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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
1 Comments
If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
5 Comments
Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
15 Comments
It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.
Dennis McDonald

Rehberg votes against education, seniors, and Montana

by: Jay Stevens

Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 18:50:39 PM MST

Okay, so Dennis Rehberg votes against a federal aid package that would bring Montana $68 million in state aid, "with more than $30 million going to school districts" and the rest to help with pay the state's Medicare bills.

Really? Really? Denying Montana federal money in a recession?

Quote of the day from Dennis McDonald: "You can lead a congressman to Washington, but you can't make him think."

Seriously, Rehberg is looking pretty bad this summer.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Dennis Rehberg (R-Albatross)

by: Montana Cowgirl

Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 21:22:13 PM MST

Is Rehberg just not willing to put his money where his mouth is on his opposition to health care reform or are other health care opponents fearful that a Rehberg signature could sink their repeal proposal?

After watching the latest McDonald/Rehberg debate on television Sunday, I was surprised to read this story in today's Helena IR with the headline "Economy, immigration at heart of House race." This is simply wrong.  For example, it is impossible to argue that health care reform isn't a major current issue, yet the AP story didn't report on the discussion of health care reform at the "debate."  I wish there were some online source I could link to...but since there isn't, those of you who watched will also remember that Rehberg also faced strong accusations from both of his opponents that he'd allowed "partisan bickering" to hold up progress in Congress.

At the accusation, Rehberg feigned a shocked face and tried to claim that he'd be happy to work with anyone who offered.  Desparate to come up with an example, he was only able to think of his work with another of D.C's biggest duds, Bart Stupak, on the so-called "Northern Border Caucus." Stupak, who claims to be a Democrat, is so unpopular that more people are clamoring to take credit for his resignation than to admit they are collaborating with him on something, so it's not exactly something to brag about.

So why is it so hard for Rehberg to get others to work with him?

Perhaps Rehberg's record of failing to pass meaningful legislation prevents others from wanting to join him on a big project they actually hope will pass. Could be that his lack of legislative prowess makes his signature an albatross of sorts to a proposal. Only if by "prowess" you mean the ability to pop the top off a Bud Light Lime with one's teeth is Rehberg going to be your go-to guy.

Actions speak louder than words, and while Dennis Rehberg has shown that he'll say anything to try and score political points, he'll ultimately only do what's best for his campaign coffers, not what's best for passing legislation.  For example, when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is on his opposition to health care reform, Rehberg has once again done nothing.

Nothing of substance that is.  Rehberg has had no problem kicking the old "work ethic" into gear when it comes to  speaking to the media and collecting campaign checks from those who want reform repealed:

Rehberg said Montana Republican legislators are right to be pushing the state's attorney general, Steve Bullock, to join 18 other states in challenging federal health care legislation. Last week, more than 70 Republicans signed a letter to Bullock, claiming to represent a majority of Montanans on the issue.

At the same time, Rehberg has refused to actually do anything about it himself by signing on to the repeal bill. 

Unless of course, those wanting repeal to succeed have refused to accept his signature.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

MT Dem Primary Analysis Post #2- The influence of Gopher and Rankin and everything else.

by: Twohundertseventy

Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 12:59:01 PM MST

I realize that I'm a little bit late to the party now, but I was really busy in the last few days- I'm working with two other guys on an algorithm to rate pollsters and accurately project races based on polls- that will most likely be prominently featured at Pollster.com and rival Nate Silver's ratings over at 538.com.

Anyway, today I read the last couple of posts over at Flathead Memo, and saw the graph posted by James Conner under the headline 'Where Gopher won big, Gernant lost big'.
But is that true? Well, obviously it is, but it doesn't seem to be a huge surprise. When four candidates compete for 100% of the vote, it's no surprise that one candidate does badly where another candidate does well. The bigger question is, were the candidates disproportionately hurt in the counties where Melinda Gopher did well, or could James just as well have written a post titled 'Where Gopher won big, Gernant, McDonald and Rankin lost big'?

I'm not really interested in the question if Gopher hurt Rankin, but we can look at her influence on the Gernant/McDonald race by introducing the new metric 'Gernant TwoWay vote'- which is eliminating Gopher and Rankin votes and is defined as Gernant%*100/(Gernant%+McDonald%).

If we build a scatterplot for Melinda% and Gernant TwoWay vote, it looks like this:
melinda

There doesn't seem to be a particularly good relationship, and indeed, if we regress Gopher's vote share (and a constant) on Tyler TwoWay, it is insignificant (p-value .29).
That means that Gernant didn't lose particularly badly compared to McDonald where Gopher did well.

We can perform the same analysis for Sam Rankin of course, here's the scatterplot:
rankin

And here there IS some weak relation between the variables, with Gernant doing slightly worse where Rankin was doing well (upper left corner).
It's not too strong either though, the p value is .11 (which means that there is the chance of this occuring by chance is 11%- 5% is considered good enough to draw some conclusions by most statisticians, 11% is not). The coefficient of Rankin% is -.41, which basically means that for each percentage point Rankin got, Tyler lost .4% to Dennis McDonald in the two-way vote.

