s most read.

 

Best book by a GOP candidate:

When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neil Livingstone admitted to the Associated Press this year that he was once “a guest on a yacht full of hookers in Monte Carlo,” few people realized that Livingstone is actually a leading authority on such matters.

Indeed, it turns out that Livingstone actually published a detailed instructional manual in 1997, which provides candid advice for world business travelers on how to solicit a high-quality prostitute.

This is not a joke.  This valuable handbook appears as a chapter within a greater literary work by Livingstone, a book entitled Protect Yourself in an Uncertain World” (Amazon, $3.39 used).  You can read the Cowgirl Blog’s review of Livinstone’s masterpiece here.

 

Worst TEA Party call to action:

As a child I learned that empty vessels make the most noise.  That rings especially true this year after a Montana TEA Party leader called for a boycott of all news. The TEA Party leader said the boycott was needed because news agencies in Billings and elsewhere “are complicit in the destruction of America.”

 

Most hypocritical speech of 2012:

The award for this year’s Most Hypocritical Speech goes to Congressman Steve Daines. The congressman’s speech at the RNC lionized his ancestor as not being “Saved by Government” when that ancestor received a huge government handout in the form of a homestead under a federal program called the Homestead Act.

 

Best way to dispose of a TEA Party imbecile, for good:

Part of what has made Governor Brian Schweitzer one of the most popular governors in America is his ability to stand up to the TEA Party. This made How to Dispose of a Tea Party Imbecile, For Good one of 2012′s most popular posts.

 

Montana’s stalest political cliches:

Two hackneyed phrases sucked the last shred meaning out of Montana political pablum this year more than any others.

The phrase “double down” became so overused in Montana politics that anyone who hears or reads it now doubles over.  Enough already.

And any time you hear a politician propose, “a uniquely Montana solution,” notice that the cliche is never followed by an actual example of what that solution might be.  Everyone knows that the people spewing this nonsense are doing so to disguise the fact they they have no actual solutions to offer.  Offenders, you know who you are.

 

Best example of ridiculous Fox News lies:

Fox News this week called the Westboro Baptist Church a “left-wing cult” in their story about the group’s protests of the Newtown shooting victims’ funerals. As the Atlantic Wire asks, “if these people are “left-wing,” just how far “right” is Fox News?

 

Most outlandish conspiracy theories: 

A Montana legislator is behind both of 2012′s dumbest conspiracy theories.  Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) this year authored the conspiratorial screed on how birth control is the “death nail in the coffin of our Republic”. He also made national headlines after the Cowgirl blog uncovered his belief that the relocation of 60 bison — which he blamed on Walt Disney’s movie “Bambi” — could lead to $25 a gallon gas prices as part of a liberal government plot.

 

Worst movie of the year:

Kalispell movie producer Gerald Molen can’t figure out why the Academy overlooked this high quality of this piece of fine art.  Perhaps because is is actually one of the single most oppressively embarrassing movies ever made, reaching levels of galling unwatchability.  Meanwhile, the director and writer of the movie, and the author of the book on which it is based, has been caught with his pants down.