Okay. Here's the rest of the races Mike Dennison mentioned in his report on the 10 races to watch on election day. These are the Republican-held seats that could flip Democratic.
SD 25 (north-central Billings): Easily the most-watched, most-expensive legislative race in the state, with Democratic Rep. Kendall Van Dyk mounting an aggressive, well-financed challenge to Republican Sen. Roy Brown, who's trying to win a second term. Van Dyk has unleashed a torrent of attack mail against Brown, labeling the former oil developer a tool of "big oil" and other business interests. Brown is striking back by casting Van Dyk, a staffer for Trout Unlimited, as an environmental ideologue bent on killing resource jobs.
If you haven't heard about this race, you're probably living under a rock, politically speaking. The most contested race of the 2010 election. And ugly, to boot.
In contrast, his opponent, the former oil executive Roy Brown was named by the League of Conservation Voters as one of the nation's "dirty dozen" state-level legislators, a dubious honor to say the least. And in a disturbing turn of events, the state senator recently abandoned his usual moderate stance on issues, and tacked hard right this election cycle, courting Nutcase Koopman and backing
the faulty lawsuit against the recent healthcare bill. And a quick swing through our archives will remind you of Brown's ill-fated and polarizing bid for governor in 2008, which he lost by 35 points and barely edged out a candidate who refused to run and endorsed his opponent, and a perennial parliamentarian candidate of dubious faculties.
It's easy to forget in all the Sturm und Drang surrounding this race that Kendall Van Dyk is the candidate that has an actual history of bipartisanship and compromise in passing legislation that benefits all Montanans, while Brown has steadily and noisily shifted to the right to consolidate his base and woo the Tea Party.
Van Dyk for SD 25.
HD24 (northeast Great Falls, Malmstrom Air Force Base): Republican state Rep. Brian Hoven, who won a close, surprise victory in 2008 in this district that leans Democratic, faces a challenge from well-known teacher and coach Gary Lucero, a Democrat.
This is what I wrote about Brian Hoven in 2008: "Brian Hoven is a businessman and the Chair of the Cascade Republican Party; he ran once for SD12, advocating for Great Fall's coal-burning plant. He wants to eliminate property taxes (d*mn the schools!), slash taxes for business, put a cap on medical lawsuits, favors prayer in school, school vouchers, and is pro-choice. The usual big business Republican." To be fair to Hoven, he was one of the few House Republicans to buck his party's leadership and supported the implementation of CHIP expansion in the last legislature.
HD47 (Billings Heights): Democrat Pam Ellis, a retired schoolteacher and principal, is trying to pick up this open seat held by a retiring Republican. Her opponent is Republican James Knox, a tea party favorite and operator of a computer business.
Pam Ellis is a Billings native and a retired elementary school teacher with, naturally, a strong platform and promise to be an advocate of education. She's also a proponent of home energy efficiency, renewable energy, and a balanced budget.
Frankly, the choice is friggin' clear, even if you're a Republican. Ellis.
HD77 (Jefferson County): This largely rural district between Helena and Butte has long been held by Republicans, but Democrats hope Sheila Hogan of Clancy can put the now-open seat in their column. Hogan, who runs a job skills program in Helena, narrowly lost a race here four years ago to Rep. Scott Mendenhall, R-Clancy. Her opponent this time is bar owner Alan Hale of Basin.
Here's what I wrote about this race: "HD 77 stretches over much of Jefferson county, and includes a slice of Helena. Here, born-and-bred Butte-ian and miner's daughter, Sheila Hogan, is battling a "constitutional Republican" looking to hand over the keys of the state to multi-national extraction and energy corporations. Hogan is the executive director of the Career Training Institute, and a long-time advocate for jobs in the state, which makes her the ideal candidate in this economic slump marred by joblessness." Hogan!
Check out the the HD 77 profile in the Helena IR, and the interviews with the candidates by KXLH.
