“Dennis McDonald is Not Electable”

by jhwygirl

That, from Democratic primary candidate Melinda Gopher:

There is one intractable fact and I will hammer this home: Dennis McDonald is not electable. I am hearing it from Democrat, Republican and undecided voters alike. His advancement in the June primary will most assuredly guarantee another Rehberg win in the fall. A.J. Otjen is not convincing as a credible Republican challenger, she has not put the effort into it. Mark French is on the extreme right fringe. At the same time, long time Republican party veterans already concede this seat will fall in the Democratic aisle.

Melinda Gopher has some guts. She titled her post “Melinda Gets Tough with Montana,” and truly, she is saying what plenty of people have been pondering…but none have put in print.

(I don’t know that I’d write off A.J. Otjen as unconvincing or not credible, but I believe Gopher is being kind describing Mark French as being “on the extreme right fringe”)

Her most recent blog post, published yesterday morning, takes Dennis McDonald (and others) to task for a number of things…but mainly she “gets tough” with McDonald on a number of issues, including his AFL-CIO endorsements, his associations with mobster “Jimmy the Weasel”, and his handling of the 2008 congressional race (as head of the Montana Democratic Party).

While she somewhat unfairly blames the lack of support for Jim Hunt on McDonald’s leadership (Hunt lost the Democratic congressional primary in 2008, and the state party wouldn’t help a candidate until after they win the primary), she does allude to him having made decisions in the past that brought him to an advantage in this year’s race:

“I have another question,” she asks. “Did Mr. McDonald manipulate the state party strategy in 2008 to position himself for this race? I would have to say, based on his statements on the campaign trail; yes he did. As he likes to say; “this office is the only statewide race we (Democrats) did not win, so I wanted to come back and finish the job myself.””

Gopher doesn’t stop there – she then goes on to highlight Montana’s hugest disappointment – Representative Dennis Rehberg, Montana’s 10-year congressional do-nothing:

We cannot deny history, this is a pivotal race on the national stage. This race is where the tire meets the road for the Democratic electoral strategy in 2012. It is where–for too long; the person occupying the seat of this nation’s largest geographic district has been literally “drunk at the helm.” This is why Montana is at the bottom in disposable income, we cannot afford to educate our children, we cannot retain those fortunate to receive an education. We have a disjointed leadership in D.C., while passing three bills in his entire nine years–as Tyler Gernant points out—all to name federal buildings: Rehberg is the 12th wealthiest member of the U.S. House. His response to largely his own failure to lead, disguised as faux right wing earmark rage, just stated this past week: we are all on the Titanic.

Her piece is lengthy, so really – go read it. Melinda is a pretty straightforward speaker who I’ve yet to see mince words. Clearly, she does the same with her writing.


  1. Melinda…Melinda….Melinda…in 2010.
    Make Montana proud again….with Melinda.

    There’s a wildlife sanctuary up the bitteroot that honors metcalf. Another montana born not afraid to speak his mind. Melinda will look Rehberg in those flinchy lying eyes of his and tell the truth again.

  2. Pogo Possum

    Melinda has it three quarters correct. McDonald is not electable in Montana. He can spin it any way he wants but the Jimmy The Weasel /Mob Boss label has already stuck. The rumors (confirmed by Melinda) of in-house animosity toward McDonald within the Democratic Party for throwing other Ds under the bus to promote his own agenda won’t help him either.

    Her analysis of Otjen and French is spot on but she pulled the “Republican party veterans” conceding Rehberg’s seat out of thin air to rally the troops.

    I know the vast majority of the “long time party veterans” and they are solidly behind Denny. They expect Denny to have another strong showing in the General Election. The only “long time party veterans” I have heard conceding their own candidate’s seat in this race are Democrats.

    I like Melinda’s spirit and tenacity. She is a scrapper and it will be fun to watch her driving political stakes through McDonald’s heart in each primary debate. While I like both Melinda and Tyler, they both have less of a chance than McDonald.

    • Don’t dismiss Gernant, Pogo. When I parse the money numbers, and take into consideration McDonald’s “in kind” donations that came from his very own staff – and other things like number of donors and self-funding, Gernant is doing far better.

      And fine by me if the “long time party veterans” think that Dennis is going to skate into re-election. French and Otjen are probably loving hearing that, too.

      Who doesn’t like to see their opponents sitting home on the porch?

  3. Big Swede

    I was thinking about some Melinda bumper stickers.

    You’ll Love Reservation Living.

    • petetalbot


      I have only blocked one comment in my lengthly career at 4&20, and that was a personal attack that mentioned my wife. And this is jhwygirl’s post and not mine, so I don’t feel I have the right. We’ll see if she puts up with this racist crap.

      You’ve really gone downhill, buddy. You used to occasionally offer an insight, even a witty rejoinder, but lately your mean-spirited, far-right roots of discrimination and bigotry are showing. As I tell my grandkids when they misbehave: “you need a time out.”

      • Big Swede

        Spare me please.

        The “reservation” comment was a prediction of what was to come of us if every one of your liberal wet dreams came true.