Some more analysis suggests why that may have been the case: Dennis McDonald was doing very badly in places where a lot of people identify their ancestry as 'American'- Gernant was doing okay with them, Rankin performed very well there. That suggests that if Rankin had not been in the race, those people would probably have gone for Gernant over McDonald. BTW, 'American' (or, as we could also dub it, white trash) is the only variable of even some predictive value for the vote share of Sam Rankin- he did not well with them, McDonald in turn did. But apart from that I'm at a loss as to why Rankin did as well as he did- and that almost everywhere, from Missoula over Big Horn to Garfield.

'American' identifiers, for what it's worth, tend to be disproportionately Republican, White and without health insurance.
They just aren't a huge enough voting group in Democratic primaries (in Montana at least) to swing the election alone though, which means that Gernant would most likely have lost in any case- with Gopher and Rankin in the race or without them. He might have picked up more of their votes than McDonald would have done, but not by such a prohibitive margin that he could have closed in- a two-way election might have resulted in a 56-44 McDonald win.

Anyway, we're not only interested in the influence of Gopher and Rankin on the race, we're also interested in which demographic groups Gernant and McDonald had their strengths.

There's More... :: (25 Comments, 604 words in story)

First McDonald-Rehberg Debate this Saturday in Bozeman

by: Montana Cowgirl

Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 21:00:23 PM MST

NOTE:  Just got this from Ray Tracy, Communications Director for McDonald for Montana, and am passing it on for those interested.

http://www.MontanaForMcDonald.com

With the primary election one week behind us, it's so very important that we unite behind one candidate to defeat Rehberg. I was very proud to call myself a Democrat on primary night.  

After all the votes were in and the news outlets were calling the race for McDonald, each of the Congressional candidates called Dennis to congratulate him and pledged to support him in any way they could.  Within hours, all primary candidates were solidly united behind Dennis to defeat our true opponent, Denny Rehberg.

As we're all aware, Rehberg has done little for our state.  His record is predictable - say "yes" to everything on the Bush-Cheney agenda, and say "no" to everything from our current administration.  As Dennis McDonald so often says, "He offers no solutions, no ideas, and no hope."  We have a do-nothing Congressman who's been asleep on his couch for 10 years.

This Congressional seat has been held by quality statesmen like Mike Mansfield, Lee Metcalf, Max Baucus, and Pat Williams.  Today, the seat is being defended by a Cheney-Bush lapdog and someone who takes pride in always saying "no."

Dennis McDonald is a clear alternative.  He's a real rancher, an agricultural and business leader. Many people know him as the state Democratic Party Chairman from 2005 to 2009.  During that time, he organized a grassroots effort to reestablish central committees for the party in every county in the state.  In 2006, he helped get Jon Tester elected.  In 2008, he helped get Democrats elected to all statewide offices but the Congressional seat. Those victories included the elections of Brian Schweitzer and Max Baucus.  The 2008 election was historic as it was the first time since 1948 that all of our Land Board members were Democrats.

Now that the dust has settled on the primary election, we need you to help keep the momentum going so we can send Rehberg packing in November.  
This Saturday is the first debate between the two candidates, being held at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman starting at 10:30 am.  We invite you to come to the auditorium to cheer on our candidate.  If you can't make it this Saturday, visit our website at http://www.MontanaForMcDonald.com and learn how you can help out.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Election commentary

by: Jay Stevens

Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 11:03:25 AM MST

So...it's looking like Brad Johnson lost his bid for PSC district 5 by about 120 votes to Bill Gallagher -- only he's not conceding the race, "because the district still has some uncounted provisional ballots." If Johnson's right, and the provisional ballots favor him, we could be in an interesting situation where the GOP PSC nominee will be spending a good chunk of election season in rehab.

Which would be hilarious, if it weren't so pathetic.

*  *  *

Why did Dennis McDonald win his primary?

"It seems to me that the congressional results are not surprising, because party establishment voters chose party establishment candidates," said James Lopach, a University of Montana political science professor. "Primary turnout is usually pretty much party-faithful voters. Rehberg and McDonald were clearly the party establishment candidates, and they won."

*  *  *

And Ochenski weighs on in the "fizzle" of Montana's Tea Party influence on Republican primary elections:

A good example would be the House contest between former state Sen. John Esp and Joel Boniek in Park and Sweetgrass counties. Boniek was one of the wildest of the right-wing wild bunch in the last legislative session, but was edged out by Esp who told reporters that he "knew the people" in his district and they "weren't going to be jumping on these kinds of bandwagons." His win was echoed by similar results in which Chas Vincent of Libby, a definite right-winger, defeated Rhoda Cargill almost 4-to-1, despite her endorsement by extreme conservatives. The same thing happened in Dillon, with Jeff Wellborn defeating Ron Lake. The radical right can claim at least a few wins, however, such as MCA-supported candidate Lee Randall's victory in southeast Montana. But overall, their efforts bore little fruit.

So much for this being an election about anti-incumbency and outsider politics...

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Mulling the Democratic US House race

by: Jay Stevens

Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 11:30:05 AM MST

Let the speculating begin! James Connor:

But the vote totals for Melinda Gopher and Sam Rankin, and the lower than expected total for Tyler Gernant, are surprises. Gopher and Rankin were running soapbox candidacies on a shoestring. I expected each to receive around five percent of the vote. And I expected a much closer race between McDonald and Gernant.

