Archive for April 22nd, 2010

by jhwygirl

Got mine the other day….and what is really neat is the Missoula County has created an online ballot tracking system that allows absentee voters to track their ballot online.

How cool is that?! First in the state, I hear.

County officials believe the online tracking system will also help reduce the call volume the Elections Office receives leading up to elections freeing up busy staff to focus on other Election Day related duties.

“The tracking system allows voters to participate in elections in a new way,” remarked Vickie Zeier, Elections Administrator. “The voters get to check on their ballot and make sure it’s moving through the process as it should be. It’s really exciting to give electors that option.”

Not registered absentee yet? Check this page out.

In other news, Missoulian Editor’s blog from Sherry Devlin reports that the Missoulian has created a k-12 schools beat – and have an assigned reporter, veteran Jamie Kelly.

That is great news. I hear very interesting things – good things – coming from both Big Sky and Hellgate High Schools, and it’d be good to hear more from these young citizens of Missoula. School board coverage should be more apparent too. Besides that – we’ve got the school trustee and levy requests on the ballot, and hell, I don’t even know the who what where (and I can’t find a sample ballot).

Anyways – looking forward to that school beat coverage.

by jhwygirl

In what is the first various-and-sundry-like post I’ve ever seen from one of Montana’s very best bloggers, Wulfgar! weighs in with his thoughts (and advice to Democrats and Republican’s alike) on the congressional primary races.

Interesting stuff he’s saying…and you know – and I am NOT saying this to be critical of anything – that kind of thinking is what makes Montana elections so unprecedented at times. Montana’s elections have pulled some whack results….and really, I know people who are considering doing pretty much what Wulfgar! kinda snarkily puts out there.

It’s an interesting perspective on the election.

I have some concern about this happening – there are a lot of serious legislative races that can not be left to such folly. I just hope people think carefully about the down-ballot races, too – because in a primary, you only get one party’s ballot.

“I challenge white male privilege in this election”

by JC

Well, that didn’t take long! Two days ago 4&20’s own Pete Talbot wrote up a quick profile of Montana’s Congressional race. And of course, by doing so, he had a few things to say about Melinda Gopher. First off, the platitudes:

“I really like Ms. Gopher. Her straightforward campaign is quite refreshing and her enthusiasm for progressive issues is contagious… The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman.”

Then the digs:

“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.”

To all of which Gopher replied on her blog today:

“I got in this race, after failing to seeing an electable Democratic candidate step forward. My family has a long and proud tradition in the state of advancing equality. To attempt to pigeonhole me in a particular constituency is unfair, as Pete Talbot does in his post on 4& 20 Blackbird…

First, Talbot singles me out: no other candidate in this race has the track record I have in addressing Montana civil rights and environmental issues, and that includes the incumbent. Second, McDonald’s representation–that was detailed as, a friendship of sorts, by two different writers; of a crime family hit man are not Republican talking points–his electability is fair game and a valid consideration in this race. Certainly Montana voters I have spoken to, now too many to count–are alarmed. Third, accusing me of policy-avoiding rhetoric is just plain untrue. All one has to do is read my campaign blog right here, to see that I–unlike all of my other opponents, have been doing that very thing. Every forum, rather than play it safe, and deliver a canned five minutes, I put my skin out there and do just that–I talk about the issues. Of course, Talbot chooses to single me out and hold me to the high bar. And thats ok, I expect that, I was prepared for it, that is why I will win. Thank you Pete Talbot.”

Yes, thank you Pete Talbot! For once we get to see a candidate who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, and speak her mind, no matter whom gets in her cross hairs. And it is our very own Pete Talbot who gets to sharpen Ms. Gopher’s foil!

Much ado has been made about all of the regular political process for the democratic primary to pick a worthy opponent to try and unseat Denny Rehberg. And much of that primary already has consisted of three dems trying to garner some attention by trying to differentiate themselves from the other. But what it really comes down to is who has a chance to beat Rehberg in the fall.

Traditional politics would tell us that the candidate with the most money and name recognition will do best. But the 2008 campaign would tell us differently, when John Driscoll ran a campaign in which he did virtually nothing–didn’t raise any money, and didn’t run a traditional effort. And for that he won a third of the vote. Not a single candidate running against Rehberg in the last 4 elections has garnered more than 40% of the vote, two of which ran conventional campaigns fullof money, staff, and outreach: Velazquez in ’04 and Lindeen in ’06. So what’s a candidate to do?

If any democrat is going to have any success in unseating Denny, they’re going to have to take an unconventional approach. And Gopher seems to be settling into hers: grab the bull by the horns and twist them till they cry uncle. Speak truth to power.

One way I think about which of the candidates would have the most success is by looking at how Rehberg would respond to them. How will McDonald and Gernant campaign against Denny? How would Gopher? If Gopher were to take Rehberg head on like she went after Pete, then I think she has a fighting chance. After all, what is Rehberg going to do? Go negative on a Native American woman activist rising out of her HIll 57 roots? Ignore her? Answer her policy challenges? Most likely he would try and swat her aside, as he previously did with challengers Driscoll, Lindeen, Velasquez, and Kelly. McDonald and Gernant pose large targets for Rehberg. Gernant with his youth and inexperience. McDonald for his role as party insider and out-of-stater baggage.

Many people would like to make this an election about ideas and policies, where if we could have a rational debate, that reason would win, and Rehberg lose. But the national political climate is anything but attuned to that sort of rhetoric. Candidates bandy about policy points finely tuned to match a poll indicating where the wind blows.

I want a candidate who is willing to attack Rehberg for all they’re worth. A candidate who isn’t afraid to step on some toes as she guns for the jugular and rips the silver spoon out of Denny’s mouth. And the only candidate I see that seems willing to do what needs to be done in order to beat Rehberg seems to be Melinda Gopher.

Pete’s lamentations about his perceptions of Gopher’s downside can be addressed: money can be raised; staff built and organized; and outreach expanded beyond her traditional base. As to the “the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric” he decried, well, that’s politics. I see plenty of policy meat in Gopher’s writings, indicating a keen mind willing to jump into the policy arena and debate: “I challenge any of my other opponents to delve as deeply into the issues as I have; they all lack the political courage to do so”. And that negative rhetoric, well, I have to agree that McDonald has some baggage that is just going to make him an easy target in the fall, and make for an ugly campaign.

People have lambasted me for wanting to make Rehberg’s character an issue in this election. But I think it is key, as the regular policy debates have become useless talking points dictated by polling and regulated by media megaphones. And no one seems concerned about Rehberg’s lack of achievement. In fact, many think his lack of achievement is a bonus, as it leaves him with little controversy over his accomplishments–there are none. I think that if voters were to look to the character of our candidates, they will see a clear difference between Gopher and Rehberg.

But the race has finally hit the first turn, and is heating up. This should be fun!




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