        Tell me please, what has Melinda done to enhance the plight of her people? Increased employment perhaps? Is this what we need now, some one ignoring unemployement?

        Would Melinda’s most desirable trait be in-acting polices advancing dependence on govt. benevolence?

        And finally Pete. If reservation life and its peoples so scared why aren’t you bringing up your kids/grandkids there?

        • JC

          “The “reservation” comment was a prediction of what was to come of us if every one of your liberal wet dreams came true.”

          You think that liberals’ wet dream is to give America back to those from whom it was stolen?

          Wish that it were true.

          You’re losing your ability to defend your fellow teabaggers on the racism issue here by putting it on blatant display, BS.

          And if you’d go to Melinda’s website, you’d see some answers to the questions you pose to Pete about what she is doing about unemployment.

          And a question: What is your boy Denny doing about the unemployment “plight of [his] people?”

          • Big Swede

            Gee JC, where do I begin?

            First of all where are the highest rates of national unemployment, in Rep Districts or Dems? How ’bout the state, Rep or Dem controlled? The truth is more Dems=fewer jobs.

            Second, my wife ancestor’s homes were stolen by the British and guess what-they got over it. When some one comes to me and says something about drunk Irishmen I usually respond, “Yea, but they make good cops”.

            And Denny, he voted against the stimulus bill and health care, will vote against cap and trade, VAT, and any other job killers.

            Sorry, I can’t say the same for Melinda.

            • petetalbot

              Wrong, wrong and wrong again, Swede. Missoula’s unemployment numbers are way lower than the conservative Flathead’s. Or Helena v. Lincoln County. Even Butte, which has been hammered by the resource industry’s boom-and-bust cycle, is doing better than Republican Ravalli County. And on-and-on.

              I’ll skip the British/Irish analogy but, no, they haven’t gotten over it. Ever hear of the I.R.A.?

              Finally, health care reform, cap-and-trade (if done correctly), and the stimulus package are job killers? I don’t think so. For sure, our country’s unemployment rate would be higher without the stimulus package. Now, I might agree with you on the Wall Street bailouts, and so did Democrat Jon Tester, so you can’t go there. If we had followed Rehberg’s cure for the recession, which was to do nothing, we’d be in even deeper doo-doo. But if you’re a millionaire like Denny, that’s probably not a concern.

              • Big Swede

                Reservations numbers prove you wrong. 2/3rds+ unemployment, 2/3rds+ voting Dem.

                Show me some one who could turn those jobless numbers around, let’s say cut them in half, and they’ll get my vote.

                Black, brown, red or yellow, regardless of party affiliation.

              • petetalbot

                The reservation numbers don’t count, Swede. I’m looking at the rest of the state. Reservation unemployment has always been high, just like any other overlooked, underserved, disenfranchised population.

                But again, we agree on one thing: “Show me someone who could turn those jobless numbers around, let’s say cut them in half, and they’ll get my vote.”

                Denny Rehberg is not the one who would do this.

              • Big Swede

                You need to ask the good Gov. Brian wether or not reservations count.

        • petetalbot

          I’m guessing you meant sacred, not scared, BS. I want the best for my kids/grandkids. So does Melinda, which is one of the reasons she’s running for office, I imagine — to improve life on the reservation.

          And isn’t running for office “enhanc(ing) the plight of her people?” Can you tell me anything that Rehberg has done for “her people?”

        • Bs- when I call you out on your racist statement you prevaricate, obfuscate and back pedal just like the lowdown craven shadow lurker I take you for.

    • problembear

      BS: you, your racist hate group friends and rehberg have every reason to fear facing melinda this coming election.

      also, since you are obviously another one of those coward retired white guys who takes pot shots at minorities and who fears diversity, let me warn you BS. i confront racism with relentless ferocity.

      test me.

      • klemz

        Also hated the comment, but it’s a common enough (private) sentiment in Montana that I think Gopher is probably unelectable, at least in 2010.

        I think Denny runs away with it again, sadly.

    • Like I see them

      Big Swede, I think that is a racist comment you made.

      Knocking Melinda for being an Indian and from the reservation is racist statement.

      I think you’re using the internet to spread a message that it’s OK to make fun of Indians because they live in poverty. You come across as someone who thinks other people’s suffering and lack of opportunity is funny.

  4. Pronghorn

    I know that I won’t vote for McDonald based on his strong ties to the livestock oligarchy on the state and national levels. He is not a Dem I’m comfortable with. In fact, I think of him as a “Dem.”

    Note to Ms. Gopher: Better brush up on semicolon use.

    Note to BS: I’m an Anglo who HAS lived on the rez, and actually, I DID love it. What’s your point?

  5. I think Melinda is super smart. I like her. But just because most of my effort has had to be devoted to my students in the last few weeks should not be misinterpreted. Especially as she has yet to raise enough money to file anything in the FEC filings. Count her out, not me. I’m the only one that can beat Rehberg, as it has to happen in the primary. None of the democrats can beat him in the general.

    We have got to make sure Montanan’s vote the GOP ballot in the primary for many reasons. It is time to take back the Republican party and make it reasonable again. Look at the state legislature ballots, there are distinctive choices. Do the research and set our two parties right again so that we can work together for good government.