What happened? Two things, I think.

First, I believe that early voting hurt Gernant. His campaign gathered steam during the last half of May, but by then a lot of Democrats, the ones who reject the idea that they have a responsibility to keep their minds open until the campaign ends, had voted - and a lot of them voted for McDonald. Early voting almost always helps the initially better known candidate.

Second, most Democrats understood that none of the Democratic candidates had an ice cube's chance in a blast furnace of beating Rehberg. That provided an opportunity to cast a protest vote against the Democratic establishment, which was represented by McDonald and Gernant.

Your guess is as good as mine, folks. In any election that gives Sam Rankin 16 percent of the vote in a four-way race, you've got to scratch your head. It's not random -- that's only a few points lower than you'd expect if all Democratic primary voters cast their ballots randomly. It's not cross-over voters: Republicans actually had a race in the US House, and a lot more disputed and contentious legislative primaries. (Not to mention county commissioner races.) A protest vote, as Connor suggests? That assumes the voters are very well informed -- they'd have to know who the "establishment" candidate is, and who the outsiders were -- and thinking strategically.

Let's be frank, people. This is the second year in a row that Montanans in large numbers picked irrational candidates in the primary. In 2008, it was Driscoll and Kelleher. And that time around, we blamed new voters turned out for the Clinton-Obama brouhaha who were uninformed about the down-ticket races and lost in the blizzard of candidates on the primary ballot. But this year, turnout was low, and the US House race was the showcase event. Was it really a conscious decision?

(Note that Republican voters, on the other hand, supported Dennis Rehberg nearly unanimously, despite warnings that we were facing an "anti-incumbent" tidal wave.)

Why did Sam Rankin nearly beat out Tyler Gernant? Why did the Democrats of South Carolina nominate an unemployed veteran living in his mother's house to run for Senate?

Who the h*ll knows?

I'm waiting for Rasmus to explain.

Discuss :: (14 Comments)

Congratulations Dennis McDonald!

by: Montana Cowgirl

Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 22:03:21 PM MST

You did it!  The voters of Montana will be proud to support you in the general. Job well done to you and your staff!

Kudos also to the hard work put in by Gernant and Gopher.  

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Vote Dennis McDonald U.S. House of Representatives

by: Montana Cowgirl

Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 11:19:47 AM MST

I've already voted for Dennis, and I'd be so proud if he were our Representative in Congress!

Dennis McDonald has raised more money (yes, I'm talking about total amount raised), has more ads up, has more name recognition, and has the right profile to beat Rehberg--and not just in Missoula.  McDonald also has the backing of the post powerful constituency group in Montana, the AFL-CIO.

Like Jay said below, the candidates are pretty similar on their policy positions, where they differ is in experience, who they are as people, and ability to win.

He came out for single-payer when no one else had the guts, and you can be sure the Republicans want his opponents to beat him, as they've already proven by running ads against him.  You can bet they've seen polling that shows him to be the stronger candidate against Rehberg.

I've known Dennis McDonald and his wife Sharon for several years and you won't meet anyone with bigger hearts.  They and their four children own and operate the Open Spear Ranch in Melville, where they raise angus-cross cattle and performance horses. Dennis has long been a leader in addressing agriculture and trade issues critical to Montana's farmers and ranchers.

He has experience successfully passing progressive legislation.  He pushed for laws such as the Country of Origin Labeling Act and the Montana Certified Natural Beef Program.  He also founded the Beef-On-Every-Plate program, which has provided hundreds of thousands of meals to needy Montanans.  His hard work led to his appointment in 1998 to the President's International Trade Advisory Committee for Livestock, for which he traveled extensively through the western hemisphere.  In this role he fought against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which he felt placed Montana farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.

He also lead efforts to raise Montana's minimum wage in 2006. Under his leadership, he made sure the Dems were key players in helping this pass, directing organizing staff and volunteers to collect signatures. 

His vocal role as an advocate for the Ag community-he is founder of R-CALF, Montana's progressive ag organization-led to greater involvement in state politics when, in 2005, he was chosen chairman of Montana's Democratic party.  His efforts to revitalize the party, particularly in rural areas all over the state, helped to elect Democrat Jon Tester to the U.S. Senate in 2006.

He know's what it's like to face true hard times. Early in his life his family lost their home in Kansas and moved to northern California to start over.  To pay for college, he worked summer jobs in a cannery as a member of the Teamsters Union and as a Forest Service firefighter.

In his legal career, Dennis focused on representing injured individuals in cases against insurance companies and big corporations.  One of his clients referred organized crime figure Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno to Dennis.  Dennis helped Fratianno turn state's evidence against other mobsters. After contacting the FBI, Dennis worked with Rudolph Giuliani's anti-corruption taskforce and Fratianno's testimony eventually sent 26 high-ranking gangsters to jail.

He's been outspoken on women's rights, authoring a guest editorial in 2005 on the importance of the right to choose - before he was elected chair of the Democratic Party.  

He's the only candidate that's visited all 56 counties, and he's the only candidate that hasn't attacked his primary opponent.  

