The Bozeman Chronicle’s Troy Carter has the story, which includes what the notoriously conservative-biased Chamber of Commerce poll found out about Montanans’ views of extending coverage to 70,000 working poor Montanans. Go read it.
A poll was published earlier this week by the Gravis Marketing firm showing Ryan Zinke and Tim Fox edging out Steve Bullock in 2016. This poll is not to be trusted.
Gravis marketing is like a broken clock that shows the correct time twice a day. It was a laughable organization for its conservative bias for a number of years up until 2016, when it’s conservative bias enabled it to be accurate because the electorate ended up being more conservative than anyone had envisioned. That, and also consider that the poll last week did not include a Libertarian in the survey.
No doubt Republicans will be emboldened by this automated push-button phone poll, but take it to the bank: a real pollster’s numbers will look nothing like what Gravis has produced.
On a related subject, I’ve now conversed with several reporters as well as sources high up in Montana democratic politics, who all say that Greg Gianforte is going to take a pass in 2016 and will not be running for governor, although nobody seems to be able to point to a reason. We can all look forward to hearing more about this.
In 2012 when Steve Bullock was campaigning to become governor, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) raised large amounts of secretive corporate money, to run attack ads against Bullock, smearing him by claiming that he supported Obamacare and opposed coal (neither true). Last week, the RGA accidentally leaked a document showing who its secretive donors are. Very few surprises, in general. Oil companies, pharmaceutical companies and the NRA, for example.
But among the the platinum-level donors are Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon, and Aetna, all of whom have significant business not only in Montana, but with the state itself.
One wonders whether the executives of these companies will be repentant, or at least embarrassed, about the revelation that they funded nasty ads against Bullock.Tweet
A rare, intimate variety of democracy will take its course Saturday morning at the county fairgrounds in Helena, Montana, when the Democratic Party chooses a nominee to replace John Walsh.
Nobody in Montana politics can recall anything quite like this event, so it should make for good theater. Oddly, the proceedings will be both less and more democratic than a normal primary. A small group of party officers from around the state–no more than 175 delegates and possibly as few as 50– will choose the nominee in a caucus. That’s a lot of power in a small group. However, the two most powerful figures in the party–the sitting Democratic senator and governor–don’t appear at this point to have expressed a preference. Which means that Saturday might be, for lack of a better term, a free-for-all. And that’s a good thing, and for bloggers especially.
A candidate that breaks through and excite voters is urgently required. The Governor vetoed 71 bills last session, each bill more idiotic than the next, but if we lose seats he might be unable to sustain his vetoes. Thus the Senate race is perhaps less important than the state legislature in my opinion. Please consult this list of what they’ve proposed in recent years. Greatest hits include House Bill 549, “A Bill To declare that Global Warming is Good for Montana.” This season they are proposing a law that will let sheriffs arrest anyone who tries to implement the Affordable Care Act. There is also a Tea Party-generated ballot measure this year to make voter registration more difficult. Democrats need a showing at the polls to kill it.
Three types of candidates could in theory present themselves on Saturday–big, medium and small. The “big” category, unfortunately, is an empty set. It consists only of two people who could immediately put Daines on the run–Bullock and Schweitzer–both very popular, but both of whom have said they won’t be running.
“Medium” includes politicians whose names many Montana voters are familiar with. But since every current statewide office-holder already sent their regrets (as has Nancy Keenan, former NARAL Pro-Choice America chief and former state superintendent of Montana schools), there’s only one medium sized candidate: John Bohlinger, the former Lt. Governor under Schweitzer. Bohlinger ran and lost to Walsh in the primary but he blames the loss on Harry Reid for having anointed Walsh and sent resources his way (Reid called Bohlinger earlier this year and tried to push him out of the race). There are many party activists who enjoy Bohlinger, but a few who must be persuaded that he no longer harbors any affiliation to Republican causes.