HD100 (west Missoula County): Democrat Willis Curdy, a retired teacher and former smokejumper who lost narrowly in this district two years ago, is running again, this time for an open seat. Banker Champ Edmunds is trying to keep the seat Republican.
Willis Curdy was the last-minute replacement candidate (for the stricken Democratic primary winner) to tackle Bill Nooney in Missoula's sole GOP-controlled House district, HD100. This time around he's not only had time to prepare for the election, he's battling for an open seat after Nooney's withdrawal from public service.
Curdy's a fave of the b'birders - a "4th generation Montanan, small business owner, retired high school teacher and retired smokejumper." (I wonder what was harder, the parachuting into wildfires or managing teenagers...) He's running to protect public lands and on a platform of job creation. Edmunds, a banker and Navy vet, just isn't up to snuff.
I'm not a huge fan of engaging in stupid campaign trash talk and "gotcha" moments...except, well, I saw this letter from Gary Marbut in the Missoula Independent:
Texas legislator Dr. Suzanne Gratia-Hupp said, "How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual...as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of."
Every election cycle we see candidates with marginal commitment to gun owners doing a masquerade intended to deceive voters....
Don't get sucked in by the photo op candidates who borrow a shotgun for a campaign photo. In Montana we call that "All hat and no cows." Check candidates out carefully or trust MSSA and the NRA to have done a good job evaluating candidates for you. As Dr. Gratia-Hupp implies, a candidate's true attitude about your gun rights is a litmus for much else about that candidate.
The letter's a swipe at progressive gun rights groups that identify access to wilderness as a gun issue - something Marbut and the NRA don't care much about because...well...because those groups aren't Republican. Whatever. We'll get back to that. But this letter immediately made me think of this:
At first glance it's simply a campaign photo of Roy in hunting garb, holding some dead geese. The impression we are supposed to get is that Roy is a sportsman, a big bird-hunter, who will defend the rights of other sportsmen, by wearing his camouflage, his boots and his dorky looking outfit. The photo is now on his state campaign website, where he uses it to imply his "conservative" hunting and gun and outdoor credentials....
But alas for poor Roy, there is an unfortunate fact that has been revealed: Roy never hunted in Montana in recorded history (as far back as hunting license information is obtainable, which is to 1989) until 2006 when, coincidentally, he began preparing for his Governor's run and also faced a rare Senate challenge, from Margie McDonald who had big Dem support.
Now, frankly, I don't give a rat's *ss whether Roy Brown hunts or not, and I'm not getting all light-headed mulling over Kendall Van Dyk's upcoming You Tube video of him gutting and skinning an elk. Yes, I realize that a candidate hunts shows an appreciation for Montana wilderness, etc & co, tho' I think an avid hiker or rock climber or angler would feel much the same way. And doesn't everyone in Montana have a relationship to wilderness in one way or another? I mean, you have to if you life in the state.
But Gary Marbut cares! So, we'd expect him to endorse, not Roy Brown, the borrower of shotguns for photo-ops, but the guy who actually uses firearms, right? You'd be wrong! Marbut endorses the poseur over the hunter.
Why? Because Roy Brown is a Republican, and the Montana Shooting Sports Association, like the NRA is essentially a Republican PAC.
Don't believe me? Consider the NRA 2006 endorsing and fundraising on behalf of Conrad Burns. That was despite Tester's perfect record on the Second Amendment and his support of hunter-friendly conservation issues and opposition to the Patriot Act, unlike the Missouri auctioneer. Tester was clearly more in alignment with the NRA than Burns.
The Montana Hunters and Anglers PAC is apparently running a new TV ad in the race between Kendall Van Dyk and Roy Brown, using the increasingly infamous clip of Roy Brown talking about his friendly representation of insurance companies:
Senator Roy Brown has been called out by the national League of Conservation Voters as one of their state office "dirty dozen" -- the organization's highest dishonor.
Why did Roy Brown get called out? He opposed the state's renewable energy standard. He fought for a tax holiday for oil and gas companies, profiting out-of-state corporations while shifting taxes on to Montana homeowners.