Overall, he has the experience, character, policy views, and backbone to be our next member of Congress.  I've already voted for him, and I expect him to win tomorrow.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Vote for Tyler Gernant for U.S. House of Representatives

by: Jay Stevens

Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 08:17:18 AM MST

Okay...before I explain the reasons I'm supporting Tyler Gernant for U.S. Congress, I want to remind anyone who's still undecided to check out the profiles of all the Democratic House candidates I've posted: Dennis McDonald, Sam Rankin, Tyler Gernant, and Melinda Gopher. Obviously this endorsement is one man's opinion; the links and videos and articles on each candidate will help you make up your own mind, and based on the policies and positions of each, not on the word of a political hack.

So...after all of that, I suspect you, like me, will come to the same conclusion: Tyler Gernant is the best candidate for US House, and he deserves your vote in the impending primary.

Dennis McDonald and Melinda Gopher also good candidates, of course. McDonald's a stand-up guy, a real mensch, and has served the Democratic party faithfully and well for years. And Gopher's record as an activist is exemplary. She's a fighter, absolutely dedicated to the causes she believes in.

But I'm endorsing Tyler Gernant.

There are a number of considerations. First, his policy portfolio is right on, as he's campaigning around a green economy - absolutely crucial on so many levels. Environmentally, it's the best chance we have of dramatically reducing carbon pollution while preserving our way of life. Economically, it's a chance - and a short-lived one, at that -  to rebuild the country's manufacturing base. Politically, it's a golden opportunity to unite labor and environmentalism towards a common cause. Gernant is also campaigning around pragmatic, progressive financial reform that would make taxation fairer for working- and middle-class Americans, while reducing our nation's deficit. He's the only candidate in this election that speaks to the problem of Montana's young people leaving the state -- even as they'd prefer to stay -- to look for work, benefits, and affordable living, which is an issue that's resonates strongly with me on a personal level...

And he's in favor of a Constitutional Amendment protecting privacy! Which is cool.

But to be honest, there's not much difference between the Democratic candidates on policy. This isn't like the Republican primary, where the future of the GOP lies in the hands of the voters tomorrow. Dennis McDonald, for example, does support the Otter Creek coal venture, unlike Gernant; and Gopher emphasizes more than any other candidate using the office to work with and provide more aid to rural communities and communities in poverty. But all three candidates generally share the same values. And then there's Rankin who...well...does want to slash Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Which brings us to a second consideration: how is Gernant as a political candidate? And, here, Gernant wins hands-down over any other House candidate of either party. There's nobody, of either party, who works harder. Nobody. Period. He's been at this thing for, what? Over a year? Relentlessly hitting the phones and raising funds, relentlessly traveling the state and talking with voters. His campaign is slick, his videos are professional, the whole effort is mature and serious and ready for prime time.

Compare that to, say, Dennis McDonald's lackluster fundraising and his lack of verve required of a legitimate candidate expecting to take on a long-time and deep-pocketed incumbent. If he struggles to ward off Jimmy "the Weasel" Fratianno questions from a College Republican with hand-held video, how's he going to beat off the crippling negative campaigning from the Republican Party's varsity squad? Still McDonald, at least, raises money and understands how to run for office, which is more than you can say of Melinda Gopher, who entered the race late, has raised next to no money, and went negative, wildly lashing out against the other candidates, the party, and EMILY's List, among others, and squandered her opportunity to challenge Gernant and McDonald to match her passion for economic justice. And Sam Rankin, well, he's John Driscoll 2.0 with weirder politics.

Tyler Gernant is an excellent candidate and can win this race in November. And given his understanding of the political process and his campaign skills, I have no doubt he'll have the energy,  single-minded determination, and patience to do battle and prevail in the US House of Representatives on behalf of the people of Montana.

Gernant for Congress.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Can we perhaps just turn up the love a bit?

by: Twohundertseventy

Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 00:58:58 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

I get the feeling that the situation in the Dem primary is getting a bit out of hand here in the blogosphere.

We're all Democrats, and we agree on 95% of our policy ideas. Dennis McDonald is a good Democrat. Tyler Gernant is a good Democrat. Melinda Gopher is a good Democrat. Sam Rankin... well, okay, forget it, probably.

But what I'm trying to say is that, well, our main focus should be on beating Rehberg. And if there is some friendly competition about who should be selected to do that, all the better.

But lately we're busy sniping at each other in blog comments here and over at 4&20 blackbirds and now DailyKos. I don't like that, even though I admit that I participated in it.

Last summer, when I was a full-time intern for a month with Tyler's campaign, I talked to Dennis at  Sen. Baucus' Sieben Ranch fundraiser for Jon Tester. And even though I was wearing a Tyler sticker, he was 100% friendly and told me that 'in the end, all that matters is that we're Democrats. It's all about beating Rehberg.'

And I'm sure that Tyler agrees with that.
So let's just dial the rhetoric down a little bit and pledge to get behind the primary winner on Tuesday, whoever that will be.

That doesn't mean that we can't blog about or advocate for our favorites, but I think that Pres. Reagan had one good idea with his 11th commandment-- 'Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican'.

It's certainly more productive than having endless fights on the metrics that should be used to compare fundraising records.

Can we just do that? What do you think?

