Archive for June 6th, 2006


Home now. Had some time alone on the porch swing, looked at the stars, felt the air on my skin. Quiet.

Some thoughts.

First the bad news. Conrad Burns looks like he’s won 70% of the primary vote. That’s a ringing endorsement from his base. It also looks like he’s going to receive more total votes than Tester did. On the other hand, if you add up the Tester and Morrison totals…

Still, I’m appalled at how many people cast a vote for Conrad Burns. There’s a lot of work to do.

The good news.

You feel that little spark of hope? You know the one, the little faint glimmer that’s been lying dormant all these years during the Bush administration. When all the sh*t hit the fan: the theft of the 2000 election, the pre-emptive strike against Iraq, torture, suspension of habeus corpus, domestic spying, the fixed 2004 election, and every time that little spark made you think, well, maybe this time…only the GOP toes the line (and to h*ll with the country!), and the Democrats roll over…

You feel that spark of hope that has been doused by timid and corrupt lawmakers?

You feel it?

Let it wash over you.

Embrace it. I dare you.



The California numbers.

The special election for HD 5 between Brian Bilbray and Francine Busby, with 11% of precincts reporting: Billbray at 50.63%, Busby 42.93%. It's still early, but that's a substantial gap. Pundits have tagged this race as a litmus test for the state of the Republican party this summer, except that Busby didn't run a great campaign, let loose a slip at the eleventh hour about immigrants that didn't go over well in this very conservative of House districts.

As for the gubernatorial primary, Phil Angelides has 46.91% to Steve Westley's 43.73% with only 19% of precincts reporting. It was an ugly, ugly campaign where two candidates with identical platforms sniped at each other's ugly ties to lobbyists and big money, which only convinced everyone that both candidates are involved with lobbyists and big money.

Still, whoever wins has the summer to repair their image before facing Ahnuld.


Jon just gave his victory speech, and the atmosphere was electric. Tester supporters were jammed shoulder-to-shoulder, screaming, yelling, high-fiving, flashing the victory signs.

I'm not going to bother trying to repeat what he said, I'm only going to emphasize what I thought was important. First, he noted that he won the race even though he was outpent. (Raucous cheering.) This was a grassroots campaign. Tester represents the working- and middle-class families and small businesses, and he says his campaign represents regular Montanans.

The campaign slogan: "We'll make Washington DC look a lot like Montana."


The numbers. With 57.67% of precincts reporting, Tester's at 60.62%, Morrison 36.00%.

I'm stunned. I thought it would be close. This thing is not close. I'm sure in the coming days and weeks as the summer campaign winds down, pundits and experts and media people are going to analyze this race to death. The fact is, is that Tester's honest and competent. He's a farmer, not a lawyer or millionaire. People like him and trust him. And they should.

Montana gave the country Mike Mansfield, who set the standard for the quality of statesmen that Montana can produce. Now there's Jon Tester.

Conrad Burns is no Mike Mansfield. He's disgraced Montana and the reputation of its Senate seat.

Conrad Burns, meet your 2006 opponent.


Morrison is giving his concession speech.

It's over.

With nearly 47% of precincts reporting, Tester is up 61.74% to 35.38%.

This thing is a rout, folks. All the poll numbers were way off. This is ridiculous. 


Let's talk about Yellowstone county for a moment. Yesterday (or was it today? I'm not linking, LitW is bogged down, folks) Matt said it was Morrison territory. So Morrison should win it, right?

The numbers?

With 56 of 69 precincts reporting, Morrison won 5,330 votes to Tester's 6,150.

No wonder Morrison's not showing up at campaign HQ.


Thirty-nine percent of precincts reporting, here are the overall numbers:

Tester – 31,805 61.87%

Morrison – 18,828 35.58%

Is it too early to be optimistic? 


Hill county: 127 Tester, 22 Morrison.

Gallitn: 352 Tester, 152 Morrison.

Flathead: 1,070 Tester, 964 Morrison.

Cascade: 4,779 Tester, 2,611 Morrison.

Lewis & Clark: 3,846 Tester, 1,209 Morrison.

The news flashes the number. Total votes, Tester up two-to-one. The crowd erupts.

Tester is being interviewed. Optimistic, cheery, positive. Still cautious. Meanwhile Morrison still hasn't showed up at his headquarters. He's bunkering. 


Some more numbers:

Ninety-seven of 100 precincts in Missoula county reporting have Tester up, 11,380 to 3,047.