The remainder of the candidates have small followings even if they have big potential. They largely unknown to most Montana voters and include three state legislators–Dave Wanzenried (trucking company employee from Missoula) and Amanda Curtis (teacher from Butte)–as well as Dirk Adams (Wilsall), a former mortgage banker and now rancher who ran against Bohlinger and Walsh in the democratic Party but got only 15% to Bohlinger’s 25% and Walsh’s 60%.
Others have made oblique statements that fall short of committing to a candidacy, or have tried to get surrogates to tweet things like “I’m hearing that so and so is getting into the race.” But this does not count. If you want it, stand up and say so.Tweet
With the announcement that John Walsh has departed the Senate race, the Democratic party is planning a date TBD next week as the nominating convention for Walsh’s replacement. The “central committee” will decide the matter. This group is composed of 175 or so party officers such as county chairs and vice chairs, all members of the executive board, presidents of each chartered Democratic organization, and the elected positions of Lt. Gov, Clerk of the Supreme Court, and Public Service Commissioner. They will descend upon Helena and convene at a TBD location and time probably in the next week to choose a replacement candidate.
Lots of rumors so far as to who will show up to make their case to the delegates, but so far only three candidates have actually said publicly that they will try for the nomination: Dirk Adams, Franke Wilmer and Dave Wanzenried. Two of them, Wilmer and Wanzenried, have excellent legislative careers and Dirk Adams was one of the few who stepped up to run in the primary.
Brian Schweitzer sent his regrets today; Nancy Keenan, widely speculated as the leading replacement candidate, is on record saying that she is not interested. Monica Lindeen also declined as has Denise Juneau.
One name not recently discussed in any great length, but which bears consideration or at least musing because he is one of only two people who could start out in the lead against Daines, is Steve Bullock. He’s 20 points more popular than Daines and even if he lost he’d still be employed. But alas Bullock poured water on this idea today. He’s not in the mix.
Many tips have come in today to my tip line about other names, and there has been rampant twitter speculation about many others. These include John Bohlinger, Linda McCulloch, Carl Borgquist (Bozeman), Ed Smith (Helena), Pam Bucy (Helena) Amanda Curtis (Butte), Mike Phillips (Bozeman), former Schweitzer staffers Dan Villa (Anaconda) and Eric Stern (Helena), Carol Williams (Missoula), Anna Whiting Sorrell (St. Ignatius), Diane Smith (Whitefish), Jacquie Helt (Helena), Elizabeth Best (Great Falls), Casey Schreiner (Great Falls), Kim Abbott (Helena), and Mike Cooney (Helena).
This as you can see is a wide open contest, and the convention promises to be a unique day in Montana political history. So stay tuned and enjoy the theater. Let me know what you’re hearing about who is running in the comments.
Urges other Montana Communities to Get on with it and Do the Right Thing by Ending Legalized Discrimination
Great news. The City of Bozeman tonight finally passed a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Here’s what Montana Governor Steve Bullock had to say:
“Tonight, Bozeman has shown important leadership in protecting their residents and visitors from discrimination. Discrimination is bad for the state’s economy and businesses, as well as contrary to the freedoms we expect as Montanans. I encourage other Montana communities to follow suit in the near future.”
(The imbeciles on the Billings City Council should take note.)
Helena, Butte, and Missoula have already passed non-discrimination ordinances.Tweet
This whole thing started out as an objective (as much as I ever can be) discussion of how every story that was shuffling around the Montana dailies websites deemed it appropriate to discuss the new same-sex marriage ban challenge without including any of the language that Governor Bullock sent out in support of just such a lift.
I had salient points about LGBT rights in Montana and the history of the legislators for whom it was deemed safe to engage with those issues, my issues, because they themselves were gay or lesbian. I had cogent thoughts about why leaving out that statement of support was damaging to the narrative and message because it removes a very prominent figure in this discussion from the discussion which relegates such a powerful message to the same status as the list of who got appointed to Capitol Complex Board (look it up).
But it is important. It’s important to LGBT Montanans. It’s important to the #MTpol community. It’s important to me. This is THE public figure in Montana saying that the way a BS law in my state treats the community is crap and needs to be changed.