Roy's opponent, state Rep. Kendall Van Dyk, will take a notably different approach on this front. Kendall is a lifelong conservationist, a farm kid, a dedicated sportsman, and one of the hardest workers in Montana politics.
A number of folks have emailed me of late asking for advice on where to throw a little spare change in Montana. There are lots of great candidates, but Roy Brown is raising a hell of a lot of money off oil industry interests and his fundraising network from his Governor's race. Kendall needs all the help he can get. Contribute to Kendall today!
...can be found in an email sent out by the Madison County GOP Chair Dan Happel this week. Since Happel encourages recipients to share and comment, I'll paste his entire email in the extended text for your commenting pleasure. To paraphrase, it appears that a "very conservative" Republican platform has gone even further to the right, and by further he means they've gone...birther.
I have no idea why this item of extreme interest was excluded from coverage by those reporting the convention According to Happel, the Montana Republican party passed a resolution
"for the requirement of complete documentation of candidate eligibility before candidates for President, Vice President, US Senators or Representatives can even be placed on the ballot."
Like the birther bill introduced (and going nowhere) in Congress, the Montana Republicans voted their support for requiring candidates to submit a birth certificate: a wink and a nod action that some Republicans are going to have to try to maintain is somehow not related to the birthers' claims. Hmmm...Republican candidates want to win the votes of the birthers, but still want to pretend not to actually be that stupid one of them.
This could get tricky. What if a Montana reporter asks the candidate if she or he agrees with this new tenant of the Montana GOP core platform? I mean look what happened when MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked one of the birther bill's sponsors on the show if he believed Mr. Obama is a natural born citizen, Rep. Campbell (R-CA) hedged, saying, "As far as I know, yes, OK?" He told Matthews, "it doesn`t matter whether I have doubts or not." Birther association also became an embarrassment for the Ohio GOP, and all they did wrong was have a speaker tell a birther joke at their convention--Montana Republicans added birtherism to the list of their fundamental beliefs.
I guess I am not at all shocked to find that the Republican Party is packed with birthers that still, still, have not figured out that our own president released his birth certificate like two years ago. But I am kind of surprised that the Republican party leadership were unable to quash this ridiculous addition to the platform that could be a real embarrassment for its candidates. It could also be evidence of growing internal division in their ranks and/or a general state of chaos.
It will be interesting to hear Rehberg publicly respond to questions about this from the media or in the final debate in Whitefish this weekend.
Read Happels entire missive in the extended text. There are lots of other gems in this that weren't in the paper...
Embattled GOP Chair Michael Steele chastised Montana Republicans for their lack of young people this week, when he appeared as the keynote speaker for the GOP platform convention in Billings. Apparently, as a (the only?) GOP staffer related on the MT GOP Facebook page, the party had first tried to get Michele Bachmann, but couldn't make it happen.
In addition to the usual political speech drivel, Steele told Montana Republicans that they needed to involve more young people.
"the next time you have this dinner, you need more of them in here. You need to go out, encourage, recruit and involve them. We are absolutely the party of tomorrow".
The party of tomorrow?
This is a party who prides itself in shunning modern science not only terms of creationism or "intelligent design" as they are trying to rebrand it now, but also a "disbelief" in climate change, and opposition to embryonic stem cell research. Not only do they cling to the ideologies of the past, but as the world changes they have no new ideas to meet new challenges.
Rehberg, the party's only top official, introduced no ideas in his speech, nor, one could argue, in his entire term in Congress. No solution of his own for health care, and no proposals of his own to stimulate the economy--except the ideas of the 1970s and 1980s. News Flash Montana Republicans: It's not the same world anymore.
Steele further chastised Republicans for their losing record in Montana races:
"You got two Democrat (U.S.) senators. Now, how the heck does that happen?" he said. "You gotta change that. You got a Democrat governor in Montana."