Deer Lodge absentee ballots has Morrison up, 645 to 422.

Lake country absentee: 329 Tester, 221 Morrison.

Butte-Silverbow: 1,241 Morrison, 809 Tester.

It's packed right now, wall-to-wall people. It's hot. It's stuffy, but not out on the lawn. People are ecstatic, beaming. I'd definitely say the mood is upbeat.

I ran into Alex Taft of the Missoula County Dems. He joked about the “defense of marriage” amendment, saying it's a sure cure for the war in Iraq. We chatted about the race and the possible ramifications for Montana if Tester wins. We both agree: it'll be a madhouse. It'll also be a chance to show the nation how you win a campaign with open, clear stances on issues, like the war.

He brought up Schweitzer, admiring his recent candor about the war being about oil, and that we should be up front about it. If people don't like fighting for oil, they can use less.


Some early returns for absentee votes (hold on to your hats, folks):

Missoula country: 73.5% for Tester.

Ravalli county: 67.8% for Tester.

Breaking news! Sixteen of 69 precincts reporting for Yellowstone County shows that Tester has pulled slightly ahead by a dozen votes!


Ran into Paul Richards and had a nice chat. He looks great, slightly tanned and a little tired. He leans in close when you talk, great smile.

I told Richards I had urged him to drop out – he thought that was hilarious. Funny stuff. He was surprised at the quick reaction to his news, he had hoped on milking the news for a couple of days. Of course, the blog was chatting about the announcement before it ever happened, maybe hurried things a bit, got all the news sources ready to drop everything and spread the news.

Apparently it's been a rough financial stretch for Richards; he dropped work to campaign for the Senate seat and get his message out. It's back to work for the erstwhile candidate. In any case, he's excited and fully supporting the Big Sandy farmer.

Thanks for running, Paul.


Live blogging from Tester HQ in Missoula!

I'm sitting here with Left in the West's V, taking in the atmosphere. It's a sunny, pleasant evening and the crowd is already spilling out of the room here at the Holliday Inn – Parkside. The mood is upbeat, Jon's in fine form, working the crowd.

Some early returns: According to V, Yellowstone County is falling to Morrison, 52-44. Actually, that's not a bad return for Tester, considering it's supposed to be a Morrison county.

Three-to-one in Lewis and Clark County on absentee votes, is buzz on the floor! Great news! I was actually a little worried that the state's easy absentee voting would favor Morrison in this race, because Tester's momentum really only got going the past couple of weeks…

I'll keep you posted…

John Rodwick of Kalispell blogs his personal impressions of Jon Tester – and comes away pleased.

I went to meet Jon Tester last night and found him to be an intelligent, straight shooting guy. He made great eye contact when I was speaking with him individually. When I asked him pointed questions about the war, economy, privacy issues and social programs, he didn't hesitate, flinch or have to think about how he felt.

That’s great and all…but why is this testimonial important?

Hell, it's been 30 some years since I attended anything political…

This is what terrifies Burns about facing Tester in the general. Tester invigorates the electorate. He’s an honest politician who speaks his views plainly in an era of corruption and deceit. He will draw people to the polls who don’t usually vote.

In other news, Montana’s CBS affiliate, KXLF, actually did a decent story on the race. They sent a reporter to DC to interview DNC chair Howard Dean and a GOP spokesman (gee, why not the RNC chair?).

Dean: "Brian Schweitzer is a pretty heavy hitter on his own. He's become a national figure. There'll be some national figures coming out, but since you've got one right there in Montana, my guess is that Governor Schweitzer will be a big help to those candidates."

Dean himself will visit Montana in late summer.

Sweet! I’d love to meet Howard Dean!

This only confirms what we knew all along: Montana is going to be under the spotlight this summer. Not just for the Senate race, but also as a display of “New West” Democrat power and Brian Schweitzer.

How about those Republicans? Who’s going to stump for Boss Hogg?

Republicans say Burns doesn't need celebrity support.

[GOP spokesman Tucker] Bounds: "This race for Conrad Burns is going to be less about who's going to come in and campaign for him from other parts of the country as much as it is how well he connects with voters in Montana. He's a Montana guy."

Ha ha ha!

These guys slay me! (Or so Budge wishes.)

I’ve posted about this before, but it’s not that Burns doesn’t “need” celebrity support – he desperately needs it! It’s that no one wants to be associated with him!