There have been (and are) plenty of openly, proudly gay and lesbian members of the #MTLeg and they have done great things. They’ve made impassioned pleas and taken historic actions in returning respect and full service of law to LGBT Montanans. Add that to the thousands of employees, supporters, and peers that work every day to continue those motions forward, and it’s really heartening. It almost makes you feel like there’s a chance the State of Montana respects us.
But for every one of those greats moments, there are hundreds more that take place over conference tables, microbrews, text message strings, and strategy meetings where a heterosexual public figure says, “I’m really in support of [pro-LGBT measure], but you know, I just can’t [vote, say, do anything] because [it’s too polarizing, it’ll isolate the moderates, I can’t find my metaphorical balls].” If people handed me a Skittle every time they shook my hand or pulled me aside and stage whispered me some version of that line, I’d be Willy Wonka. Hell, I’d probably be the Mars Company too.
The Montana newspapers’ decision to not include any piece of that supportive statement in their ‘breaking story’ is just another Skittle. It’s the sweeping pro-LGBT stances under the rug until one more heterosexual decides it’s cool to be down with the gays. I mean maybe it was all the plan of the Governor’s team to keep the comments on down-low so the papers didn’t catch wind of it. Though, I doubt that. It’s on Twitter.
Time has come for MT to recognize & celebrate two people who love one another & want to spend their lives together http://t.co/KKQK1hHc1u
— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) May 21, 2014
It’s freaking Facebook official.
In fairness, every story does quote the lovely people from the ACLU about the importance of the filing and that’s great, really. Please quote them. And MHRN. And the Pride Foundation. All full of well-spoken, highly-educated and passionate people who can effectively discuss policy and humanity with ease and confidence.
But, amazing as they are, these people are already part of the narrative. In many cases, they are the narrative. Mainstream media intentionally leaving out a new, strong voice of support perpetuates a version of the narrative that the gay issues belong in the hands of the gays and are only cared about by the gays and their already established allies. Not including or seeking out statements from public figures on these issues is lazy and hurtful. It’s not biased or unbalanced to include that kind of information, it’s accurate reporting. If you want balance, then quote some TEA Party-er who thinks this will degrade the family unit (heck, Jason Priest’s thoughts on that are court records), quote GOP leadership, quote literally ANYONE from the Montana Family Foundation mailing list. They’re not shy. Really. Ask Bozeman.
But, seriously, stop ignoring statements of support on these issues. All it does is make it okay for others to hide behind closed doors with their support. It makes sure that the only voices in this narrative are the gays and their incredibly vocal detractors. LGBT Montana’s aren’t hidden, so their supporters shouldn’t be either. We’re out. We’re elected. We’re employed. I’m just as much Montana as everyone else, and I’m seriously sick of Skittles.Tweet
The media is abuzz today because they have discovered a few memos that Bullock received from his staff, advising him on how to handle the press in the lead-up to the appointment of John Walsh to fill Max Baucus’s seat. In the memos, Bullock is advised not to be drawn into having to explain himself before the actual appointment, but to wait until after Walsh is appointed to explain his choice to the press. And these documents also show that Bullock had made up his mind about Walsh a week or so before appointing him.
The Republicans have seized the story and are trying to claim that this is a major revelation of wrongdoing or mischief. And the press believes, without explanation, that it is newsworthy that Bullock receives strategic advice from the people who work for him.
All of this is very silly. First, Bullock was allowed to make his personal decision how and when he chose, and share it at a time, and in a manner, of his choosing. True, memos on political strategy should be written sparingly (or perhaps created orally) so that the press and opponents cannot make hay over them precisely like they are now doing. But this story is nothing more than a way for the press to make a big deal about very little. The fact that a governor is getting advice on paper from his staff is nothing new or unusual and the advice was pretty sound. And no, contrary to what the GOP seems to think, Bullock did not violate any law, rule, or public trust by making his decision in private and revealing it on the day that he made the announcement.Tweet
It’s a big weekend for Democrats in more ways than one. Tonight is the Mansfield Metcalf Dinner, the annual soiree at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds at which people drink, eat, and cheer on their favorite democratic politicians.
