| Following up on my post about the seemingly defunct Republican party in Montana, there is an important point that I left out.
Republicans have largely relinquished the party duties to a person named Chuck Denowh. Denowh is a long-time right-wing Montana operative who has, over time, opened a series of rent-a-front organizations: PACs, astroturf issue groups, incidental ballot committees, and other shell entities designed to appear like legitimate grassroots issue groups.
Denowh, an urbane-looking fellow who runs around the Capitol in a suit and tie fighting his good fight, was among the crew of young geniuses that took the Republican Party from ruling status 6 years ago to the bottom of the toilet today. He forms these "issue" groups working in concert with other RAWNJs like former Representative Jon Sinrud (R-Belgrade), the Chamber, the Realtors, etc., He then sends mailings out in targeted races, decrying democrats as dangerous liberals, radicals, anti-business, radical environmentalists, and the usual minimalist attacks that rile up the ignorant, case-of-Coors-a-day, semi-literate mouth breathers that constitute the Montana far-right wing. He cooks the spin right into the groups' names with lables like "Better Government PAC" or "Growth PAC" and other such innocuous names. Then he raises cash from hard-core conservative donors, and moves the money to this PAC or the other (legally it appears).
The front-group mailer is a tactic that Republicans have long used. Dems seem to have had less success with it. Here's how it works: A mailing shows up saying that "Democrat Candidate X supports the Radical Terrorist Agenda", or "Candidate X Voted For the Biggest Tax Increase In History" or "If You Can't Find A Job, Thank Candidate X for Shutting Down the Mill With Radical Environmental Regulation." And there is a dubious citation in small print at the bottom with reference to some legislation that had nothing to do with anything, and a disclaimer that says "Paid for By Montanans for a Stronger Society" or "Montanans for More Jobs." In the Flathead, a bunch of wing-nuts bounced Frank Sweeney from the City Council using these tactics. In fact about nearly $40k was spent on the effort, a good third of it coming from Denowh's operation.
The state Republican Party used to do this, until the Republican brand went down the toilet with names like Martz, Bush, Brad Johnson, Greg Barkus, Jeff Krauss and many other debilitating figures who showed complete ineptitude. Now a mailer that says "paid for by Republicans" loses its luster. This season, the right-wing hotheads are at an all time high blood-pressure now that we have a black president, and you will no doubt see many Denowh mailers to get the wingnuts to the polls. We will see if they do the job.