Honestly, if this were John McCain running, don’t you think GOP celebrities would be lining up to have their photos taken with the candidate? H*ll, yeah! Me:

…with a valuable Senate seat on the line, it seems foolish that a high-profile and popular Republican would ignore the Montana race. H*ll, the president recently stumped for Burns…

If Tester wins the primary today, I guarantee you’ll see a celebrity circus in Montana this summer riding on the populist coat-tails of the good farmer.

(Does anybody have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal? There’s an editorial up that mentions the Montana primary…I’d love to read the whole thing…)

Hotline’s Montana preview of today’s election is interesting on a couple of notes.

First, on negativity:

What makes the closeness of this primary so striking is the lack of negativity we’ve seen in the paid media from both Dem campaigns. Sure, there are subtle jabs each is taking at the other’s expense, but it’s no where near as nasty as, say, the IA GOV Dem primary or the Dem contest in CA GOV. The negativity has been aimed solely at GOP incumbent Conrad Burns and it appears both Dem campaigns decided not to dilute that message. That has to make the folks at the DSCC smile because they want this campaign to be all about Burns.

It’s true that Morrison and Tester weren’t overtly hostile to one another. However, let the blogosphere show that there heated passions – mainly levied against Morrison.

Another “observation”:

What makes the closeness of this primary so striking is the lack of negativity we’ve seen in the paid media from both Dem campaigns. Sure, there are subtle jabs each is taking at the other’s expense, but it’s no where near as nasty as, say, the IA GOV Dem primary or the Dem contest in CA GOV. The negativity has been aimed solely at GOP incumbent Conrad Burns and it appears both Dem campaigns decided not to dilute that message. That has to make the folks at the DSCC smile because they want this campaign to be all about Burns.

It’s like the Morrison scandal didn’t even happen. What is obvious is that the author, Chuck Todd, does not really have his ear tuned to state politics, where rumors abound. Let us just say that it seems the Tacke affair isn’t the only reason trial lawyers and auditor staffers are flocking to Tester.

Now for some questions:

Does a Tester victory mark the first true netroots-created win? We know there are other races where the Democratic netroots played a major factor, but a Tester victory would give even more legitimacy to the lefty blogosphere’s political power.

Let’s save this one for tomorrow, after the results are in.


How much control will Washington try and exert over Tester if he’s the nominee? The DSCC is probably a bit more satisfied with the team around Morrison, then again the roll-out (or whatever one wants to call it) of Morrison’s personal issues (namely the admitted affair) wasn’t smooth. But are things like that ever rolled out smoothly? What will Schweitzer’s role in this race be? He doesn’t let too many nat’l reporters leave the state without offering up something on-the-record.

“Control”? “Exert”? “Over Tester”? Makes you glad to support Tester, doesn’t it? Basically this guy is saying Morrison is a tool. I’m not a big fan of my legislative representatives being under the control of DC insiders. Another reason to vote for Tester.

Again, Todd’s comments on Morrison’s affair misses the point entirely: it’s not that the “roll out” was rough, it was that the “roll out” was more like a “cover up.” They pretty much let anyone write these things. Trust me. I know.

And Schweitzer’s role? If Tester wins this race, expect Schweitzer to do some serious stumping. If Morrison wins…well…who knows?

In any case, I’m looking forward to the results of this race. There’ll be lots of speculation, rumor-mongering, and wild plans made for the future. A veritable blogger’s buffet!

Are social conservatives waking up to the fact that the Bush administration is using them? I'm not only talking about the anti-gay legislation that Bush is currently pushing for in a blatant attempt to distract voters about Iraq, the economy, wiretapping, etc & co. It’s the whole slate of conservative social issues.

All paleo-conservatives have to do is ask themselves, "what has the Bush administration done for us?" After all, the Republicans have controlled all three branches of government for the past six years. What have they accomplished?

Let’s see. The administration gutted good, working programs like FEMA, started an unprovoked war that’s settled into a quagmire, slashed taxes for the wealthy, ran up a deficit, spied on Americans, jailed foreign nationals without due process then tortured them. And so on.

Where’s the abortion laws? What happened to “protecting traditional marriage”? Why are clinics still pestering moral citizens with contraceptives? Why is the “morning-after pill” available at all, let alone only as a prescription medication?