Make sure to look for me with my spurs and my chaps, and my donkey pin.
Tonight’s guest speaker is Cecile Richards, who is the head of Planned Parenthood of America. This is a good choice as it shows the that Democrats are becoming more comfortable in recognizing how important their stance on medical privacy really is. And her appearance could not be more timely, coming on the heels of a horrible incident of vandalism of an abortion clinic in Montana.
Others on the list include John Walsh, our new senator, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. And don’t forget the popular Ed Smith, the clerk of the Supreme Court, as well as state House and Senate Leaders Jon Sesso and Chuck Hunter. Bring your money but don’t drink too much, especially if you are giving a speech. Hopefully, we can at least be assured there will be no poetry.
Even bigger news occurred Friday, when a number of politicians entered some of the top races. John Bohlinger officially entered the race against Senator Walsh. John Driscoll, the nominee for U.S. House in 2008, filed to run in the Democratic House primary against John Lewis. And Drew Turiano, a white supremacist, has filed to run in the House Race as well (the GOP always tries to have at least one white supremacist on the ballot). And Elsie Arntzen made her candidacy official, too. She presents a stark contrast to the other candidates in this crowded primary (and most other GOP primaries), and was immediately endorsed by Rick Hill.
The Bohlinger deal is interesting since he had given indications, around the time Walsh was appointed Senator, that he would bow out. But now he’s in it for certain. The 77-year-old Republican turned Democrat is a former Lt. Governor, former clothing merchant from Billings and former Marine boxer, and is well known among voters and has a freewheeling style and says what’s on his mind, contrasting to the more measured Walsh. Bohlinger has not raised much money and Walsh has raised a good clip (half a million or more), but that stuff matters only when the money is spent. We shall see how and when (or if) the Walsh campaign chooses to spend some of its war chest in the primary against Bohlinger. Bohlinger, meanwhile, is trying to fashion himself as a progressive, outsider alternative to Walsh. He says Walsh was anointed by Harry Reid and others in Washington.
By the way, word on the street is that Bohlinger has been denied a speaking spot on the program tonight. That would be okay, I suppose, if the rule were that only incumbents or unopposed candidates got to speak. But that’s not the case. We will see if Bohlinger causes a fuss (or even attends). We might even be lucky enough to hear from his and outspoken political advisor on the subject. I can’t wait. Dirk Adams, by the way, is also not listed on the program.
Nor is Driscoll, the new House candidate. But that is definitely a good thing because he is the Democratic equivalent of a Tea Party imbecile (if such a thing could even be said to exist). He has said that he plans to run for office without raising any money. We’ll see how that works out for him. Driscoll also claims the odd distinction of being the only Democrat in Montana history (so far as I can tell) to win a nomination and then immediately endorse his Republican opponent. As the Democrat nominee in 2010 he endorsed Rehberg. That’s reason enough not to listen to anything he has to say and to let your Democratic friends know that Driscoll is simply a fraud.
You can buy a ticket at the door, and don’t miss it: 6-9 P.M. Eat, drink and be merry, and cheer on (and donate to) our candidates. And if at any time during the festivities it gets slow or boring, just remind yourself what the Republican dinner must be like.Tweet
The big news this week is that Greg Gianforte, the ultra-right-wing billionaire from Bozeman, is giving indications that he might run for office in the near future.
Gianforte founded the high-tech computer software firm RightNow Technologies, and sold it for few billion dollars in 2011. Interestingly, this means that Gianforte could be one of the first Tea Partiers in Montana history who knows how to turn on a computer.
Gianforte was profiled generously in today’s Great Falls Tribune, in a piece that openly promotes Gianforte’s new “jobs” website. In creating this site, Gianforte is trying to raise his profile in the political arena, taking a page from Steve Daines’s playbook.
Daines (who was Gianforte’s Vice President at RightNow Technologies) launched his political career by creating a website entitled “GiveItBack.com” which urged the state of Montana to return the budget surplus to taxpayers. It was an idiotic, childish idea like Continue reading Tweet