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
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
…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.
Montana’s 2012 elections will go down in history–but not in a good way. Rather, this cycle will be remembered for corruption, lies, deceptive ads, illegal donations, apparent illegal coordination with third-party groups, and secret corporate money.
The season was kicked off with TEA Party Republican legislator Jason Priest secretive “Montana Growth Network” buying the Supreme Court race for TEA Party judge Laurie McKinnon. Priest’s shadow group spent more on one saturation mailing then the conservative candidate he was backing had raised for her entire campaign.
McKinnon, who dog whistled at Lincoln Reagan dinners across Montana about “judicial activism,” “strict constructionist” and other conservative buzzwords, was able to defeat the leading candidate Elizabeth Best in the primary–in spite of reports of alleged Judicial Code of Ethics violations reported in Montana papers across the state. Priest’s ”Montana Growth Network” is thought to be one of the American Traditions Partnership’s many spinoffs.
Indeed no group has been more insidious than American Traditions Partnership in corrupting Montana’s elections. ATP’s launched it’s biggest attack on Steve Bullock. It mailed a fake newspaper to hundreds of thousands of Montanans depicting Bullock in a line-up of sex offenders.
In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, the PBS show Frontline has revealed the seedy underbelly of secret money in Montana’s elections, with a full-hour expose of Montana politics and this secretive right-wing group. Under state law, third party groups, the ones like American Tradition Partnership which spend masses of unregulated, unreported money, are legally barred from coordinating with candidates. But several legislative candidates and the ATP have been caught red handed, working together, in apparent violation of the law, the Associated Press reports today.
ATP even sent mailers impersonating unions– using the unions’ logos–to attack local candidates that the unions have actually endorsed.
ATP wasn’t alone, unknown corporate groups dumped half a million dollars in illegal into Rick Hill’s campaign coffers, forcing a judge to issue a restraining order against Hill to stop him from spending the illegal cash. The Montana GOP claims the donation came from the Republican Governor’s Association, but shortly before the RGA sent the dough to the Montana GOP, that an entity calling itself the ”Montana Law Foundation” sent $200,000 the the RGA. There’s only one reason that a fake Montana group would donate to the RGA instead of the Montana Republican Party and that’s to hide the donation’s source.
Tim Fox, the Montana Republican lunatic who is running for attorney general despite having never done anything other than defend drunk drivers and call for rape victims to have the rapists’ babies, got some national Republican donors to buy $700,000 of TV advertising on his behalf. Fox Fox refused to reveal his true extremists beliefs. Instead, he hid behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that his corporate bosses– including the Koch brothers, the insurance industry and the cigarette companies put up to hide the truth.
Montana’s U.S. Senate race has also drawn a deluge of dark money aimed at defeating Jon Tester and replacing him with scandal-plagued extremist Dennis Rehberg.
Tonight, Montana citizens will find out whether ATP and groups like it will completely own our state and federal governments–using lies, deception, illegal activity and corporate money to install their candidates into office, from a P.O. Box, without ever revealing who their donors really are.
In the can-too, can-not keep-the-cash debate, Democrat candidate for Attorney General Pam Bucy wins for integrity. She did the right thing by returning $35,000 donated by her party during the 6-day, campaign contribution free-for-all before the 9th Circuit Court called it off.
At first, her opponent, Republican Tim Fox, kept the $32,000 he received during this window. And, his campaign was quick to call Bucy’s ethical behavior a “desperate political stunt.” Since when is acting ethically a “desperate political stunt?” And what does it say about the character of someone who’d call ethical behavior a “desperate political stunt?”
Fox eventually gave back his money too, after seeing the political hot water Republican candidate for Governor Rick Hill was in for keeping the $500,000 he received. What is the Fox flip-flop but a “desperate political stunt?”
Key qualities of an Attorney General are ethics, integrity and fairness. Steve Bullock has excelled at these. Pam Bucy has shown she will do the same. Please vote for Pam Bucy for Attorney General and Steve Bullock for Governor.
