Tag Archives: Steve Daines

ANALYSIS: Curtis Puts Daines on Defense in U.S. Senate Debate

Today, it was made quite clear why Steve Daines has sought to desperately to avoid debating democrat Amanda Curtis in the U.S. Senate race. Tonight’s debate was Daines’ to lose.  And he did.

Daines’ strategy throughout the campaign (and indeed throughout his tenure as a member of Congress) has been to try to hide his true views, beliefs, and acts from Montana voters–all while voting as Montana’s most extreme-right member of Congress in state history.  But tonight, Amanda Curtis made sure the TEA Party congressman had to answer for some of his ideological oddities–and his actual voting record–and it was quite a treat to watch.

Daines looked visibly shaken several times after he tried to answer a question, only to have Curtis, a high school math teacher and popular state legislator, point out how his voting record contradicted his claims.  Daines has never had an opponent go toe to toe with him before, and he was clearly not comfortable being called out for his true views.

Take, for example, the statement Daines made in answer to Dennison’s question about how banning abortion served the people of Montana.  Daines tried to say he supports access to birth control, but Curtis pointed out that Daines actually voted to ban it.  In response, Daines awkwardly muttered something about how he hopes his daughter has access to birth control “some day.”  I guess he means some day after he is no longer in Congress.  It was a very strange moment in the debate.

Obviously the new GOP thing is for their candidates to try to hide their anti-birth control history and message – clearly they’ve realized they can’t win otherwise.  Daines tried to make us believe he supported birth control, but he couldn’t quite pull it off.

Even if he hadn’t flubbed the question tonight, women are figuring out that that Daines has made repeated attempts to take away our rights as women to make our own healthcare decisions, outlaw birth control, eliminate prevention efforts and authorize the IRS to audit rape victims. In the past, Daines has also tried to claim that he supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but of course what he does not mention is that he voted against funding the same domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs he touts.

Another golden moment in the debate came when Curtis pointed out that we need a better representative in the Senate than someone who throws tantrums with the whole government shutdown and ACA repeal idiocy. Surprisingly, Daines refused to say he wouldn’t vote to shutdown the government again – even after being asked the question twice.  Even after it was pointed out by Curtis that Daines refused to say he wouldn’t shut down the government again.

I was surprised that the TEA Party Congressman ran from his own anti-Affordable Care Act votes – claiming he hadn’t voted for 40 of the 50 some ACA repeal measures the U.S. house passed.   Daines said he only voted for repeal once.  Which is easily disproven. Daines himself has bragged about his repeal votes in his press releases and public statements, but I guess he forgot about that – or hopes we did. Curtis didn’t.

It’s interesting also to see how defensive Daines was on the GOP boondoggle conceived by TEA Party GOP vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder and TEA Party Rep. Kerry White - the public land grab scheme they passed unanimously at the GOP convention.    The GOP legislators’ proposal was so unpopular that it must have started to hurt their federal candidates in the polls, because now we see both Zinke and Daines running from an idea they both have publicly supported.

Perhaps it was Zinke and Daines who convinced the TEA party imbeciles in the Montana legislature to nix their own proposal to try to cauterize the wound they inflicted on their own party.

Amanda Curtis and John Lewis have both been successful in putting their opponents on defense simply by shining a light on what they really stand for.  And this strategy I suspect will continue to close the ever narrowing gap in the polls.

I’m interested to see what others who heard the debate think.  Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a good factcheck of the statements Daines made tonight online here.

Live Blog of the Curtis Daines Debate

5:57 pm I had thought that Twitter put live blogging out of business, but others say Twitter in Montana political circles is still a tiny niche audience and live blogging reaches more people – would be interested in what readers think.  You can follow the debate here for regular updates.

6:02 Audience asked not to clap, hiss or boo.  Amanda Curtis introduced first as a Butte High School math teacher and Montana legislator.

6:04 pm Debate moderators introduced: Mike Dennison of Lee Newspapers, Jackie Yamanaka of Yellowstone Public Radio, and TV reporter and political director for KXLH, Sanjay Talwani.

6:06 pm First question on ISIS – Curtis says we can’t be the world’s police and we must ask where the money will come from

Daines claims the president lacks strategy and needs approval of congress. Daines tries to say the response to ISIS is “secure our borders.”