I'll tell you how it happens-and why few young people are remotely interested in Republicans. The Republican party is outdated and out of touch with the current world. Political ideologies do not exist in a vacuum. They need to meet the problems of the world as it exists. Democrats in Montana understand this, which may be why-despite our so-called red state status-they have been increasingly successful in Montana.
Say what you like about the Democrats we elected, at least they understand that a new world requires new thinking. As the world continues to evolve at an accelerating pace, conservatives, who instinctively hunker down and cling to the past, will find themselves increasingly outside of the mainstream.
Wowza -- the race between Kendall Van Dyk and Roy Brown is on track to be damn expensive.
Kendall is well on track to shatter records...except that Brown is shattering them even faster. Kendall already raised nearly $70,000. Brown already raised nearly $80,000.
Good news for progressives is that this race won't just be about money. Bad news is that we still gotta keep our guy competitive.
This will probably become a frequent plug on Left in the West, but if you have a chance, kick in another $25 on ActBlue to Kendall's campaign. He's got 133 supporters on ActBlue right now. I think we can bump that number up to 150 by the time the polls close tomorrow night.
Gotta say, I'm a big fan of this letter from Attorney General Steve Bullock to Republican legislators regarding their call for him to waste taxpayer resources on a ridiculous lawsuit.
Some of my favorite excerpts:
Like you, I take seriously my oath of office to "protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the state of Montana," as well as to "discharge the duties of my office with fidelity."
I have analyzed these claims as I analyze constitutional challenges to our own laws, with the understanding that overturning the constitutional judgment of a popularly elected legislature grave matter in a constitutional democracy.
Although your letter is short on legal specifics [...] [emphasis added]
As Justice Scalia explained in Raich, "[w]here necessary to make a regulation of interstate commerce effective, Congress may regulate even those intrastate activities that do not themselves substantially affect interstate commerce." Id. at 35 (Scalia, concurring).
The lawsuit you urge me to join does claim that States participating in the federal Medicaid program must provide coverage, but also concedes that States may "avoid the Act's requirements" by "drop[ping] out of the Medicaid program." Florida v. Sebelius, Complt. fl 40. Although this choice would leave millions of people uninsured, it is a choice any of the States may make if they disapprove of how Congress wants federal Medicaid funds spent, and this choice is consistent with the Tenth Amendment. See New York v. United States. 505 U.S. 144 (ree2).
But it is really the ending of the letter where Steve Bullock reminds Scott Sales not to try to play with the big kids where he is clearly out of his depth:
The lawsuit also presents serious standing and ripeness issues, given that it appears to be filed based more on the timing of the November 2010 elections than the date in2014 when individuals and states might first be subject to the Act's requirements.
Therefore, I have concluded that once you take the politics out of these issues, there is no credible constitutional claim. So, like nearly three-quarters of my Democratic and Republican colleagues in state Attorney General offices across the country, I have not joined the lawsuit. We are not alone in our bipartisan opposition to politicizing the Constitution and the courts in this way. Eighteen of your Republican counterparts in the United States Senate sponsored a similar health insurance reform bill in 1993, see 5.1770,103rd Cong. (1993), and I do not doubt their fidelity to their constitutional oath. Lawyers and constitutional scholars across the political spectrum have determined, as President Reagan's former Solicitor General Charles Fried has said, that the lawsuit is "simply a political ploy" without legal merit.
As legislators, you understand as much as any citizen the importance of resolving our heartfelt policy differences through the democratic process. Montana's decision not to join these lawsuits will not change the outcome if, contrary to nearly a century of precedent, the Supreme Court takes the surprising step of striking down this law and taking the country back to the days when the farm bill and social security were constitutionally suspect. Most importantly, however, Montana's decision not to join these lawsuits leaves these critical questions of national policy in the hands of "We the People" and our elected representatives, where these decisions belong.
State Senator Roy Brown is one of the 74 Republican lawmakers calling on Steve Bullock to waste his office's resources by joining other states in a likely futile lawsuit to strike down the new health care bill.