GOP attorney general candidate Tim Fox has return $32,000 in illegal campaign contribution, the Associated Press reports. Fox returned the cash after the Pam Bucy for Attorney General Campaign filed a lawsuit to stop Fox from spending the illegal contributions and return the illegal cash.
This lawsuit follows on the heels of a ruling from a District Court judge yesterday that issued a restraining order, preventing Congressman Rick Hill from spending any more of the illegal funds he’s taken and canceling any advertisements he already placed with those dollars.
And so, with her lawsuit, Bucy has initiated a key development in the the gubernatorial race. That’s because if Fox understands the donations are legal, why is it that Hill, who attended law school “online,” is still fighting to keep and spend his illegal donations.
In his most recent campaign finance report filed by Fox, he revealed he had taken a contribution of $32,000 from the Montana Republican Party–well in excess of the legal contribution limits laid out in Montana law. The origins of this contribution are still unknown.
In addition to the contribution from the MT GOP, Fox also received 12 other illegal contributions, ranging in size from $60 to $5000 over the legal contribution limits in the state.
Under Montana Code Annotated 13-37-216, a candidate for Attorney General may take no more than $310 in aggregate from an individual and $8150 in aggregate from a political party, per contested election.
It’s time for national women’s groups to shift their focus to state races.
With less than four weeks left until election day, Romney/Ryan’s disdain for women’s rights and support for forced births for rape victims are of understandable concern to national women’s health groups because of future Supreme Court appointments.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, national Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and EMILY’s List seem to be concentrated on the outcome in the presidential and congressional elections. But races for governor, attorney general, and state legislature are arguably more important.
According to a recent report compiled by NARAL Pro-Choice America, states are ground zero of the War on Women.
No matter how you look at it, anti-choice and anti-women measures at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. The Guttmacher Institute reports that “in the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states.”
They aren’t just targeting abortion either. Access to birth control and preventative care, equal insurance prices, and equal pay for women are also under attack.
Many of these provisions are laws passed by wingnut legislatures and signed by anti-woman governors. In Montana, legislators introduced a record number of anti-choice bills. Thankfully, we had a democratic Governor who vetoed these bills. Rick Hill meanwhile wants forced births for rape victims. He would sign it into law – along with dozens of other anti-woman bills – during his first few months in office.
Anti-choice attorney generals are now discovering they have an enormous amount of power over women’s rights and are ramping up their attacks.
Attorney General Ken Cucinelli is in the news for forcing 20 new medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers - even though abortion is one of the safest and most regulated medical procedures. If Virgina’s AG has his way, most of the state’s abortion clinics could close. In Wisconsin the War on Women’s foot soldiers are asking the attorney general to bar medical schools from teaching how to perform abortions. Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is featured in GQ magazine in an article that labels him “the most aggressive abortion litigator in the land.” The nine-page article carries the headline, “This man will do anything to stop abortion.”
If Tim Fox, who supports forced birth for rape victims, is elected he’ll start implementing this garbage in Montana immediately.
Sure, there are some grassroots state organizations doing what they can to influence these races, but without much money. National GOP and corporate PACs meanwhile are dumping hundreds of thousands into state races at an alarming rate. Clearly, the right knows where the fight is. Unless national women’s groups realize it–and shift their focus to states, now–it will be too late.
The Washington DC group known as the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is spending $700,000 of corporate cash to try to defeat Pam Bucy. But they couldn’t find a source to back up the lies they are spewing forth in their TV ads. So, they simply made one up. They cite a Great Falls Journal article (there’s no such newspaper) as evidence that “Pam Bucy favors job-killing Obamacare.” Here’s the screenshot:
Also, there is nothing in any paper, real or imagined, supporting the idea that Bucy “favors Obamacare.” The only time Bucy has opined on any matter related to healthcare reform was when she opposed Montana’s joining of a lawsuit against the Act, on grounds that it would have been a waste of taxpayer money (which it would).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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