    • JC

      Sounds like your strategy is crossover voting to defeat Rehberg.

      It’d be fine with me if some the McDonald supporters crossed over and voted for you, and left the rest of the dems to vote and pick your opponent on the dem ticket (not McDonald).

      Now how interesting of an election would that be? Unlikely scenario, but bring it on!

      Are you willing to take on Rehberg on his character? Go straight for the jugular on his good ole boy drinkin’ and politickin ways? Or are you a softy on those issues?

      • I don’t need to attack anyone’s character. Rehberg’s record of being a part of a failed and fall in line Republican Congress is enough to bring him home. Also, I am putting forth a clear agenda to balance the budget by identifying at least $900 billion in spending cuts, leaving us $600 billion needed in more revenues just this year. I have made it clear we can not cut more taxes. Instead we need to make the biggest earners be big earners by following the rules. And I have put forth a small business tax plan to let them keep retained earnings before calculating profit. That would be liquidity back in the market so that TARP would never have been necessary. That is just the beginning of my agenda. If you campaign with honor and honesty, our ideas should be enough, without attacking character. I think it is the soft thing to go low and use fear to win.

        • JC

          I’m not advocating attacking low and using fear. I just think that a person’s character is a reflection of how well they they can serve their constituents.

          There are those who would raise false issues about character. It is another thing to look at a candidate and ask him what he was thinking when he got into a boat piloted by a drunk, after having some drinks himself, and brought his staff along with him.

          I know this makes some people squeamish, but until Rehberg answers those charges that he abused his authority by conducting his business in a way that threatened the lives of his employees, I don’t think he’s fit for office. Well, he could answer those charges,and I wouldn’t think he was fit, anyways.

          And of course, if Denny thinks your campaign is a threat to his reelection, he won’t have any qualms raising character issues with you, true or false.

          I’m looking for candidates who are willing to call out bulls*it where they see it, and not just recite policies that they think will win a vote. I’ve seen enough of politicians backing away from campaign policy rhetoric to know that it is all poll-driven. Policy is just one facet of being a successful candidate.

          Give me candidates who I can trust, and who I think are good people, and I might consider voting for them. Rehberg fails all of the above.

        • Kevin

          Ms. Otjen, You failed to use the facts about Rehberg to make your case. that’s not “attacking” that’s called the truth. And its why your campaign is, sadly, going no where.

          You had the chance to speak out and you didn’t take it! I can’t imagine why.

  6. Long Time Dem

    Of all the many political attacks, the accusation that your opponent is ‘not electable’ is probably the weakest.

    Clinton Adviser Says Obama Not Electable

    And using a Republican party attack ad as the basis of this charge only makes Gopher look worse…

  7. Erica

    This really shows gross ignorance of Montana politics. How can McDonald have manipulated the race when Driscoll refused any party help! I used to think that maybe this woman should have run for Montana legislature (as should Gernant) but this post shows lack of intelligence and basic common sense on a grand scale.

    • Kevin

      I agree. This post is a joke. It’s clear this individual is trying to help Gernant by smearing McDonald with a post that has no credibility and only makes Ms. Gopher look bad.

    • WTH? You are putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say I agreed with all of what Gopher said – or even most of it. That wasn’t the point – I reported what she said. Gopher is a candidate. That is news.

      I said she has guts – I stand by that. And I said that she said what other’s are saying but have yet to put in print. I stand by that.

      I even corrected and said that it was not the parties role to provide the primary candidates with support.

      What is your problem?

  8. Jim

    You do Ms. Gopher no favors by proliferating information about how naive and uninformed she’s making herself look. You do yourself no favors either in terms of credibility. For shame.

  9. An inside view on the campaign trial, I’ve posted again today…probably looks on the Democratic side, will come down to Gernant and I. Despite the presence of much more campaign cash, hasn’t done much good for McDonald. Montana women are very energized in this election; youth are disengaged and that is troubling. Native American voters are energized as well.

    When I speak of party veterans observing Rehberg’s decline, in what is thought of as a Republican strongholds, not going to say where/who, he is very vulnerable. He is losing his own base. As for Otjen, finally met and spoke with her, she is a great lady. She has a chance now, as she has said–she can now campaign full time as her semester of teaching is over. Republicans do not want to admit it is over for Rehberg. It is. Public perception rules the day.

    • petetalbot

      Melinda has a new post up at her website:


      It’s detailed and thoughtful and worth the read.

      She also takes me to task for “pigeonholing” her campaign. My intention was to raise the possible perceptions out there in voterland as to her electability (as I did with the other primary candidates). It was in no way meant to denigrate Ms. Gopher, whom I admire and wish the best.

  1. 1 Montana’s congressional race heats up « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] has a post up on Melinda Gopher that has generated a plethora of comments — a couple from one of Rehberg’s primary […]

  2. 2 Real Analysis of the Gernant/McDonald Democratic Primary $ « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] let’s do some analysis. Not like I hadn’t looked at the numbers – I made mention of that in a comment to a previous post. So I could of written this post up a week ago, but I didn’t really want to go there. But […]

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