Former GOP Congressman and failed gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill has taken to the internet to attack a Butte math teacher who is running for U.S. Senate. Hill wrote on his Facebook page that state Rep. Amanda Curtis has a “course [sic] nature.”
Presumably Hill is referring to Curtis’s popular down-to-earth and heartfelt YouTube videos. She made these every day during the 2013 legislative session for her constituents, something Rick Hill would never have stooped to do.
Congressman Hill, during his tenure in the nation’s capital, was known for being something of a diva. Hill was rated by George magazine as the “second most-difficult boss” in all of congress. [Source: The Associated Press, “Magazine Finds Hill Second Most Difficult Boss in Congress,” June 19, 1999.]
To earn this dubious distinction, George noted that the Congressman:
–“angrily hurled a letter opener at an aide”
–Shouted: “I DON’T EAT DELI!!” to a staffer who brought him the wrong sandwich
–“fills some afternoons playing Free Cell, a computer game”’
And Hill went through three chiefs of staff, three legislative directors and three schedulers in two years.
As a math teacher, Amanda certainly doesn’t spend several months a year golfing at private clubs in California and Arizona (as Hill does), and she likely has enjoyed the occasional deli sandwich without turning up her nose or throwing a fit. If that makes her “coarse” then so are most of the rest of us. As a state legislator, she speaks directly to her constituents in YouTube videos for everybody instead of only to a select few at fancy dinners paid for by corporate lobbyists. She understands the key pocketbook concerns of most Montanans and presents a striking contrast to most members of congress. I think most people would call that a good thing.
The votes are in and the favorites generally won their races last night. Walsh, Lewis, Zinke, Daines.
Resources were mattered. Zinke and Walsh had them, and it made the difference. Matt Rosendale was a bit surprising given that he spent about even with Zinke, but in the end, in a crowded field full of aspiring lunatics, the moderate candidate will often win. Just ask Rick Hill or Mitt Romney. That’s an important reality for the Tea Party to grapple with, which is that they have very primary insurgent victories for all the trouble they try to cause. This year, oddly, it was centrists who tried to act like Tea Partiers–Rick Hill, for example–but even that didn’t work.
John Bohlinger put up a good fight but in the end, Walsh stayed the course and delivered a resounding victory, as one would expect a sitting Senator to do. Bohlinger was always facing a peculiar challenge of having to persuade voters that he is no longer a Republican, and that, plus a lack of funds or organization, probably weighed him down heavily. Walsh will now have to amp it up. Nate Silver is giving him only a fractional chance at winning the race. I personally think Daines is beatable, because he is a member of Congress polling below 40%.
John Lewis gave away a surprising 40% to John Driscoll, but Lewis saved his money, kept his powder dry, and now has some good ammo to begin the shooting war with Ryan Zinke. That will be an interesting affair. Expect a swiftboating of Zinke, given his questionable use of funding and the strange ambiguity surrounding his military record, which even his fellow Seals are talking about. Meanwhile, expect Zinke to try to hang Obamacare around Lewis’s neck, through the Baucus connection. This is a campaign that will be won by the smarter, savvier operation, I believe. Lewis is probably the Dem’s best chance in a decade to recapture this seat, although this is simply by virtue of the fact that he is a legitimate candidate. None of the nominees since 2002 has even raised real money or mounted a serious campaign. That’s going to change now. And remember the best thing that Democrats always have going for them: Republicans in Montana seem to be getting better and better at losing races they should win. They are simply not good at modern political strategy.
Also, good news in Ravalli County: the two wing-nut county commissioners and a treasurer who have turned Ravalli into a statewide Tea Party farce, all incumbents, were sent packing in the GOP primary. The TEA Partier in the Bozeman County Commission race, Barb Blum, also lost in the primary contest for that open commission seat. In Lake County, TEA Partier Rory Horning failed to unseat incumbent county commissioner Bill Barron. Bad news in Broadwater County, where a top two style non-partisan county commission election sent forward not just the popular Laura Obert but also TEA Party bigot Tim Ravndal, who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays. Ravndal was kicked out of the Helena TEA Party and formed his own new conservative TEA Party. (If this were a Lee Newspapers blog, you’d be reading how these commission races show equal wins for TEA Partiers and main street Republicans.)
In the Public Service Commission race, Brad Johnson easily Derek Skees in the GOP primary. He will now face Galen Hollenbaugh. Skees is a Flathead County agitator whose base constituency is made up of skinheads and recently arrived bible-belt transplants. These nuts once thought they had a glorious Tea Party future but it’s kind of crumbled now. Skees has now been beaten by a guy who ran his last race for public office out of a rehab facility.
It 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 twoseparate 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.
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.
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.”Tweet
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 →Tweet
—GOP legislative candidate Matthew Monforton. Since Monforton wrote a letter to the editor in the Bozeman Chronicle this week denigrating the elected body he himself is seeking to join as a “parliament of whores,” he is clearly is this week’s winner.
If the GOP-TEA controlled legislature is full of people he calls “whores,” why does Monforton want to be part of it?