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Democratic US House candidates: Dennis McDonald

by: Jay Stevens

Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 10:35:28 AM MST

The last of the profiles of the Democratic House candidates...

Dennis McDonald:

His Act Blue page...campaign website...Facebook page...

Bio: His first job out of college was as probation officer, before he became a trial lawyer for 17 years. He bought a ranch in Montana in the 1970s, and currently owns and operates a ranch in Melville. McDonald has served as the President of the Montana Cattleman's Association. He served on the International Trade Advisory Committee under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush. McDonald was chair of the Montana Democratic party from 2005 to 2009.

Issues: (from his website) McDonald advocates making a significant investment into our "aging infrastructure," exploiting the "opportunity" to "wisely and safely take advantage of our traditional energy resources" while "investing in alternative and green energy," and "fully fund education and train teachers." McDonald also supports U.S. energy independence through judicious use of Montana's coal reserves. He also "firmly" supports "our constitutional right to keep and bear arms."

During the health-care bill debate in Congress, McDonald came out with a strong statement favoring single payer health care. He also "supports coal mining in Otter Creek area."

Blogs:

Dennis McDonald on 4 and 20 blackbirds and Left in the West.

From "Actually, Dem Primary is About Who Will Be Best Member of Congress": "Dennis McDonald has been a tried and tested leader since before his primary opponent was born.

As a lawyer and probation officer, he made his career defending those who have the least voice in society.

"As a rancher, Dennis has been a leader in the agricultural community. Since he started ranching in Montana in 1972, he's been a founding member of two major national agricultural groups, R-CALF and the United States Cattlemen's Association. He also served as President of the Montana Cattlemen's Association.

"As Chairman of the Montana Democratic Party, Dennis crisscrossed the state discussing issues at kitchen tables and town hall meetings. His tireless efforts led to the election of Jon Tester in 2006 and to Democratic victories in every Tier-B race in 2008-the first time that's happened in Montana since 1948.

"As a member of the President's International Trade Advisory Committee, Dennis traveled the globe and fought against the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He was appointed to this position by President Bill Clinton and re-appointed by President George W. Bush.
"Basically, Dennis has the leadership, tenacity, and experience to be an effective leader in the United States Congress. He has served tirelessly in these and many other leadership positions trying to make life better for the least among us."

Articles:

Democrats campaign for U.S. House seat: "McDonald, 66, was born in Salina, Kan., in 1944, to parents who lost their farm six years earlier during the Great Depression. He still has a copy of the bill of sale from when his parents were forced to sell the last of their livestock and equipment. He keeps it in his pocket and looks at it now and then to remind him of where he came from.

"'I think feeling failure within your family is a huge motivator,' McDonald told a reporter in 2007....

"McDonald said he often is reminded when he is out on the campaign trail of the difficulties his family faced so long ago. He criticized the federal government's response to the current economic crisis as a 'knee-jerk reaction to bail out the big banks.' He said the federal government should be focusing on 'investing in Main Street, not Wall Street.'

"'We need to invest in ordinary people because when you do that, you'll experience an extraordinary return,' McDonald said. 'That's the fundamental history of this country. Whether it's the Homestead Act, the GI Bill, or the (Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) or the investment in education, all of that was focused on investing in citizens, that's what built our country.'"

Candidate statements - U.S. House seat - Dennis McDonald: "I'm prepared to lead in a different direction. I propose we move from an economy based on debt, consumption and speculation to one that promotes savings, productivity, innovation and hard work. It's not a radical idea. It's just a matter of reordering our priorities. We simply have to stop letting Wall Street call the shots while our Main Streets dry up and blow overseas.

"I propose we make a national commitment to invest in ordinary people because when we do we will realize an extraordinary return. Those tried and failed trickledown schemes don't benefit everyday folks. We know that now. They just bring bubble economies, unemployment and heartache to too many Montanans.

"My vision is to shake things up and refocus our priorities on the things we know will work: investing in education, renewable energy and developing our natural resources in an environmentally sound manner."

Will Mafia client come back to haunt McDonald?: "McDonald - Democratic candidate for Congress, former chairman of the Montana Democratic Party, and a rancher near Melville for the past 22 years - was once the lawyer for the acting boss of the West Coast Cosa Nostra crime family.

"Jimmy 'The Weasel' Fratianno. He killed people.

"Some of McDonald's political opponents have been making hay with the Fratianno story for more than a year, since shortly after McDonald announced he was running against Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg in this November's elections.

"The Montana Republican Party ran a television ad about Fratianno last March - 20 months before the election - juxtaposing photos of McDonald in his cowboy hat with those of Fratianno and other "mob-looking" images including a black-and-white of what viewers are led to believe are the feet of a dead man in a morgue with a tag hanging off the big toe.

"'McDonald even befriended Fratianno,' says the voice-over of the ad. 'They hung out together in Vegas.'

"But McDonald says the true story is not what the Republicans would have you believe. McDonald is not ashamed of his involvement with Fratianno.

"'I took a crook and turned him into a witness,' he said. And, together with federal prosecutors and the FBI, McDonald and Fratianno helped take down more than two dozen other mobsters."

Dennis McDonald bio
Democrats running for the house
McDonald first candidate to air TV ad in House race
Let's get ready to rumble

Video below the fold...

