Three Republican state legislators defeated in the June 3 primary election said Thursday that they were the victims of "last-minute, sleazy" campaign attacks and are launching write-in bids to reclaim their seats this fall.
Republican state Rep. Michael Lange on Saturday threw another wrinkle into an already twisted U.S. Senate race in Montana, announcing that he will run as a write-in candidate...
Lange said if he wins the election, he'll make [Anton] Pearson his state director...
Another unsuccessful candidate in the U.S. Senate primary, Missoula accountant Patty Lovaas, said last week that she has distributed petitions in an effort to get 9,600 signatures of registered voters to quality as an independent candidate.
Bob Kelleher, the surprise Republican U.S. Senate nominee, won't be allowed to address the 400 delegates at the state GOP convention in Missoula this week, but he has been offered a side room for an hour to meet with anyone interested...
Kelleher learned of the decision from a reporter Wednesday after canceling a scheduled meeting with Iverson on Tuesday.
The campaign of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain says it is sticking with former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns as its state chairman, following his comments last week that McCain was not his first choice.
Earlier Thursday, Montana GOP officials had said Burns was being replaced as the campaign's speaker at the state party convention this week in Missoula.
On the eve of an expected floor fight over national convention delegates between backers of John McCain and Ron Paul, Montana Republican chairman Erik Iverson said Thursday that the GOP's philosophical diversity is good but that delegates must unite afterward.
Let's see. We have a candidate for the U.S. Senate whom we never wanted but who won fair and square. We can:
1. Give the guy the five minutes at the convention podium that he has earned and then let everybody have dessert.
2. Turn our dissatisfaction into a front-page news story that makes us look more divided and inept than ever.
(Iverson, on putting Kelleher into a side room: "We're not turning Bob Kelleher away. I'm going to come in and visit him." Golly, that's sure some consolation prize!)
To be fair to Iverson, Kelleher doesn't fit the mold of a typical Montana Republican. On the other hand, 26,789 Montanans pulled for Kelleher in the Republican primary. Surely a few of them will hear of Iverson's clumsy treatment of Kelleher.
Frankly, the Republican Senate race is a mess. Electing Kelleher to challenge Baucus was bad enough. Now it looks like Lange's write-in candidacy and Patty Lovaas' legal challenge to allow her to run as an independent promise to keep this race in the headlines. (Check out MH's take on Lange's and Lovaas' challenges for a rightie's perspective.)
I'm sure Iverson would like to stick all of these folks in a side room, the electoral equivalent of the back table at a wedding, where you hide your embarrassing relatives.
Safe: Dennis Rehberg. Montana's sole U.S. Representative has a relatively low re-elect number right now (52%), but his main opponent Jim Hunt is only picking up 20% of the vote right now. This occurs despite virtually no name recognition. And those numbers are such that it is possible that this could turn into a race. But for now, it is safe.
Safer: Brian Schweitzer. While Montana Republicans would like to think that the Governor's race will heat up, Schweitzer is polling higher than Rehberg. Roy Brown is also polling higher than Jim Hunt -- a reflection of the still general truth in Montana that Republicans have a higher baseline.
Safest: Max Baucus. No one is touching this guy. He's got better than 2:1 leads over both Kirk Bushman and Mike Lange. Against Bushman, his slightly tougher opponent, he draws 90% of D votes, 64% of Independents, and a third of Republicans. As the pollster said, he would have to screw up big time to be in danger. After thirty years in the U.S. Senate, that seems pretty unlikely.
Interesting bottom line? The two narrowest statewide victories at the top of the ticket could be President and U.S. House -- with McCain and Rehberg the likely victors.
What does this mean? Well, it might mean that Dems have more cover than usual down-ticket, despite the (extremely mildly) bad news for Democratic legislative candidates in the polling released yesterday. Or it may mean nothing. Montanans are notorious ticket-splitters. They likely will continue to split those tickets in a big way this year.
Is it Kirk Bushman, who says he's going to "apply a dose of rationality to the Senate," citing his experience as a software engineer as proof? (I'll pause here while those here that actually know software engineers can pick themselves up off the floor and catch their collective breath.)
Or is it Patty Lovaas, whose campaign is "symbolic"?