KULR-8 has the Billings Senator on video. In that clip, he makes two notable arguments, both of which are patently false:
First, that every single person in this country buy a product. There are huge classes of people not required to buy any product. Individuals insured through their employer or by another government program (including Medicaid, which will be available to all low-income Americans by the time the individual mandate kicks in) or for whom the purchase would represent a financial hardship are exempt from the mandate. In other words, the tax for not having insurance only applies to working Americans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and choose to remain uninsured. They pay an extra tax in exchange for having access to the insurance regulations and protections, like the end of pre-existing condition discrimination, available under the bill to all Americans.
If you don't buy insurance you get fined and if you don't get fined you go to jail. Actually the law explicitly prevents people from being jailed:
The law specifically says that no criminal action or liens can be imposed on people who don't pay the fine. If this actually leads to a world in which large numbers of people don't buy insurance and tell the IRS to stuff it, you could see that change. But for now, the penalties are low and the enforcement is non-existent.
Enforcement would occur through the holding of tax refunds or other mechanisms presumably in the meantime.
There are two things unfortunate about this. The first is that Roy Brown is calling for Montana taxpayers to spend a bunch of money pursuing crackpot legal theories based on his factually incorrect understanding of a law. The second is that KULR-8 didn't factcheck claims made by a partisan looking to score political points.
We all know the real glamour of American politics is what happens in campaigns for the White House, for the US Senate and for Congress. Those contests are followed by races for the Governor's Mansion and the amalgam of statewide races.
Races for the state legislature, on the other hand, tend to be tedious and boring. Some have said they would just as soon watch crabgrass grow or lead paint dry. But, alas, we have no presidential campaign and but one statewide race: Montana's lone Congressional seat. By the looks of how well the D candidates have appointed themselves so far, Denny will have a walk.
So, for you junkies, there are 126 legislative races this year. Normally, there would be 125, but Jesse Laslovich, who is a holdover Senator in the middle of his second four-year term, resigned his seat and state law requires the vacancy to be filled by an election.
Fewer than 15 will determine whether the GOP or the D's control the House and Senate next winter.
To begin, here are five Senate races that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.
R's currently have 27 seats. To have nominal control, the D's must add 2 seats to its current total of 23. That would create a tie. State law provides that the part of the governor is the 'majority' party. To have a real majority, the D's need to pick up 3 seats.
Race #1: Senate District 39. District includes East Helena, Boulder, Whitehall. Terry Murphy (R - incumbent). Jill Cohenour (D - challenger). Terry is a likeable enough fellow. In fact, back in the 1970s, he served in the Senate as a D. While a bit of a maverick at times, his voting record is mainstream R. On paper, this race is close. If Jill can break her well-honed habit of starting slow and never picking up the pace, she could pick up the most vulnerable R seat. Toss up.
Race #2: Senate District 25. Billings. Roy Brown (R - incumbent). Kendall Van Dyk (D - challenger). This race will be in the spotlight for the next seven plus months. OK. Roy was shellacked by Schweitzer in 2008, but he will be very difficult to unseat. Kendall has the ambition and pluck to pull if off. A clash of the titans who represent very different philosophies. Likely to become the most expensive legislative race in Montana history. Will be decided by fewer than four percentage votes either way. Advantage at outset: Brown.
Race #3: Senate District 29. Laurel. Dan McGee (R) seat. Penny Morgan (R). Frederick Schweitzer (D). Representative Penny wants to move over to the upper chamber. Frederick, yes, he is Brian's nephew, wants to make his political mark. Penny has represented half of this district for eight years in the House, winning by wide margins each time. Close on paper, but there may not be enough D votes in the other half of the district. Advantage at the outset: Morgan.
Race #4: Senate District 13. Great Falls. Joe Tropila (D) seat. Ed Buttrey (R). Kathleen Galvin-Halcro (D). Remember Buttrey Food Stores? Same family. Kathleen served four terms in the House before term limits sidelined her. Perhaps a vulnerable seat; maybe not. Depends on the quality of Galvin-Halcro's campaign. Great Falls has a deep-seated D tradition, but things are changing. Advantage at outset: Galvin-Halcro.