There's More... :: (10 Comments, 94 words in story)

Gernant More Than Doubles McDonald's Fundraising in Most Recent FEC Filings

by: jhwygirl

Sat May 29, 2010 at 15:46:37 PM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

While both Tyler Gernant and Dennis McDonald are airing statewide commercials, Gernant's campaign sure looks healthier with a 2-1 ratio of cash-on-hand in the final days of the campaign.

In the last reporting period, which closed May 19th, Gernant raised $21,551.28 compared to McDonald's $10,455.77.

McDonald's figure doesn't include the $18,000 he loaned himself in just this last reporting period - this brings his total loans to his campaign to $28,835.00.

Gernant did not loan his campaign any money this last reporting period - but he has loaned himself a total of $1,800 since the beginning of his FEC reporting.

McDonald has taken a total of $2,200 in PAC contributions to Gernant's $100.  But neither compares to Dennis Rehberg's total of $252,701.00, which includes $15,500.00 this reporting period (an extra $1,000 coming in May 27th from the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Assn PAC of Fredrick, MD).

A fine final reporting period for Tyler Gernant leading up to the Jume 8th primary - and on the heals of a very successful last reporting quarter, as I noted in this post (from 4&20), titled Real Analysis of the Gernant/McDonald Democratic Primary $.

Momentum means a lot - and sadly, it does and will take money to take unseat Dennis Rehberg.  With Gernant outraising his opponents the last two reporting periods, and with more cash on hand, Gernant is showing the organization and the steam needed to win Montana's lone congressional seat for the Democrats.

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

Analyis of Rehberg's False Statements on the Deficit This Week

by: Montana Cowgirl

Sun May 23, 2010 at 21:43:06 PM MST

Most of Dennis Rehberg's answers to the Clark Fork Chronicle questionnaire to all Republican congressional candidates could be called at best "creative" if he hadn't used them so often.  

For example, his third most ridiculous claim in the questionnaire was:

I am a fifth-Generation Montana rancher from Billings.

When in reality, we know that Rehberg is a wealthy trust-funder who inherited millions then turned the family ranch into a subdivision.  In fact, Rehberg is so used to the finer things in life that he tried several times to stick us with the $54 million dollar bill for elite luxury gulf-stream jets to fly lawmakers around. The ultimate luxury perk, these jets are powered Rolls-Royce engines and feature divans that transform into double beds, telephones, pop-up 26 inch LCD monitors, fax machines, DVD players, multiple oversized restrooms and a full service galley.

His second most ridiculous claim was this:

Yet, in just one year of controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, national Democrats have quadrupled the national deficit as a share of the economy.

THE FACTS:  

During rehberg's first term in office, the deficit as a share of the economy quadrupled, during his second term it more than doubled again.  In fact, under Dennis Rehberg's watch (not even including the last year he mentions above) the national deficit has increased by 1000% (ten times) as a share of the economy. You can see it for yourself here.  

Oh, and under Obama's first year in office, the deficit has nowhere near quadrupled.

I'll present his most ridiculous claim in a future post.  

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Rehberg's Latest Lie Totally Exposed

by: Montana Cowgirl

Tue May 11, 2010 at 19:47:05 PM MST

You've already read on this blog how Rehberg and his staff proved themselves liars when Jed Link, a clown and a liar for Rehberg, said he "doesn't believe" a different kind of alcohol policy would have prevented the accident that seriously injured two members of Rehberg's own staff.

"The staff members "were not working."

Rehberg's hack "doesn't believe it" because it is a blatant lie.  

Some friends of mine from DC were in town this weekend visiting, and over dinner we were talking about local politics.  Both friends had worked for members of Congress in years past--one for more than 10 years.  They found the recent story about Rehberg, the accident and the alcohol issues "absolutely mind-blowingly ludacris."  
 
They filled me in on what it means to work for a member of Congress and why Rehberg's actions then and now are indefensible.  
 
The part of the latest Rehberg story infuriated them the most was the claim that the staff "weren't on the clock."  They told me that when they were staffing their "member," they were always on the clock - and not just because they are salaried. It was their job to stick to her or him like glue, no matter the time, place or situation.  That's they whole reason they were hired.
 
They said it doesn't matter whether or not it was a "working dinner."  When a staffer is with the "member" - s/he is working.  Reporters are welcome to ask this of any congressional staffer anywhere.  Apparently, this is how it is in every state.  Period. End of story.

Second, Rehberg has a responsibility for his staff, he shouldn't put them in dangerous situations where they really can't walk away.  He obviously doesn't want to admit his staffers were obviously staffing him, because according to the Department of Labor: 

"Employers also have a general duty under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards."

What kind of choice were those two staffers offered?  Get in the boat being driven by a drunk, or abandon the Congressman, embarrassing him in front of Barkus, and then figure out how to get back to Bigfork on foot?  Risk their jobs?

Rehberg put his staff in serious danger and he has never taken responsibility for it. Apparently, in no other state would Rehberg have been allowed to get away with this.  But here in Montana, when you combine Rehberg's absurd sense of big-fish-in-a-small-pond entitlement, with a compliant editorial corps that wants its reporters to function as stenographers rather than journalists, you get a big ol' liar and the merry band of liars with whom he's chosen to surround himself.