Mike Lange certainly made his case, saying he "plans to force [Baucus] to run the equivalent of 100 state legislative races" - whatever that means -- and to debate a cardboard cutout of the senior Senator. Oh, and he wants to "eliminate" the National Environmental Policy Act and personally round up 11 million illegal aliens.
Or do we root for Anton Pearson, who's running "a campaign of faith" to "take our country back from the socialists," which includes trying college professors for treason?
Gosh. It's really quite a field, isn't it? No one really stands out. I know Matt's pulling for Kelleher, but you've got to like Pearson's moxie.
One of the U.S. Senate candidates hoping to unseat Max Baucus in the fall has an outstanding warrant in Indiana for failing to appear in court as part of his probation on charges of stalking, harassment and invasion of privacy.
Shay Joshua Garnett, a political unknown who filed to run in the crowded Republican primary, was being sought by Purdue University Police Department for failing to meet the requirements of his sentence. Court records show Garnett spent about eight months in jail after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges.
"It seems like every time (Baucus) opens his mouth, he just really rubs me the wrong way," Shay Joshua Garnett, who has never run for political office, told the Billings Gazette.
Looking at the list of Republican candidates, is there anyone who's serious here? Who's the frontrunner? Kirk Bushman? I'm saying that only because he appears to be the sole candidate that needs neither medication nor anger management classes. (I can see his bumper sticker now: "Bushman: well-adjusted!")
Dennis Rehberg saw fit recently to attack Bill Kennedy's recent fundraising figures, saying the Yellowstone County Commissioner is not raising money quickly enough to be a threat (the fact that he is attacking so often is raising doubts in my mind, to say the least).
So it is probably time to compare the fundraising strength of the various committees. Dennis Rehberg is indeed raising money faster than Kennedy. Rehberg has raised a little over $400,000 this year. Kennedy has raised nearly $180,000. Kennedy's performance is neither stellar nor lackluster. We'll see what numbers goes up in Q4 before making a judgment.
On the Senate side, the numbers are starker. Max Baucus has raised $7.4 million. Mike Lange has raised $3,000, I think.
In the Governor's race, Schweitzer has raised nearly $800,000. He has no GOP competition.
The Democratic Party's Federal Account has $150,000 in cash on hand. The Republican's has a little over $37,000.
I'm not sure where the state accounts are at. But you look at all the money being raised and the Democrats over-all are beyond competitive.
Anyone have the numbers for the state parties or the legislative committees?
Meanwhile, no Republican has stepped forward to challenge Schweitzer, and Baucus' sole challenger - Mike Lange - has raised $5,000.
Now, putting aside the issue of the role that money - wrongly, IMHO - plays in U.S. elections, that's good news for Montana Democrats. That kind of financial backing that early should scare off challengers, and Schweitzer and Baucus can concentrate on the statewide ticket.
Wow. Rep. Mike Lange is going after Max Baucus on the war. There's not a lot of substance to his charges, unless Lange wants to announce his support of Reid-Feingold. But it's worth noting that the only Republican running for U.S. Senate right now is vehemently opposed to staying in Iraq.
In the letter, he rails against public debt and big government programs, but in the same breath advocates spending increases for...*gasp*...folks who need it:
I'm certain that all those billions could be better used by seniors on fixed incomes or young families trying to buy a home or working folks to pay their bills or students who pay their own tuition or a small business struggling to survive, but that debt keeps getting bigger by the day.
Okay...you want to lower debt by...spending the money we're currently spending...what, Mikey? the war? big corporations? on the elderly, young couples, and students... I can dig that.
But then comes this:
I won't play the pandering game in Washington D.C. I will vote to lower your taxes, your cost of living and federal spending. I will defend your rights, your jobs, our borders and our Constitution. I will put Americans first because most of us still believe in America.
I'm sure the socialist-obstructionists out there won't be thrilled with my candidacy. Oh well, it's another day in America.
It's a mish-mash of ideas, that's for sure. How in hell can he vote to lower our cost of living? Is this an argument for subsidized housing? Universal health care? He's apparently against free trade, maybe.
What a jumbled and incoherent list of policies! Basically he's trying to give us everything he imagines he wants in one breathless letter. I'm surprised he didn't add ponies, free beer, and boob jobs to the list.
Montana Main St. linked to the campaign finances data of the 2006 Montana legislative races, and two numbers popped out at me:
That's the amount Bill Nooney spent to win his Missoula House seat. It was the third-most amount spent in all of the House races across the state. His opponents - in the primary and general elections - spent a total of $10,139.