Race #5: Senate District 17. Havre. Ken Hansen (D) seat. Rowlie Hutton (R). Bob Bergren (D). For the D's to have any shot at controlling the Senate, Bergren, the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, must hold this seat. Hutton is the pastor of one of those large Sunday warehouse churches. If Bergren commits himself to the task at hand, this seat should stay blue. Advantage at outset: Slightly Bergren.
Projection: After the hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent and the voters badgered for months on end, when the votes are counted, the R's will still have a majority of at least 27 seats.
But Roy has maintained a moderate tone over the years. This cycle, though, he's apparently spooked, because he is falling all over himself to appeal to the most reactionary elements of the Republican Party. Roy Brown actually returned the Koopman Konservative Kwestionnaire (too far?) and earned a score of 82 -- pretty much off the charts.
Let's be clear, Koopman isn't just a conservative. He's a nutjob that conservatives make pains to distance themselves from. I just heard from a friend that she saw Scott Mendenhall, no liberal himself, and two other GOPers in a Helena coffeeshop loudly mocking Roger Koopman.
Roy Brown, though? He's responding to questionnaires and bending over backwards to get a good score from Koopdog.
Brown's district is, was, and will be a lean Democratic seat. It may be the most Democratic seat currently held by a Republican in Montana. Catering to the far right isn't just bad policy here, it is terrible politics.
Roy Brown should probably not be calling Kendall Van Dyk silly nicknames, given his vulnerability on a certain embarrassing issue that arose in his 2008 run against Schweitzer that could lead to a few nicknames of his own, such as Olive Oil Roy or Broccoli Brown.
When we talk about "Red Meat" in politics, the expression refers to a politician's support for an issue that his ravenous partisan voters crave: "red meat for the base" is an expression you might hear used to describe Denny Rehberg making a pro-Pharma vote, or Schweitzer supporting universal healthcare.
But in Roy Brown's case, the red meat is anything but red meat. It's tempting to dismiss the "Brown is a Vegetarian" press from 2008 as a bunch of silliness, but behind the silliness there is an interesting political question as to whether ranchers, and those who make money in the ranching economy, would base their votes on whether a candidate eats meat or not. Roy got less than a third of the vote against Schweitzer. Did the story about him being a vegetarian (or is he vegan?) have any effect on the outcome of the race, because it hindered his ability to shore up his base vote. The GOP base is a meat-eating lot, and one of the stereotypes Republicans love to play up is the image of Democrats as hippy, vegan, fruit-and-nut-eating liberal voters from Missoula. So when a conservative standard-bearer has to fight to clear his name of the outrageous, unthinkable assertion that he is a vegetarian, it's likely that you haven't heard the end of it.
To recap what happened, Montanans awoke in the fall of 2008 to one of the most amusing declarations in Montana political history: Brown: "I am not, nor have I ever been, a vegetarian", Brown in a Billings Gazette article said it was an outrageous lie.
A neighbor of the Browns said she was invited to their house for dinner and was informed that Brown and his wife were vegetarians. She wrote an email to a few ranchers asking if they would oppose a candidate on such grounds, the email got around, and Brown sent out a press release strenuously denying the outrageous rumor.
Or sort of.
He said he "was not, nor had he ever been" a vegetarian. But then he said that he had been a vegetarian, but only for a year and as a show of support for an ill family member who couldn't eat meat. Then, in a little-noticed paragraph of a profile-piece on Brown a few weeks after that, a family member was quoted as saying that he is practically "a vegetarian." The link has expired but I've posted the story in the comments so you can see the source. And then there was the pathetic photo Roy posted of himself, on his campaign website, sitting in front of a big plate of steak. Publicitiy stunts are certainly not Roy's thing.
Stay tuned to the Billings senate race, to see if beef is what's for dinner in the Van Dyk/Brown face-off.