Discuss :: (22 Comments)

Conflicted

by: I can't fight this feeling

Sat May 08, 2010 at 06:39:58 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

A story appeared in the Missoulian this week that purports to be about, "A criminal case certain to reveal the details of an August boat wreck - in which a congressman and a state senator were badly injured."

In what has become the norm, the reporter covering the story sought comment from college professors who, because of their profession, are apparently political experts.  But this "expert" has an interesting story:

In addition to teaching at Billings, Wilson has a somewhat direct tie to Rehberg - "my son is his political director."

It should stop there.  This alone should disqualify Prof. Wilson from weighing in on anything that Rep. Rehberg does.  His son's success at work is directly tied to "independent" sources saying nice things about the congressman.  Ask yourself this: if you needed work done on your truck, would you seek a referral from a mechanics mother?

Because of countless ethical conflictions, no reporter should ask for comment from this guy.  And for the sake of his own reputation, he should refrain from giving any.

And then it gets worse:

Wilson believes the general race likely will pit McDonald against Rehberg.  Rehberg's camp, he predicts, will make much of McDonald's reported ties to the Mafia (McDonald was once the lawyer for the acting boss of the West Coast Cosa Nostra crime family.)

All of the potential conflicts that I conjured up earlier just came true.  In a story that is supposed to be about a drunken boat ride/crash that Congressman Rehberg was in, Rehberg's chief attack on his opponent was just introduced.  It had nothing to do with when Rehberg and his pals need to appear in court.  It had nothing to do with what the story was about.  And it was introduced not by Rehberg or a spokesperson for him.

IT WAS INTRODUCED BY THE "INDEPENDENT" PROFESSOR.

Wilson could have - and may have - been reading talking points put together by his son.  If you don't believe that, you're not paying attention.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Gernant Makes Coal a Primary Issue Against McDonald

by: Matt Singer

Thu May 06, 2010 at 10:48:59 AM MST

Interesting press release just hit my inbox from the Gernant campaign, hitting McDonald hard on his support for developing Otter Creek (going so far as to call it "Palinesque"):
At a recent candidate forum at the University of Montana, McDonald said unequivocally that he supports coal mining in Montana's Otter Creek area, stating "I have been very much in favor of developing all of our resources; coal should be a big part of it." Gernant responded, "I thought I was in a Democratic primary, but it sounds like I'm running against Sarah Palin.  McDonald is using the same rhetoric to describe his energy policy that Sarah Palin used to describe her backward-thinking ideas for America's energy future."
Otter Creek is at the forefront of a lot of folks' minds. And as the last vote on the state land board indicated, the Democratic Party is very much divided on the question.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The sad state of the Democratic House primary

by: Jay Stevens

Mon May 03, 2010 at 13:17:37 PM MST

So Pete Talbot wrote up a post on a guerrilla video ambush of Dennis McDonald in which he fumbled terribly when confronted with the Jimmy Weasel story the right's trying (pretty successfully) to push as McDonald's narrative for this race.

Yeah, McDonald looked unready for this race. But then that video was shot on October 26, 2009, and I suspect that was the first he had ever encountered that line of attack. If this happened today - after McDonald had his say on the matter - I'd say the candidate McDonald was cooked.

Thoughts:

For starters, hand it to the GOP. It's sticking. It's got to the point that even Democratic challengers are piggybacking on it. And it's got to be considered in the "electable" arguments that always rear up this time of the primary race.

For another, it's interesting that Rehberg et al went after McDonald so soon. They've been building this narrative for months. Not sure what that means. Maybe they saw him as the biggest threat. Maybe they just slammed him as soon as they got the idea.

And lastly, it's a sad state of affairs when this is the biggest story of the primary so far. In the next couple of days, I'll investigate the candidates and report back...hopefully we can do something more substantial before the primary, too.

Have to say - I'm completely undecided on this race.

Which reminds me: in the past, we've had advocates for primary candidates write posts here on Left in the West. This year is no different. If you want to write something up about McDonald, or Gopher, or Gernant - or about any primary candidate - sign in, write a diary, and I'll promote it. If you have questions or want me to look over your post before you submit it, email me...

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Fundraising Analysis of the 2010 Democratic Congressional Primary Race

by: Montana Cowgirl

Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 17:46:10 PM MST

If you believe that people who are from Montana, who have a real interest in this state and have actually set foot on Montana soil should be influencing the outcome of our elections, you'll be interested in this.

Here are the most recent Democratic congressional candidate fundraising totals based on the FEC reports as of April 24, 2010:

Dennis McDonald (D) $139,261
Tyler Gernant (D)  $103,014
Sam Rankin (D)  $8,639
Melinda Gopher (D) $ 0

Of the candidates, the top recipient of in-state contributions was Dennis McDonald, while the top recipient of out-of-state cash was Tyler Gernant, according to Open Secrets.

They report that McDonald raised twice as much in-state money as Gernant. That's more money from actual constituents who will be represented by the winner of this contest, people who care the most about its outcome.

It says something that McDonald has more money, but where the money comes from also speaks volumes.  

