Archive for April 20th, 2010

by Pete Talbot

(Before I get into the meat of this post, I must say this to all Democratic congressional candidates: Spend your campaign dollars in Montana. A quick look at Denny Rehberg’s campaign expenditures shows the majority of his money going to consultants in Virginia and Tennessee, a researcher in Philadelphia, a phone bank in Arizona, direct mail in Utah, etc. Granted, a chunk of Denny’s change goes to Missoula’s own Erik Iverson for political consulting and to Huntley, Montana’s Tyler Matthews, Rehberg’s campaign manager, but the bulk of his money is being spent out-of-state. And I don’t care what party you’re in, few things disappoint me more than Montana campaigns spending their dollars out-of-state when there are businesses right here that can do the same job.)

OK. One would hope that the 2010 race for Montana’s lone congressional seat would remain civil. Fat chance; this is, after all, politics.

I remember a political operative telling me, years ago: “if you’re trailing in the polls, go negative.” It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now, Denny Rehberg is hardly trailing in the polls but he’s already gone negative. His “mafia ties” campaign against Democratic candidate Dennis McDonald is in high gear. That’s unfortunate, but I suppose it’s easier than mounting a campaign based on substance. Seriously, Denny, how about a discussion on how Wall Street should be regulated, or how to fix the health care crisis, or how climate change should be mitigated, or how to grow sustainable jobs and the Montana economy? Although, again, it’s easier to just follow the party line and vote “no” on any legislation offered up by Democrats than to work toward solutions.

There’s also A.J. Otjen, a moderate, and Mark French (who should have filed as a Constitutionalist), running in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, well, this is a tough one for me. I want the candidate who has the best chances of unseating Rehberg. Period. I’m not sure who that is yet.

Jhwygirl has a post up on Melinda Gopher that has generated a plethora of comments — a couple from one of Rehberg’s primary challengers, A.J. Otjen. I really like Ms. Gopher. Her straightforward campaign is quite refreshing and her enthusiasm for progressive issues is contagious. A few things bother me, though: her late entry into the campaign leaves her way behind in fundraising and organizational staff, her ability to do outreach to constituencies outside of the human rights’ sphere is questionable, and the fact that she’s using Republican talking points against primary opponent Dennis McDonald. Please, Melinda, stick with the issues and leave the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric to Rep. Rehberg.

Then there’s Tyler Gernant. This sharp, young fellow has mounted a quality campaign and is only slightly behind McDonald in the fundraising category. As opposed to Gopher, though, and even McDonald, his campaign lacks the inspiration that would fire up an activist like me. He’s being tentative and I don’t think that serves a candidate well in the primary. Here’s a quote from Helena progressive Frank Kromkowski to Mr. Gernant in a recent email blast:

From what I can tell, your campaign platform has very little substance and nothing bold and progressive that will help Montana get beyond the superficial conservative Rehberg line … Say something significant, for example, about the illegal and disastrous US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan — such as “Bring the troops home” and “no more money for war” — and use the dollars wasted on military adventures that have no real value to US security for jobs, housing, health care, protection and improvement of the aging water and wastewater systems in Montana’s cities and town. We need a progressive Democrat to replace Rehberg (not just another Baucus).
On the other hand, Tyler has been hitting the road and working the counties and the media. And underneath his rather soft message, I believe beats the heart of a progressive.
The third Democratic candidate, Melville rancher Dennis McDonald, is the one the party has been grooming for this race. That’s both good and bad. Having support of party leadership gets one lists and funding and organization. But it also proffers the title of “insider” or part of “the machine.” I’m not so sure that’s a good title to have these days. I’ll give McDonald credit, though, for bucking our Montana Senators and coming out early for single-payer, universal health care. It should also be noted that a frequent Republican commenter at 4&20, Pogo Possum, and other conservatives I’ve talked to believe that McDonald is the strongest Democratic candidate in the field. McDonald also has the Montana AFL-CIO endorsement.
There’s a fourth candidate, Sam Rankin, out of Billings. I like what I saw on his website but otherwise know nothing about this fellow. Better get your butt up to Missoula, the county with the most Democratic voters in the state, and get your message out if you expect to be a player at all. And feel free to get a hold of us at 4&20, we’d be glad to post your talking points.
So who gets the nod? The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman — who’s underfunded and not well-connected (outside of tribal politics) and is a party outsider? The other new face — the policy-smart, well-organized and politically savvy candidate with a potentially great future in Montana Democratic politics (but has a less than passionate campaign thus far)? Or the established, out front, Montana rancher who is the best known and may have the best demographic appeal but, is also considered a party insider (and has received the most press, both positive and negative)?
Consider this an open thread. What are your insights into this race, gentle reader? I haven’t made up my mind, yet, and there are only seven weeks left until the June 8 primary election.


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by jhwygirl

Missoula County Transportation Planning Division will be doing a non-motorized traffic count in May, but it’s going to take some volunteers – and the more the better.

This flyer has more information on the count, along with the short 1-hour training schedule dates (which are April 29th and May 6th).

The traffic counts will occur two days, two different times: Tuesday, May 4th, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, May 8th, noon to 2 p.m.

The county has a sign-up sheet at the main transportation webpage….and get over there and sign up. Today’s what – the 20th? First training session is the 29th.

Anyways – this is certainly a worthy effort – all part of a needs assessment to determine what it is Missoula uses and how we use it, in terms of non-motorized transportation and its infrastructure. It’s hard to justify grants without raw data….and don’t you know, we’d all be wealthier with more grants and less tax $ for that infrastructure.




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