Like in Montana, the Nevada ballot initiative petition does not specifically mention abortion, but is a back door attempt to totally ban abortion in the state.
Carson City District Court Judge James Russell said the measure was too broad and general in nature to be put before voters in November.
"The issue to me is, are we adequately informing voters on what they're voting on," Russell said in a ruling from the bench after listening to about two hours of arguments.
Besides being vague, Russell said, the initiative violates a law limiting referendum questions to a single subject.
"There's no way for the voter to understand the effects of the initiative," he said.
The case came to court after a Nevada woman, a pharmacist and an OB-GYN together filed a legal challenge against the petition, arguing that the initiative proposes far reaching changes to the Nevada Constitution and laws, is misleading and fails to give voters a clear understanding of the changes it proposes and its purpose and effect.
Imagine this - you're been an elected politician for over a decade. You get a call from a reporter who is writing his first story about your current campaign. Do you, (a.) talk a little bit about what you've done for the folks you represent; or (b.) do you revert back to negative tactics you've used in your most recent campaign (a campaign that set records for ineptitude and failure)?
If your answer is (b.), don't be surprised if voters start asking, "What the heck has that guy been doing?" And saying, "Maybe it's time for him to get out of the way."
The Gazette's Tom Lutey has some early coverage of what is shaping up to be the premier legislative race this election cycle - the battle between Kendall Van Dyk and Roy Brown in Billings' State Senate District 25.
While Van Dyk talks about his accomplishments in three short years...
Van Dyk likes his chances of appealing to moderates. In his last legislative session, he crafted a bipartisan bill to settle the disputes over stream access between property owners and river users. It was the first stream access bill to pass through the Legislature in 25 years. He also won bipartisan support for a bill to grant certain therapies for autistic children.
Roy Brown jumps to the low road (and doesn't mention one, single thing that he's done)...
Brown is getting the jump on nicknames.
"I'm not afraid of Tax Hike Van Dyk," he said.
Many Republicans I know (the smart class that have run and won statewide elections) were embarrassed by the campaign that Roy ran last year for Governor (and not just because he lost 50+ counties and ran even with Bob Kelleher.) They're embarrassed because his campaign lacked any substance, blamed everyone else but himself for his problems and went on silly attack threads that showed him to be weak.
National activists are again trying to use Montana as electoral proving grounds to challenge Roe v Wade since federal legislative efforts have been fruitless.
But after a whistle-stop tour from out-of-state activists failed to bring out local support, Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, and the rag-tag group of misfits who refuse to see the writing on the wall are also having trouble putting on a happy face today.
"They have a lot more money than we do," she said of local Montana-based organizations who oppose the constitutional amendment.
The amendment also failed to qualify for the ballot last election cycle.
Local Montana groups don't seem surprised at the lack of support the initiative idea is getting.
"We raise all of our money from the grassroots in Montana," [Allyson Hagen, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana] said, "If we have more money, it's because we have more support."
Even those who Warburton thought would be on her side aren't supporting the amendment:
"the Montana Catholic Conference, a mainstay in the pro-life movement, is not supporting the proposal. It questions the strategy of an all-out challenge to Roe v. Wade at this time."
This weekend, one of the nations most infamous opponents of birth control will travel to Montana to pitch the so-called "personhood" amendment. The amendment is a total ban on abortion with no exceptions that is written in such a way that it could also ban many forms of birth control, some fertility treatments, and cause a host of legal and budgetary problems.
The Pill Kills project is among the more extreme and dangerous of the American Life League's activities. The campaign spreads lies such as telling women that birth inherently dangerous and may lead to "shrinking of the womb" and even death.
These "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy" signs, first seen at the 9/12 march in Washington DC, were the brainchild of Judie Brown, director of the American Life League and denounced by the Catholics she claimed to work to support as
"an outrage and an embarrassment to the Catholic community [that] scor[es] cheap political points at the expense of common good solutions to the current crisis in the health care system."