Discuss :: (20 Comments)

MT-AL: Gopher kicks primary to life

by: Jay Stevens

Wed Apr 21, 2010 at 07:10:39 AM MST

Jhwygirl's post covering Democratic House candidate Melinda Gopher's shot at primary opponent Dennis McDonald seems to have kicked the otherwise lackluster House Democratic primary to life.

Gopher accused McDonald of manipulating "state party strategy to position himself for this race"; suggested that he, as chair of the state Democratic party "underfunded" 2008 Democratic House candidate John Driscoll; that, although unpopular with rank-and-file Democrats, is receiving the "lion's share" of donations because of his "skin color and gender"; and said he's "unelectable" because of the GOP narrative around his legal work in California.

For me, Gopher jumped the shark on this post. For starters, it showed gross ignorance about state politics - how can you accuse Dennis McDonald of orchestrating a 2010 run at the House by denying state party funds to 2008 House Democratic candidate, John Driscoll, when Driscoll refused to take any money for his campaign? Or refused to campaign, for that matter? (And Gopher isn't even sure if Driscoll was a Republican or Democrat in that race.) Driscoll's leisurely run at Rehberg's seat was one of the most irresponsible campaigns I've ever witnessed, a wasted opportunity at extricating a do-nothing regressive Republican from Montana's sole House seat - but all of the blame lies on Driscoll, none on McDonald.

Sure, McDonald may have positioned himself for this race - but that's how you win party nominations. Working for the rank-and-file wins you support from the rank-and-file...and their donations. Race and gender may have played a part in fund-raising, but Denise Juneau showed you can raise money and win contentious primaries if you do the work and you're a quality candidate.

Yes, Ms. Gopher, wouldn't it be great if ideas were the only currency in an election? But until that day, you still need to do the groundwork to raise money and win votes. Otherwise your beautiful ideas will have to shine on the sidelines.

Whatever. Here's Pete Talbot's lovely summation of the three House candidates:

So who gets the nod? The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman [Melinda Gopher] - who's underfunded and not well-connected (outside of tribal politics) and is a party outsider? The other new face - the policy-smart, well-organized and politically savvy candidate with a potentially great future in Montana Democratic politics (but has a less than passionate campaign thus far) [Tyler Gernant]? Or the established, out front, Montana rancher who is the best known and may have the best demographic appeal but, is also considered a party insider (and has received the most press, both positive and negative)? [Dennis McDonald]

Yup. That's pretty much it.

Discuss :: (33 Comments)

The Rehberg Fundraising Puzzle

by: Montana Cowgirl

Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 12:17:37 PM MST

Quietly taking place over the last 9 months is a strange political phenomenon. Denny Rehberg is spending almost every dollar he raises.

He filed for reelection long ago, and had about $700K in the bank leftover from his previous campaign. Since then,  has raised $816k and spent $706k.  Worse, in the last calendar year, he's spent virtually every nickel that he has raised.  For example, his quarterly FEC report, filed last week, shows that in the last quarter he raised 153K and spent 160K. That pattern extends back through the last several quarters.  The expenditures are highly gratuitous--huge payments to consultants and operatives and media firms and mail houses and research firms--totally out of line with normal campaign expenditures you'd expect at this point in a campaign, showing absolutely no effort whatsoever to conserve funds.

A new candidate with great fundraising prowess but a poor understanding of how to manage a campaign's finances might engage in careless spending like this. In fact John McCain was bankrupt in late 2007 because he had pissed away money on staff and consultants unnecessarily. It happens.  But Rehberg is a veteran campaigner and has not done anything like this before.

It is even more peculiar when you consider that Rehberg is the presumptive challenger to Tester in 2012, and every nickel he can save in this year's race can, under federal law, be carried over to a Senate campaign.  Since he probably won't have to spend much against Gopher, McDonald or Gernant, (neither of which has any money in the bank), he would be saving every penny so he could start out against Tester with a giant war-chest.  

So why would he be burning through money like he is, with crazy line-items, paying $6K a month to his campaign manager (to a kid who'd probably do it for 2K), $4 grand a month to a media consultant, $6.5K a month to Erik Iverson's consulting firm, IS LLC, and tens of thousands in charges at resorts in Las Vegas and Big Sky and lots of other things like that?  

One explanation: He is going to run for Governor.

Under this theory, everything makes perfect sense. He cannot carry over money from a federal campaign to a state campaign. So, rather than hoard money that will not be usable in his next campaign, he's doing a shady, borderline-illegal, but clever thing: overpaying people, his consultants, his campaign staff, firms, etc., essentially using federal money to pre-pay for what he will need when he runs for Governor.  

All these people will give him a heavily discounted rate (wink) for their services in 2012, because they will have been previously and handsomely compensated. Heck, they might even work for free (wink) because they like him so much.

And remember, too, that a Gubernatorial candidate can only raise money in $600 increments (per-donor contribution limit), whereas a Congressional candidate can raise in $2300 increments. so to be able to off-load expenses with easy-to-come-by federal campaign cash is a luxury.  And yes, it's easy to come by.  As we all know, when you are an incumbent Congressman, special interests in DC write you checks even if you don't ask for them. You don't raise money--you simply collect.

So I'm putting down a bet at Ladbrokes. R nominee in 2012 for Gov is Denny Rehberg.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)
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