Daines asked how we will pay for ISIS threat but avoids question with “secure the homeland” platitudes.

6:08 pm  Daines asked if he would shut down the government again. Tries to blame president Obama for government shut down. Says it “takes two” to shut down the government. Total cop-out. Tries to justify it by saying he didn’t take a salary during that time.

Curtis reminds audience that Daines voted for shutdown and is so out of touch he can afford to go without pay which is something most Montanans can’t do. Gets audible agreement from audience.

Daines asked again to answer the question of whether he would vote for the shut down again.  Curtis points out that Daines didn’t say he would not vote for a shutdown again.

 

6:14 pm Talwani question for Daines on repealing Affordable Care Act and replacing it with “tort reform”  Will this really help people get health insurance?

 

Daines says response to health care is “tax deductions” and tort reform to save money.  Also Health Savings Accounts – doesn’t mention these mean nothing without health coverage.  Daines also tries to say that ACA should be repealed because not everyone will have insurance coverage even though it passed.  Makes no sense.

 

6:19 pm Sanjay T. points out  in a question to Daines: if people can’t afford health insurance, can these people afford health savings accounts – will they benefit from tax cuts?

6:22 pm  Dennison asks Daines about his statement that abortion should be illegal in most cases.  His true position is that he opposes abortion in ALL cases, even when a woman is raped.

Curtis nails Daines for voting for a bill to ban most forms of birth control.

Daines is saying something weird about how the first amendment supposedly limits birth control. As Curtis points out, Daines is saying he supports Hobby Lobby decision to let corporations decide which women get birth control and which do not.  Well done Curtis.

6:28 pm Debate is half over – taking a 1 minute break.

6:30 pm – Odd Question from Jay Kohn about whether “one of us” means a dumber U.S. Senate.  Curtis points out that the founders did not intend corporations to run the U.S. Senate and Curtis says you don’t need to be a silver-spoon fed politician to be a good senator.

Follow up – asked if Curtis has the experience to be a good U.S. Senator.  Curtis says she has dedicated her life to education because it is the pathway out of poverty. Daines is saying something weird about his grandparent’s high school mascot….trying to relate to normal people I guess after Amanda’s comments about relating to working families.  Not really impressed by this pathetic response by Daines.

6:34 pm Daines called on carpet by Jay Kohn for touting a bill in one of his campaign ads that has never even passed – his so-called balanced budget act.  In my opinion, it is disingenuous to take credit for a bill that never passed.  As Jay said – “isn’t this just a symbolic bill with no teeth?”  Kohn calls the ad false.

Glad to see moderator holding Daines accountable.

6:36 pm Jackie Y. asks Daines about what his real concrete specific Medicare reform proposals are.  Daines is saying he supports “reforms” but is not saying what they are.  He again avoids the question.  It’s becoming a theme tonight (Daines avoiding answering.)

6:39 pm Daines claims the Affordable Care Act harms in-home health care for seniors, says he knows this anecdotally.  Curtis reminds audience that Daines has a 10% (abysmal) rating with seniors groups.

6:40 pm Dennison to Curtis - Why should I support you if I’m a gun owner?  Curtis points out she does not opposed guns and was just out shooting recently.  Daines goes all TEA Party liberty and freedom language on guns, says guns are not about hunting….

6:41 pm Curtis points out that Daines has lowest rating on conservation/public lands of any politician ever in MT – a 4%.

6:42 pm Talwani asks Daines why he refuses to compromise on public lands solution proposed by Tester that would result in logging and timber jobs – a solution that can actually pass.  Daines says Tester’s bill is “a good start.”  But he doesn’t say why he wouldn’t vote for it.

Curtis said she supports Forest Jobs and Recreation Act as a true compromise by Tester.  Says Daines didn’t support the Montana solution and instead is forcing a DC solution Montanans don’t back.

6:46 pm Jackie Y.:  What do you think should be done on immigration to protect public health?  Curtis supports doctors and agencies working to protect us from biological threats. Points out that Daines voted for shutdown, which harmed these agencies.

Daines repeats “secure the borders” pablum again.  Starts telling some anecdote he heard from a Texas house member. Says “secure the borders” a few more times.  Says the threat of ebola and national security is at stake.

