City council elections: a referendum on Obama

by Pete Talbot

Congratulations to Roy Houseman, who defeated incumbent John Hendrickson by 162 votes in the Ward 2 race. Condolences to Mike O’Herron, who almost took out incumbent Dick Haines in Ward 5: 1,398 – 1,328.

And with all the other Missoula Democratic Party-endorsed incumbents winning their seats, it looks like President Barack Obama has the support of all America — at least if you follow the thinking of the mainstream media.

You see, this off-year election was supposed to be an indicator of support for Obama, the Democrats, and their policies.

According to the AP, two GOP gubernatorial victories (New Jersey and Virginia) are “a troubling sign for the president and his party heading into an important midterm election year.”

Bull-ony.

Apply this reasoning to our city council races and the country overwhelming supports Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. It’s a litmus test confirming the national mood: a referendum on health care legislation, and the handling of the economy and the war in Afghanistan, and is a precursor to the 2010 elections … yeah, right.

First, the fact that a Democrat took the vacant GOP seat in New York’s 23rd Congressional District and a Democrat won a special election for a congressional seat in California are strong indicators that Democrats are holding their own — certainly as strong as looking at any gubernatorial races. People don’t vote for governors the same way they vote for U.S. Senators and Representatives.

Second, on the governor races, New Jersey is awash with corruption scandals (Really? New Jersey you say? What a surprise!). So, the voters are going to throw the bums out, doesn’t matter what party is at the helm. And Virginia has always been a conservative, southern state. I was surprised it had a Democrat as the incumbent. No big shocker there.

Seems that the mainstream media and the political pundits are reaching a bit so they can make interesting banter and exciting headlines.


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  1. Ed

    All I know is I would have had to plug my nose to vote for Mr. Goldman Sachs himself over there in New Jersey. This doesn’t have to do with Obama. It has to do with the Democrats running douches.

  2. Pogo Possum

    At least last night’s City Council Election resolved the accuracy of the declaration Charlie Brown tossed out to Goof last week:

    “So Mr. Guiless Sophomoric watch what an endorsement from Barbara Evans means next week.” Charlie B.

    Apparently. . . . . .not that much.

    In fact, Barbara’s endorsement appears to have had about as much impact as Obama’s endorsement of a string of Democratic candidates.

    • goof houlihan

      Thanks, pogo possum. I appreciate the reality check and I am still happy to be without guile (a duplicitous, deceitful cunning). I read Dick’s story in the Missoulian, and thoroughly enjoyed what he had to say. He is truly “Fighting the long defeat”.

      Also, my wife met him at work a few weeks ago and said he was a super gentleman.

      Got no beef with Charlie and I’m still puzzled by the whole episode. My comment was to jh who had criticized Barbara and was now using her endorsement as a reason to vote against Haines.

      But I can’t say I mind his getting called out on the result.

  3. petetalbot

    The fact that a conservative incumbent in the most conservative ward in the city barely eked out a win is nothing to crow about, Mr. Possum.

    I don’t know if Barbara Evans had that much to do with the margin but Haines is treading on thin ice, obviously.

  4. Pogo Possum

    “in the most conservative ward . . . ”

    Pete, if you are implying that Ward 5 is some Bitterrooot Valley like bastion of ultra concervative right wing wingnuts then you must have stayed up too late last night celebrating. That is like referring to the most conservative ward in San Francisco and suggesting “conservatives” live there.

    Haine’s narrow margin of victory was not due to dissatisfaction by his base. Instead it had more to do with a low voter turnout, little on the ballot to bring out moderates and conservative voters, a well organized Democratic campaign (thank Charlie for helping out) and (most importantly) Dick Haine’s usual almost suidical reluctance to mount any type of an effective political campaign or allow others to help. All things considered, the fact that he won period shows that he is well respected and has support in his Ward.

    I am a little surprised at Charlie’s braggadocia in this blog when he went after Goof. He rarely injects himself into a race like that and normally plays the gentleman that I know him to be. Barbara’s endorsement had little if any influence in the final numbers on this race. In fact, the very few endorsements she has made in the past have had little influence.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I like and respect both Charlie and Barbara. Barbara did a good job as Commissioner and deserves all the praise and respect possible. Missoula is a better place because of her years of dedicated hard work. I was sad to see her retire, especially after seeing who replaced her. Charlie does an effective job as a campaign manager. I just strongly disagree with his assessment of Barbara’s influence on political races in Missoula.
    While Barbara still has political influence in this community on key issues, influencing elections through her endorsement of candidates is not one of her strengths.

  5. Pogo Possum

    One more thing Pete……..”Mr. Possum”? Why the formality? I hope this doesn’t mean you have taken me off your Christmas mailing list.

  6. JC

    “it had more to do with a low voter turnout, little on the ballot to bring out moderates and conservative voters”

    Um… how do you “turn out” voters for a mail in ballot? It’s not like you have to get in the car and go anywhere. Just lick a stamp and stick it back in the mailbox.

    I guess they do it differently on the other side of the hill…

    • Pogo Possum

      Don’t play dumb, J.C. You are just playing with symantics.

      Here is the quote from the Missoulian today:

      “. . . . In the 2007 city elections, the Elections Office mailed out 51,388 ballots and got back 23,660, for a turnout of 46.04 percent. That year had a Missoula County Public Schools bond levy and an Iraq war referendum on the ballot. More than 4,000 mail ballots arrived on Election Day that year.

      In 2005, the last year Missoulians elected their city leaders by traditional ballots, turnout was 33 percent – with 12,875 of the city’s 39,051 registered voters participating.

      This time around, 14,037 ballots were marked for a turnout of just under 33 percent.”

      Write a letter to the Editor if you don’t like the term.

  7. Pogo Possum

    Now let me repeat an earlier statement:

    ” Barbara’s endorsement appears to have had about as much impact as Obama’s endorsement of a string of Democratic candidates.”

    After all the campaigning Obama did for some of the losing Dem candidates, it appears that it just might be Obama and the Dems up for re-election in 2010 who are treading on thin ice, Pete.




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