Monforton waxes apoplectic against the “whores” elected by the Montana Republican Party in this letter, yet has he accepted the Republican Party’s cash Continue reading →Tweet
When religious-right lobbyist Harris Himes stepped up to the podium in a legislative committee in 2009 and said “I stand before you a potential prison inmate,” it was perhaps the truest statement he ever made.
The anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority pastor from Ravalli County was convicted last week of defrauding a member of his congregation out of his life savings and could face up to 30 years in prison.
Himes, who represented himself in court, claimed he was innocent of the charges, calling them a “witch hut” trumped up by “gay and pro-choice activists.” He told the jury pool that “I am a fundamentalist, Bible-thumping conservative Christian,” and that his trial was part of a war on Christianity.
Rev. Himes had claimed at the start of his trial that he would be calling some “15 and 20 witnesses” to support his case including many who would fly in from Mexico to do so. But that apparently didn’t end up panning out. As the Bitterroot Star reported, “Judge Loren Tucker, who has appeared clearly exasperated by Himes at various points in the trial, asked Himes what he proposed to do with the jury’s time with no witnesses to testify.”
Himes also argued his case in the court of public opinion. In a KGVO talk radio interview during the trial, Himes said he believed that children in public schools were destined to go to hell. He later went back on the same program to reiterate that what he meant to say was that public schools “jeopardize the salvation of a child.”
He lobbied heavily in the legislature for bills to repeal the ban against discrimination against gays, and also for bills to eliminate Montana’s constitutional right to privacy. During the 2011 legislative session, he even told legislators that he believes gay people should be put to death.
Himes has also led or worked closely with several religious-right lobbying groups in Montana including leading the Montana Values Alliance, serving as state coordinator for the Montana Eagle Forum, a stint as president of the Montana Family Coalition–all groups that worked closely with the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Catholic Conference. He has been a featured speaker at Montana Republican party trainings and events.
Indeed, Himes has had quite a following among Montana’s hard right wing. Dallas Erickson, another religious right activist in Montana, compared him to Jesus Christ in a recent op-ed.
Harris Himes’ novel is called “Stand”
And many do not know that Himes is actually an author. His fictional work “Stand” is available on Amazon.com. Surprisingly no one has yet written a review of “Stand”, but here is an excerpt of this future blockbuster:
Satan s face was ugly.
“WE MUST WIN THIS BATTLE WITH GOD!” he thundered.
“WHAT DO I WANT?”
“THEIR SOULS AND THEIR SPIRITS!
SPIRISOULSPIRSOUL!” screamed his Shades.
Satan seeks to destroy all men and women. But the Christian Church stands in his way. Maybe.
Pivotal wars. Abortion. Marriage. Islam. America’s sovereignty.
The page-turner is “aimed at galvanizing the church and her pastors and priests and leaders to regain the moral leadership in the public forum which they once held, dating from before the Revolution—to become God’s Watchmen, warning the people, before it’s too late. ”
Himes reportedly spent two years writing the novel. But if sales remain flat in the near future, he shouldn’t worry too much. He’s could have have up to 30 years of hard time to rewrite it soon.Tweet
The news this week is that Corey Stapleton is jumping ship to the US House race after receiving word from Steve Daines, or a Daines team member, that Daines will be running for Senate. Stapleton had declared his status as a Senate candidate earlier in the year.
Stapleton has raised an impressive amount of money so far, $230,000, but has squandered most of it. The newspaper today reports that he only has $80,000 left, which he will transfer to his new campaign. What he’s spent $150,000 on is anybody’s guess.
The better news is that there might be as many as a dozen GOP candidates in the primary for House, clawing at each other, accusing each other of of not being “conservative enough,” and generally tearing each other down to the point that none will have any money or credibility by the time one of them is nominated in June of 2014. Such a scenario will reflect what happened to Rick Hill in 2012, who was left limp and broke after emerging from a bruising primary in which, ironically enough, Stapleton opened fire at him with negative campaign ads.
Stapleton his now citing his work with the Martz administration, in canceling a computer project, as an event in his professional life that qualifies him to be congressman. Not exactly a big-picture type of theme for a candidacy. His Wikipedia pages have also been interesting.
But Stapleton will be strong in Billings, having run many campaigns there. Sonju and Zinke and Scott Reichner will fight for the Flathead Valley vote, Champ Edmunds will fight for wherever he is from (near Area 51, perhaps), if anybody there even knows who he is or that he even exists. Brad Johnson, who ran his last race for statewide office while housed in an alcohol rehab facility, says he, too, might be running for the house.
Jon Lewis, Max Baucus’s chief aide, is now the only candidate on the Dem side, and we will see whether his Max Baucus pedigree brings him money.
Stapleton, by the way, said that he wants to be in Congress to stop Obamacare, prevent the raising of the debt ceiling, and effectuate other such obstructionism. And, he said that he would like to be a congressman, especially on the Syria issue, because he would have access to the intelligence briefings from the Pentagon. God help us all.
No word yet about John Walsh or John Bohlinger, and their plans to run for the U.S. Senate against the presumptive candidate Daines.