Curtis says she supports immigration reform.

6:49 pm Dennison asks how Daines jobs rhetoric isn’t just warmed over trickle down economics.  Daines launches into his same talking points in response.  Seems to believe Keystone pipeline is some kind of magical talisman for the middle class.

6:52 pm And at this point, the live stream from KUFM’s website appears to be no longer functional. (Or Charter internet just stinks–always need to remember this possibility is probably the most likely.)

6:53 pm Last question about to be asked.  MSU-B poll says 20-25% still decided in the race.  Candidates asked to give their final pitches.

Curtis says people should be able to retire without worrying about where their groceries are from.  Says out public lands shouldn’t be sold off and that Medicare shouldn’t be a voucher system.  Daines thinks corporations are people and money is speech.  Intermittent cheering.

Daines says he “grew up a sportsman” and has an A plus rating for NRA. Says “Montanans vote their guns.” More jobs blah blah blah – I’m not Obama, basically.  (Curtis pointed out earlier that Obama isn’t on the ballot.)  Daines tries to say his background is different than most in congress.  Bwhahahahahha!  Right.  Basically keeps saying “I’m not Obama.”  Really embarrassing.

Curtis says choice is between Daines, most extreme Congressman Montana has ever had, and a woman like herself. Says she’ll help all sectors of economy, not just big corporations. Says as Montana’s first female senator she’ll vote for equal pay for equal work and FOR the minimum wage.  Loud cheering, louder and longer than for Daines.

Debate concludes.

 

 

GUEST POST: Open letter to (alphabetically)  Curtis, Daines, Lewis, Zinke

by Mark Van Loon of Hamilton,  MT

For over 100 years, the Montana law that kept corporate money out of politics has made our elections more fair and more truly Montanan.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision in “Citizen’s United” overturned this MT law.  Even arguing in front of the Supreme Court, the MT law, supported by an overwhelming majority of Montanans, was disallowed.

The only way to overturn the “Citizen’s United” decision is through a Constitutional Amendment – an arduous process.  There is currently a strong grass roots movement throughout the United States to introduce and pass this Constitutional Amendment.

As a representative of the people of Montana, would you not only support this Constitutional Amendment but also take a leadership role in getting it passed? Please make your response in a public forum – a press release to major news outlets or a press conference – and explain why or why not.

Hint:  Just saying the Supreme Court has decided this issue so you won’t respond is ducking the question.  Montana voters have a right to know where you stand on this vital issue.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Van Loon

Hamilton  MT

 

 

Political Quick Hits

Shame on Skyview

Skyview High School is targeting young women with a new dress code – a ban on yoga pants and leggings.  Young men are not prohibited from wearing workout pants to school–it is only young women. Shame on Skyview for doing so–and kudos to the young women and men fighting this policy.

Students have put up an online petition drive to change the policy, led by Ms. Dayah Dover. What say you readers – how about some solidarity with our young sisters at Skyview.  Let’s give the school board a reality check from the adult perspective too.  You can sign here in support of these young women. 

As Ms. Raegan Bunting wrote on the online petition drive site:

I agree with [the petition to fight the dress code] because while tights are not pants, leggings, jeggings and yoga pants are. This change in dress code is sexualizing girls’ bodies by the mere fact that it was created because it is assumed that males are distracted by girls that wear leggings. But there is a difference between pants being tight because they are the wrong size, or pants being tight because that is simply the style of the clothing. Other articles of clothing that are tight include pencil skirts and certain dresses that. And if one argues that leggings and yoga pants should not be worn in schools due to their lack of professionalism, then schools should also ban other unprofessional articles of clothing such as sweat pants, skinny jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and anything else that would not be considered appropriate for a “professional environment.”

The school board also seems to be suggesting that the none of the gentlemen at Skyview have any self control over themselves, which I think is also untrue. Mostly from what I noticed during my time at Skyview is that none of the boys in my class could not concentrate on the lesson because Sally chose to wear jeggings that day.

I believe that the school board is wrong in making their decision to ban leggings. It is sexist towards women and men, in the sense that women should not be allowed to show their completely covered figure, and that men have no self control over their bodies. I hope that Skyview reconsiders their choice.