The WaPo’s Dionne brought this up in an interesting editorial, “Base Assumptions”:

The people who should be angry this week are not liberals or gays or lesbians, but the president's most loyal supporters. After using the gay-marriage issue shamelessly in the 2004 campaign, Bush and Republican leaders left opponents of gay marriage out in the cold as they concentrated on the party's real priorities: privatizing Social Security and cutting taxes on rich people.

This issue – and flag burning, as Dionne notes – have been kicking around Washington for years:

The constitutional amendment to ban flag burning is also about electoral politics. As a Senate Republican leader said happily, a vote against the amendment "would make a good 30-second spot." An official of the National Republican Congressional Committee said that "if Democrats choose to vote against a Constitutional amendment" banning flag desecration, "I think they'll pay a price."Both quotations appeared in a New York Times story that ran 16 years ago — from Bob Dole, the Republican leader, and Ed Rollins, the GOP official. Does wedge politics have to be so boringly predictable?

At least Scott Reed, Dole's 1996 campaign manager, has a sense of humor about all this. He told Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn last week: "If you're a gay who likes to burn flags, it's going to be a long year.”

Um, ha ha. I'm dying over here.

Apparently leading Republicans knew the proposals were jokes in 1996, and they know so now, too. They know the legislation won’t go through, but they’ll get their fifteen- and thirty-second sound bites about how their opponent voted in favor of burning flags or allowing fags to marry.

I’ve talked with a number of social conservatives – mostly pro-lifers – who are enraged at the Bush administration’s overt support for the nation’s wealthy and corporate interests, but they continue to vote Republican because of their one issue. Abortion. Don’t you think the Republican leadership knows they have a bloc of passionate voters in the pro-life movement with money to burn in their pockets?

Of course if they manage to outlaw abortion – like, say, by appointing SCOTUS justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade – they’d lose pro-life support. After all, their reprehensible anti-government, anti-services fiscal practices are decidedly un-Christian. So it’s in the best interests of the GOP to keep abortion legal.

Don’t get me wrong – I am dead-set against most conservative social movements. But in the meantime, while the Republican party strings these single-issue voters along, they run amok. We’re facing the biggest federal deficit in history. We’re entering a gasoline crisis. Economic indicators hint we’re heading into a period of high inflation. We’re in the middle of a ill-conceived, poorly executed war that’s stirring up anti-American sentiment. The executive branch is seizing authoritarian powers.

Social conservatives should realize that the Republican party is using them. Democrats should work on striking up innovative compromises that bridge previously unassailable gulfs – the Clinton-Reid plan on abortion, for example, or guaranteeing civil unions for gays instead of marriage.

Most activists won’t be happy with these compromises. But maybe, just for awhile, we can fudge a little on our beliefs in order to win back the government for the people.


Matt Singer called around…and is dizzy with excitement: seems like Tester’s kicking *ss. (Must…not…jinx…) He writes that a “week ago,” Tester-Morrison support was 1:1. We all know what happened to change things, don’t we? My vow was exactly one week ago! Voters across the state must have realized what a sacrifice I was willing to make and must have looked deep into their hearts…

Meanwhile, you can check out Left in the West’s pundit poll. See how the Internet savvy rate the races.

New West covered yesterday’s Tester Missoula rally.

Idaho’s Senator Mike Crapo gets a telephone call “feeling out” how far his support for “traditional” marriage goes.

Sara finds an *ahem* excellent post on American Prospect about ID 1 and has a nice response.

Ben Stein doesn’t think the Iraq War was the country’s biggest foreign policy mistake, but WWII! That’s right, FDR really screwed up by letting us get surprise attacked by Japan!

The AP pats itself on its back for the story about Harry Reid taking ringside seats from a Nevada agency. Why? Because it was accurate and fair? No – Reid didn’t do anything illegal, and still voted against the agency’s interests. Because it was good reporting? No, it was a biased piece that looked to undermine the traction that the Abramoff scandal had. No, because it got a lot of attention. Um, maybe the next story should be about the Martian invasion. That’d get a lot of buzz…

Digby on the estate tax.

Ann Coulter blasts 9/11 widows on the Today show. That’s shocking!!! Coulter on the Today show??? You can let this primitive hate-monger into the mainstream!

Michael Bérubé on Glenn Greenwald’s “How Would a Patriot Act?” and how the Bush administration has “radicalized” a “disinterested proceduralist.”

Thongs…for phones! (Very safe for work.)

Finally! Wulfgar! returns from his summer vacation.

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