First, that's not so hot outspending two opponents 3-to-1 to win your seat by 400 votes.
Second, that sets the fundraising bar pretty high for a challenger for the next election. Not that a challenger has to match Nooney's money, given his voting record, but it'll still require a strong commitment to win that seat.
That's the amount of cash Mike Lange solicited for his winning legislative bid. Money ain't everything, but it'll take a cool $4 million to even make a noise in the upcoming Senate race. 9K is a long way from 4M. Can he do it?
To give an idea of what it takes to unseat a longstanding incumbent, Jon Tester spent $5.5 million in 2006 to unseat a Senator embroiled in scandal and who ran with his foot in his mouth.
Well, here's an interesting endorsement. State Senator John Brueggeman (R-Polson) says that if Mike Lange is the Republican nominee, he's pulling the lever for Max Baucus. And Erik Iverson's response is, "Senator Brueggeman is a good senator and a sharp guy, and he's entitled to his own opinion."
Iverson says the party will back their candidate, but apparently not so much as to ask that others in the party with problems bite their tongues. Man, that hurts.
The Rocky Mountain Report, a new pan-Western progressive blog, provides some analysis. This comes right after reports that Max Baucus is preventing permanent middle class tax cuts in order to avoid increasing taxes on the super rich. And this morning, we're greeted with news that Max Baucus says a trade agreement with Colombia, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, "is very important." He promises to get the agreement passed.
As many of you know, disgraced Republican Mike Lange entered the Montana Senate race last Friday. Why on earth did he announce on a Friday? So he could enjoy all that sexy Saturday press that no one would read, of course. It's like Lange said, 'Bob Schaffer in Colorado had a stumbling, embarrassing entry into his Senate race. Let's copy that!'
Then, earlier this week, Republican rancher Rex Rammell announced that he would be entering the Idaho Senate race, regardless of primary challengers, and seemingly expecting a Larry Craig retirement and a Jim Risch entry (with which I agree). Anyway, it appears that, despite Rammell being far less known in Idaho than Lange is in Montana, and despite the fact that Rammell will be a primary underdog while Lange could very well be the Republican nominee-to-be, it seems that Rammell got more positive press for his Senate race entry than Lange did for his.
Makes Lange look pretty bad by comparison and his nascent campaign pretty inept. Just food for thought.
Lange has some hurdles to climb, to say the least:
--He's most known for his outburst against a governor with an approval rating in the 60s.
--He was one of the "13 mutineers," and is likely seen as someone who betrayed his party.
--He was ousted as House Majority Leader by his own party.
That is, he's not popular in his own party, and Montanans know him best at his worst.
Can you find the money quote in the Hill report?
When speculation about him heated up last week, however, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) wasted little time in reminding everyone about Lange's fall from grace, deeming him "not fit for the Senate" in a detailed release on Friday.
The release also noted that Lange defaulted on about $75,000 in loans last month.
Lange said the situation should be resolved by the end of the week or soon after. He also said the DSCC release shows how seriously he's being taken and noted that Democrats have it out for him because he used to be a Democrat.
Lange is a 27-year union member as well, and he said he can take labor, blue-collar and outdoors voters from Baucus.
"That's flat-out a sign of fear," Lange said. "They're probably more afraid of me than they are of anybody else in the state."
Right now, despite Lange's hubris, the burning question swirling about the 2008 Montana Senate race isn't whether Lange can actually win this race. What everybody's wondering is if the Montana GOP is going to actually challenge this seat and run someone who has a shot.
Here's some hilarity: Brad Johnson has taken issue with Brian's recommendation that BBI go "ride a kangaroo" after getting 86ed by the Public Service Commission. Such rhetoric could scare off foreign investors, who apparently can't take a joke.
A few thoughts on this:
Even Johnson is basically supportive of the PSC's decision, so why is he worried we'd scare away more people like BBI?
The Australians laughed at the line according to the AP reporting, noting they've got a better sense of humor than our secretary of state.
Picturing someone riding a kangaroo is funny.
Meanwhile, in an article dealing with some business woes of Mike Lange's, I thought the end of the piece was worth highlighting:
And the recent troubles aren't curbing his ambitions to seek higher office next year - by running against Schweitzer or Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.
"Absolutely, I am. I will run," he said.