War Between the Factions

The bitter battle between TEA Party and moderate Republicans rages on.  Today, Cowgirl tipsters are reporting that Cascade County Republican Party has ousted their own Chair, Rep. Roger Hagen (R-Cascade County.)  At the time of this posting there is no word on who will replace Hagen as CCRCC leader.   Rep.  Hagan is a moderate Republican who had ran for re-election but  was defeated by Tea Party fanatic Randy Pinnoci last June. 

What Do Happy Plumbers Know?

This video is making the rounds on Youtube and Facebook. Take a look.

Steve Daines and the Environmental Boogeyman

Steve Daines is an embarrassment.

Steve Daines is an embarrassment. He’s bad for the state.

Steve Daines has a new radio ad on the air, in which Daines portrays himself as the protector of the timber industry, keeping timber mills and loggers safe from “fringe environmentalists” and “extreme environmental groups.”  A narrator also describes Daines as “ranked as one of the most effective congressmen” although she doesn’t cite any study or group that made this dubious determination.

 Listen to this idiotic advertisement, or read the transcript, here.

Daines has simply dusted off a twenty-year-old playbook for these ads:  Environmentalists are shutting down the state and costing us jobs, and we must fight against their lawsuits and the federal regulations that they have persuaded Obama to enact.  Montanans could all be rich from natural resource development if the environmentalists would simply get out of the way.

There’s one problem with the radio ad: In the sixty seconds of narration and sound bites from Daines, timber owners and loggers, nobody cites a single item, a single tangible thing, that environmentalists have recently done to effect the loss of jobs or the decline of the timber industry.  The script is simply Daines and his supporters talking about how he has “stood up” to “environmental radicals.”

Now, if the discussion were about coal or fossil fuels, Daines could at least claim credit for voting against, or opposing publicly, whatever is currently being advocated for in DC by the environmental community, such as EPA regulations, carbon limits, and so and and so forth.  Those are not radical ideas or proposals, but they at least are real.

Daines has instead decided to create a nebulous boogeyman, “the fringe environmentalists,” and claim himself as working hard to vanquish it insofar as it is trying to destroy the timber industry.

There is a reason that Daines can’t point to anything to substantiate his claim, not a single timber sale that has been blocked or federal law that has Obama has signed that have negatively affected the timber business: because there really aren’t any.  The cold fact is that the timber industry–in fact the entire wood products industry–in Montana has been devastated in recent years by one thing, and one thing only: the bursting of the housing bubble.  The market for the product crashed, and has not returned nearly to where it was.

But that doesn’t really matter now, because Daines has discovered, likely through polling and other market research, that if you tell persuadable voters that timber jobs have been lost due to the activities of “fringe environmentalists,” they are ignorant and misinformed enough to believe it.  Which is enough for Daines.  That’s Steve Daines’s brand of leadership.  Enjoy it.

Ire Increases Against Those Hiding from Debates

An interesting week in Montana politics.

Montana Public Radio commentator Evan Barrett published an editorial in the Standard and the Missoulian on how debates strengthen democracy. Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch wrote an editorial in the Missoulian about how ducking debates is a disservice voters. And the Bozeman Chronicle editorial board wrote that Zinke was wrong to cancel the only debate with Lewis.

And of course there was the scathing Billings Gazette editorial: Zinke Flunks Political Courage Test. This criticism is especially biting since it is directed at a man whose campaign bus is (improperly) emblazoned with the Navy Seal logo and who was busted trying to take credit for killing Osama bin Laden.

In the U.S. Senate race meanwhile, after Congressman Steve Daines backed out of a televised debate scheduled for October 4, Amanda Curtis is challenging him to answer to Montana voters in series of fourteen debates.  He has not agreed to a single one.

So it seems that the only Montanans left who don’t want the debates are Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke.  These two stale politicians, mired in the stench of the Potomac, believe that Washington politics as usual is all that matters.  Instead of speaking directly to voters, they’ll be saturating the airwaves with dark money dirty campaign ads as is the beltway norm.

