Tag Archives: Tim Ravndal

Few Surprises on Election Night

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.

Ousted Bozeman TEA Partier Hopes Belgrade Voters Haven’t Heard of Him Yet


Will Belgrade Take Bozeman’s Leavings?  Not Likely

An absurd former TEA Party legislator who was ousted by Bozeman voters last cycle appears to be hoping that Belgrade voters may be unfamiliar with his record and may vote him back into office.

That man is Tom Burnett, who served one term in Bozeman in 2011 and was immediately voted out in the next elect.  The former lawmaker may soon be under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership. But that’s just the beginning.

Tom Burnett has accused a youth support for LGBT young people in his community of meeting to recruit people into becoming gay.   He has also written that he wonders whether the high school support group would soon include pedophiles and beastiality:

“Is it only a matter of time before the umbrella covers pedophiles, necrophiles, and zoophiles? When will the high school advertise a group called Beastiality Acceptance Alliance, BAA?”

Burnett took the post down after his ravings appeared in campaign flyers and on a reporter’s blog.

But perhaps what Burnett is most known for is his obsession with preventing poor people from getting enough to eat. For a peek into the serpents’ nest of irrationality that is this guy’s brain, look no further than what he calls his “studies” which consist of lies, unsubstantiated anecdotes, and incoherent wackiness he found on the internet.

Burnett’s latest screed, released in October of 2013, is a follow up to his premier work “Childhood Hunger, the Myth” in which he reveals that pictures of fat kids he found on the internet prove that there is no such thing as childhood hunger.

His bizarre writings prove nothing other than that the snake on a yellow background is the perfect symbol for the TEA Party.

Consider Burnett in light of the recent scandal in Iowa.  That state’s top GOP-appointed public-health official resigned just last week after she was caught making unsubstantiated comments about food stamps.

“The No. 1 food item bought with food stamps in Iowa is Mountain Dew,” the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health claimed, even though states obviously don’t track such purchases.  The woman later claimed through a spokesman she “found it online” but couldn’t remember where.

After this scandal, Montanans are even less likely to put someone like this in charge of making decisions here–someone who makes things up to demonize and perpetuate stereotypes about the poor.

Burnett himself has claimed that Food stamps = Red Bull.  He’s also written that teachers are what is keeping Mexico in poverty.  Yeah.

Burnett has organized TEA Party events  with Tim Ravndal, the Helena TEA Partier who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays.Burnett also is the author of the famous bill to eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)  It made the venerated 2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog.



ATP’s Tangled Web May Snare Others

Montana’s head elections regulator ruled this week that American Tradition Partnership illegally coordinated with a GOP legislative candidate, Dan Kennedy R-Laurel.  Now, Montana’s top election regulator says he’s launching an investigation into other candidates ATP may have coordinated with.

ATP is the right-wing political attack group that was instrumental in bringing us the nation’s most bat-crap crazy state legislatures in 2011 and 2013. Kennedy’s primary opponent was but one of several GOP candidates who complained about ATPs activities to elect hard right-wingers over more moderate republicans.

As KUFM’s Dan Boyce reports, an investigation into illegal campaign activity

“is now expanding to include Continue reading

Montana Republicans Reach Out to Young People

by Cowgirl

NPR is reporting this week that the GOP is trying up it’s digital game.  Republicans are taking heat because their anti-science platform and failure to embrace technology is repelling young voters.

But Montana Republicans could change the game this week at a Holiday Inn in Bozeman.

First, local repubs announced by modern email technology  that former State Senator Joe Balyeat “will deliver a powerful power point presentation” this week on “Economic Freedom.”  This is exciting stuff, and a major leap forward for the Montana GOP.  Sure, the first emails were sent in the 1960′s, but PowerPoint first came into being as recently as 1987–and will certainly appeal to the many GOP’s who are young enough to have qualified for AARP cards in the last decade.

TEA Party Republican Joe BalyeatSenator Balyeat (pictured), though not a young person himself, was once a college student and is a “former editor of The Montana Companion,” which sounds like something a lot of young people have surely heard of.  The GOP email states that Balyeat’s “list of accomplishments and awards is too long to catalogue here”–but we can at least try.  He looks like a confederate general and wrote a book about how gays, the UN, and non-christians are leading America toward an armageddon.

With such an exciting, relevant speaker, a hip venue and a fascinating topic you can see that this event will be packed with youths, and not just with older men, angry and on the fringe-of society, conspiracy-theory minded, gun-wearing, Sasquatch hunters.

In all seriousness, technology isn’t the only roadblock preventing the Montana GOP from attracting young people and women.  Who can forget the famous incident in Whitefish in 2010, when a burly guy with long white hair, tattoos and a mullet showed up at a female voter’s house with a gun on his belt and holding a clipboard.  The woman called the police. The guy left.  It was later discovered that the guy meant no harm.  He was simply a canvasser, canvassing for the GOP.

That small incident in Whitefish has also played out on a much bigger stage in Montana. The Koch brothers have repeatedly failed to find a normal person, an organizer, to lead the Montana chapter of their national group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), to go around keynoting GOP events in Montana.  The current guy is the Colonel Sanders wannabe.  The previous leader of AFP is worse.  He had been a senior member of a cult that built a $30 million underground bunker to prepare for the end of the world, which they believed would occur on April 23, 1990.

The state Tea Party hasn’t done much better than the Kochs.    One of the many leaders they’ve cycled through was showing up to legislative hearings dressed in a pirate hat, jeans and a leather jacket, and posted violent rhetoric against gays on his Facebook page.  And Republican lawmakers haven’t done much better than the TEA Party. Montana legislative leader Jason Priest was forced to apologize for anti-gay remarks he made on his Facebook page too, the Billings Gazette reported.

Ultimately, even embracing advanced 1990s technology isn’t going to help Republicans. They need to realize that their party is packed with lawmakers whose vision is morally bankrupt and that bigotry isn’t a viable ideology.  If they can’t do this, they’re going to continue to repulse young people, women, and minorities and they will continue to shrivel and shrink.

The first step of course is getting rid of Montana’s law that makes being gay an imprisonable crime. Tom Facey has a bill that would to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate.  by passing  SB 107 has yet to be voted on in the House, though it will be any day now.

It’s time to contact the lawmakers in the House of Representatives, which you can do via this online form. FYI, you can always use the back button after submitting your message, which allows you to skip retyping all your info when you contact multiple legislators. Or you can cut and paste this list of House GOP legislators.

Only four states in the U.S. have a law this ridiculous, and Montana is still one of them.  The others are Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  That’s right, even Mississippi and Alabama don’t have this garbage in state law.

Next Debate Tuesday in Helena

Montana’s superintendent of public instruction Denise Juneau (D) and challenger Sandy Welch (R-TEA) will debate here in Helena on Tuesday Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Center.

Welch has been aptly called “the Derek Skees of education” (the comparison extends to spelling errors) and has even been compared to Skees by the infamous TEA Partier Tim Ravndal.

To be sure, there is one difference between Skees and Welch.  Welch is a transplant from California while Skees hails from Florida.  Most recently Ravndal linked the two in a bizarre post about the supposed need to break the collaboration between Montana PBS and public radio stations. Must be a conspiracy in there somewhere. Ravndal is one of Welch’s biggest fans.

Juneau meanwhile has launched an innovative series of reforms to increase Montana’s high school graduation rate that is popular with parents, unions, and the business community alike–no small feat. So this will be a very interesting debate.

Juneau/Welch Debate
6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, September 25
Gateway Center in Helena (map)