When asked for which which position, he said "Which race?" with a laugh, "You'll find out when I file. Read it in the paper."
That's right. He told a reporter to read about his announcement in the paper. hmmm....
Rep. Mike Lange was just knocked out of leadership. Ostensibly this was done because of his outburst on YouTube, but the timing seems off for that to be the reason. Might this have more to do with the fact that Mike Lange had a hell of a tongue, but also ultimately cut a deal with the Gov.? This looks like the Republicans trying to punish moderation again to me. This strange 'graf in the story sums it up:
But others said the profanity-laced tirade from Lange was too much to overcome. It was obvious in recent weeks that House Speaker Scott Sales was not on the same page with Lange.
A lot of these same legislators defended the "profanity-laced tirade." The second sentence of the paragraph is a completely different reason for making the move. I'd like to see the roll call for that particular vote.
Mark Simonich left the Secretary of State's office in a hurry. I've heard a lot of chatter from folks wondering what the story is here. For the record, I have no clue. Off the record, I have no clue. But a resignation effective the day it was made in order to "pursue other opportunities" is downright strange. We'll see what happens here.
Ed Kemmick and David Sirota having a back-and-forth on the session.
Ed is ultimately calling for a truce in the war of words. I respond in his comments, but some of it is worth highlighting:
Meanwhile, Democratic leadership in the legislature is working to get a sit-down meeting in Billings with Republican leadership to hammer out some details - and if the Dems and the GOP in the leg can work out a deal, the Governor will basically have to come along for the ride. But the Dems aren't even sure that House GOP leadership, consisting of the Sideshow and the Madman, will bother to come.
Anyways, it's pretty important to remember when the war of words started, since people seem to think that it was started by the all-powerful liberal bloggers. It wasn't. It was Sales and Lange who from day one insisted that their job was to obstruct, to declare war, and to break their own campaign promises as need be.
The difference between liberal bloggers and the mainstream press was that most of us liberal bloggers had the audacity to take the Speaker at his word. He's following through on those promises now. We still seem to be the only ones noticing.
Now, there's a fair response to this -- that pointing fingers doesn't help anyone. And I'd agree, if Sales and Lange were actually interested in coming to the table and working with Democratic leadership.
But it just doesn't make any sense now to pretend that Sales and Lange are being anything close to responsible. They keep demanding things of other people without asking anything of themselves.
I think Ed knows this, too. He and I have pretty different perspectives, but a fairly recurring theme on his site is the need for responsibility. Republican leadership in the House pretty clearly still needs to learn what that means.
And they need to stop simply demanding that other people clean up their messes for them.
I had a post mostly written, parts of which I'll try to reconstruct later, but I managed to hit the "delete" key which my browser sometimes interprets as "Go Back" and lost everything.
Please, though, go read this article. Senate President Mike Cooney has proposed a meeting with bipartisan leadership of both chambers to make sure the upcoming special session isn't what we call in the business a big fucking waste of time and money.
The response? Hemming and hawing from the usual suspects -- Scott Sales, Mike Lange, and John Sinrud. These are three guys who could not be more constitutionally averse to leadership. On the first day of the session, they apparently got a new "Job Description" that consisted of the following points:
Make personal attacks.
The difference between House GOP leadership and Homer Simpson building a BBQ is that Homer tried. That's where these jokers are now -- bigger punchlines than the dumbest man in the history of television.
William F. Buckley points to the war in Iraq, which now polls at roughly the same level as George W. Bush (hint: they're both now unpopular -- and so unpopular that they'll probably soon hit a net negative approval rating in Utah).
There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.
I cite Buckley mostly because I think some folks will take his views on this seriously, but also because I think he's right.
This is a moment of crisis for the GOP. It's unique in Montana, where the child-like leaders in the House refused to appoint conference committees, screamed "bad faith" at their opponents, offered no counteroffers, and then blamed the whole thing on everyone else.
Oh, right, and confused negotiations with bribery in profanity-filled diatribes caught on video.
There's an opening here for people who want to take it -- either organizing and getting involved in primaries in their party or simply launching a new effort. The former is in some ways easier, but in some ways tougher (there's clearly still a significant base in the GOP quite pleased with where they are at).
Still -- it's a fair question. Between the war and Montana House Majority Leader Blutarsky -- can the GOP survive this mess?