 

Daines Has Trouble Garnering Enthusiasm

If the latest unscientific Bozeman Chronicle online poll is indeed an accurate predictor of the US Senate race in Montana, then we should expect Amanda Curtis to defeat Steve Daines this November by a comfortable margin. When I checked early yesterday, she had over 2,000 votes and Daines had only a few hundred.

curtis poll

That’s the difference between Democrats and Republican grassroots.  GOP “young guns” are apparently no match for tech savvy progressives, who quickly voted in large numbers for Curtis.  It has tightened today, but she is still beating him by a 1,000 votes.  By percentage, the current standings are:

Daines         R     35%   (1,488)
Curtis           D    58%   (2,413)
Roots            L      3%     (142)
Undecided            2%      (94)

See live results here.

 

 

 

Montana Democrats, Your Presence Is Requested…

by Cowgirl

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.

Bit of a Stretch

The Montana political world was upended yesterday with the revelation that that John Walsh, our U.S. Senator and candidate, wrote a college paper in which he used language verbatim that he failed to properly attribute.  He cited the sources in footnotes, but he was using the exact language belonging to another author and did not so indicate with quotation marks.

Today, Walsh is saying that he realizes he made a mistake but has shrugged it off by saying that he is not an academic, and that we should look at his entire military record rather than a term paper. That’s a fair point.  He’s not the first person to make such a mistake. Authors of all stripes have done it.  Walsh also says that he was suffering from PTSD at the time, having just returned from Iraq, but made it very clear that he won’t blame his mistake on PTSD.

There is no question that this story will affect Walsh’s candidacy, but it should not disqualify him at all.  He’s a military leader, not Samuel Johnson. It’s not good, but it’s not anything near the outrage that the GOP is making it out to be. If Walsh was a decorated General, Awarded Bronze Star For “Exceptionally Meritorious Service,” the Commander of the National Guard, the Lt. Governor and now U.S. Senator, how can someone say that he is unqualified, in retrospect, to have been all of these things and to have won all of those medals and commendations because of a college term paper?  It’s a bit of a stretch.

Nevertheless, let the circus now begin.

Steve Daines, predictably, is nowhere to be seen or heard on this issue because he knows there’s no percentage, and indeed no need, for him to say anything about it.  But a week or so from now, expect to see a TV ad, probably from the Republican Party, telling us all about John Walsh’s plagiarism with scary music in the background.  Expect also to hear from veterans who will talk about how outraged they are that Walsh would try to excuse plagiarism on PTSD, which he has not done. We might even get a pure swiftboating–hear from some soldier claiming that Walsh never had PTSD.  It’s also interesting that this suddenly becomes a news story just as polls are starting to show Walsh gaining on Daines.

This is politics, and this is what happens when a story like this breaks, and their ain’t much Walsh can do beside put his best face on it and remind voters that Steve Daines plays childrens’ games in Congress and does things like throw tantrums and threaten to default on bills and shut the National Parks down–costing us $45 million in lost tourism and other dollars.  And why is no one talking about how Daines opened all kinds of factories in China while his company laid off people in the U.S.? Meanwhile Walsh served in combat has a 33-year career fighting for Montana and wants to get something done in Washington rather than play games.

As for rumblings from the internet fringe today about whether Walsh should jump off the ticket before the August deadline, enabling the party to put in someone else, I think this would make no sense.  First, there is nobody to replace him with, unless you think John Bohlinger would have a better chance against Daines right now which is debatable.  Brian Schweitzer, Linda McCulloch, Denise Juneau and Monica Lindeen have all taken a pass already. Names like Carol Williams, Dirk Adams and so on, they would be starting at zero against a sitting Congressman, and would have an impossible fundraising hill to climb.

 So this is what it is: Walsh is the best candidate for U.S. Senate, and this too shall pass.

 

Steve Daines Runs Sketchy TV Ad

In case you haven’t seen it, a woman who worked for the Montana National Guard is claiming that she was discriminated against because she was refused a promotion.  She blames John Walsh, because Walsh was the head of the guard in before he was Lt. Gov.

This woman is featured in a TV ad being run by the Steve Daines campaign.  Her name is Cindy Neely and in the ad she says she personally experienced sexual discrimination while at the Guard, because she was repeatedly passed over for a promotion.  Those who were her supervisors (not Walsh, who was not) say she was simply unqualified for the position. Continue reading