This campaign marks the fourth attempt in two years (two initiatives, two legislative referenda) in Montana to redefine personhood and interfere in Montana's constitutionally protected right to privacy. Anti-choice groups fell nearly 20,000 signatures short of qualifying for the 2008 ballot. In order to qualify for the 2010 ballot, proponents will have to collect 48,674 signatures, including 10 percent of the voters in each of 40 legislative house districts.
(And these stats should remind folks that Brown won just a handful more votes than Kelleher and Driscoll, too... - promoted by Jay Stevens)
This past week the (outgoing) Secretary of State and the Canvass Board released the official tally for the elections earlier this month. I've just started to go through them, but one thing has really stood out.
So, to put it simply: Roy Brown's vote total was closer to Stan Jones than it was to the Good Guv.
Right after the election, Roy Brown blamed the media(specifically the Associated Press) for his loss. This makes me wonder, doesn't this give Stan Jones just as good of an opportunity to blame the press for him not placing second?
At this point with Schweitzer's lead in the gubernatorial race, it's almost a crime to waste posting space on Roy Brown. But, still, low-hanging fruit and all that.
With a week to go and down in the poll by...20?...points, Brown is making his last pitch. Today, it's a 50 million tax cut.
We've been over this before. Because it's across the board, that means most Montanans will see about $150 in property tax savings a year, or about $10.30 a month.
Well, that's a little better than last time he spun the numbers, but I'm not sure why folks want to get behind massive tax cuts for big corporations to get their ten-and-change a month, while watching state money for essential infrastructure -- like schools -- dry up.
Ho hum? Yup, ho hum, what with the MSU-B poll showing Schweitzer with a 33-point lead and less than two weeks before the election.
All right, you know the drill, let's crunch those numbers! First, the trends among the latest polls:
10/24 - MSU-B: Schweitzer 60, Brown 27
10/19 - Research 2000: Schweitzer 57 (62/33), Brown 40 (41/51)
10/2 - Rasmussen: Schweitzer 56 (65/35), Brown 41 (45/48)
9/22 - Mellman Group: Schweitzer 63, Brown 24
7/31 - Rassmussen: Schweitzer 56 (64/27), Brown 32 (37/41)
Sadly, the MSU-B poll doesn't record favoribility ratings, but those polled did say Brown ran the "most negative" campaign, 30.1% to 12.8%.
And, really, there's not much to say about this poll, other than it feels like an outlier, especially when measuring Roy Brown's base of support. Still, it makes that Mellman report look a little better, doesn't it?
One note, the other day when I scrutinized the MSU-B poll for the presidential election, I wondered if they got the youth vote right, and that explained the positive results for Obama. Well, today I noticed this little line under "Statistically Significant Relationships":
Age was not related to vote intention.
Not sure what to make of that. Did the MSU-B poll get the youth vote wrong? Or are there too many polls showing the presidential candidates are in a dead heat among the young here in Montana? I'm betting the former, that polling in Montana has too stringent requirements for accurately counting young voters in the results.
Anyhow, outlier or not, it's apparent Schweitzer looks like a safe bet to win re-election, despite the best efforts of the GOP to manufacture controversey. In fact, so much so that Dan Testa is already speculating about how the current state budget surplus plays out politically in the next state legislature, a sort of tacit admittance that this election is over, and that the composition of the legislature is what we should be focusing on.
Which reminds me. I wrote up a "state of the elections" piece for the front page of the Daily Kos on Friday as part of a series called, "Listening Locally," in which state bloggers report on the important down-ballot doings in their respective states. Nothing new there, just an appeal to Kossaks to look over some of our local races.
With the election approaching, fast, it's time to remember what's at stake for the state in these legislative battles. The Capitol Blogger wrote up a couple of posts, one comparing the likely leadership teams of the two parties -- and if you love having middle-aged white guys calling all the shots, you'll love a Republican legislature -- and a peek into the Republican energy "policy."
Ugh. Double ugh.
So, are you ready for one last week of donating to candidates?