by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

  1. I don’t see Essmann gaining much traction from the base. His silly antics during the Legislative session, his support for complete wingnut bills like atlatl hunting, silencers for hunting, and concealed carry without a licence (not to mention both MM repeal bills he championed), had lost for himself a great deal of support from the non-idiot conservatives. Essmann is a joke and worse, he is a member of the so called “God Squad” that are turning off some of even the more conservative members of his party.

    On the Conservative side, I honestly believe it will come down to Hill and Stapleton. Hill is beset by scandle (can anyone say “Mermaid” but don’t count him out. He has proven to be a capable campaigner and could well win the nomination. Stapleton has a lot of support from the more right leaning conservatives, but there are a lot of moderates and former conservatives that think the party has gone way too far to the right.

    If Bullock doesn’t enter the race, it becomes a lot easier for the Republicans to take the seat. You may prefer Wanzenreid to Bullock, but Bullock has far more name recognition to those that don’t pay a lot of attention to politics. Further, you will have a lot of middle of the road people who will be pretty undecided until the actual vote – where name recognition becomes important.

    In my opinion, there is no clear choice in this race. I certainly don’t have a favorite yet, and where I land will depend a LOT on what happens between now and the election.

    • I guess the question is whether there are more non-idiot conservatives than there are idiot conservatives, to use your terminology.

      I know a few conservatives who have said that the performances seen as radical – the “bat-crap crazy” legislation, the blatant hypocrisy and the actual statements and testimony given by both legislators and citizens – is where Montana is heading.

      They’ve been enabled, and they’re here in Montana. They’ve got no fear standing up there and advocating for the death of gay people, for example. Or succession from the U.S.

      It’s not like Montana hasn’t seen that sort of rise of radicals in the past. If you ask me, it’s no coincidence that Ted Kaczynski picked Montana to plot his twisted revenge and pen his manifestos to the nation’s papers.

      Essmann will be the darling because of medical marijuana. Politically, it’s quite clear the knee-jerk issue issue it is – Jent, Bullock, Essmann, Schweitzer. Who have I left out?

      So. are there more bat-crap crazy conservatives? Or are there more moderate ones? Judging from the last election that resulted in the last legislative session?

      True-blue conservatives. Nixon conservatives. Reagan conservatives, even….they have just as much of a road to go as Dems if they truly don’t want to see a nation of Krayton Kerns and Gary Marbuts dismantling America before our eyes.

      • This is not intended as a criticism, but I would venture to say that I probably spend a lot more time talking to conservatives (being one…) than you do. Make no mistake. The moderate and even some of the more right leaning conservatives are tired, embarassed, and angry about the antics of Essmann, the “God Squad”, and the Montana Tea Party. They may not be a vocal as idiots like Knox and Essmann, but they are watching. Already there are indications that the conservatives of this state are, at least to some degree, rejecting the Montana Tea Party and the Ultra right wing (dare I say, Bat Shit Crazy) politicians they support.

        Look a the results of the various School Board Elections around the State. In most of them, the Tea Party darling went down to crushing defeat. I would not be surprised to see something similar next year.

        • I can attest to moorcat’s statements. I am one of those people and I am NOT ALONE. I do not support the tea party hypocrites/God Squad. The last legislative session was truly embarrassing.

  2. A little bit of good news in Sweet Grass County in the school board elections. The conservative and liberal won the two seats with sizeable votes while the Tea Party candidate to whomped. The shenanigans of our Tea Party dominated City Council that led to an attempt to burn down a city nature trails park seems to have awakened this very conservative place to the radicalism of so called “patriots”.

    But most of us have really no where to go as both national parties are craven with a few exceptions. The fish stinks from the head and national politics and punditry keeps messing any attempt of locals to get along or to think outside the box with common sense solutions. The only hope is at the local and state level, but it always comes down to funding. If we can agree on something locally, we still need to fund our ideas. Local currency and state banks are worth looking at.

  3. I think Essmann hijacked cannabis to
    give him name recognition. Although he claims his constituency begged for it, he sent out surveys when he ran for senate that asked those in his district to rate issues most important to them. Out of the 13 or so results listed, medical marijuana wasn’t even mentioned.

    I’m not sure why he thinks that he is needed in an already crowded race. He has no chance of winning. His narcissism apparently knows no bounds.

    We are looking at a replay of 2004 with so many candidates from Yellowstone County, I’d imagine Hill is wearing a smirk.

    I like Wanzenried and I like Stapleton. They are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they both have integrity. They consistently and promptly respond to my questions and they genuinely care about Montana. The other declared and speculated candidates from both parties are devoutly anti-cannabis.

    • I have to admit, Wanzenried is a new name to me (and in truth, I have not paid a lot of attention to the Left leaning side of the fence because I thought Bullock would have entered by now and pretty much grab the left). You are not the first conservative I have heard say nice things about Wanzenried. I will have to send that candidate an email (just like the one I sent Stapleton that hasn’t been answered yet) and see what kind of a responce I get.

      • Of the dozens of legislators I write during session, Sen. Wanzenried is one that always answers.

        • There hasn’t been even one time that I wrote to Wanzenried that he didn’t respond. Even when I sent the same email to every member of the legislature, Wanzenried responded. Often, he was the ONLY one. He’s way far left of me, but I have a ton of respect for him.

          • See, that is the rub. I would much rather vote for a representative that actually engages their constituancy even if their political stance is different than mine. I am certainly not going to vote for a candidate simply because that candidate is closer to my political stance. A candidate has to show that he/she is willing to work with all their constituancy, willing to compromise if necessary for the good of everyone and not be an A&&hat.

      • Steve W

        You can see Wanzenried in action on the video archives. They have the whole session.

        He’s pretty sharp.

  4. I prefer Wanzenried. Bullock strikes me as a grandstanding opportunist.

  5. Ingemar Johansson

    I got this idea. Why don’t you guys run a stoner against Jeff?

    Would be a great match.

  6. Pete Talbot

    Don’t know if I guy like Wanz can pull this off. He’s not a showman: you won’t see him take a branding iron to bad bills, or pander to whackos just to get their votes (like a certain Montana Republican Congressman). But if a hard working, down-to-earth, straight shooting man of integrity is someone you’d like to see in office, then Wanz is the guy.

  7. mr benson

    Essman is a serious candidate. He led the Republican effort to take back the legislature, and he got that job done. In doing so, he made a lot of friends and met a lot of potential donors. His bus tour through Montana was very successful and a good dry run for statewide office.

    IMO when he announces he will be the favorite to win the nomination.

    • Ummm.. What Koolaid have you been drinking? A&&mann doesn’t stand the proverbial chance in hell of winning the nomination. Further, his public appearences since announcing have been utter failures. He was completely unprepared to answer even the questions from conservatives and it doesn’t look to be getting any better. His ties to the “God Squad”, his complete disregard of the will of the majority of Montanan’s, and his nationally embarrassing antics in the last Legislative session guarentee this man’s campaign will only be fodder for late night news “This has got to be a joke, right?”

      • mr benson

        He will be the immediate front runner for the nomination. In addition to what I described, his base in Yellowstone county will be very strong.

        A Rehberg/Daines/Essmann slate is just about the most party unifying the Republicans could put out there. It builds on the momentum of the 2010 elections and sends very solid social conservative message.

        Republicans are looking to unite T and R and fire up the base for donations and turnout. They’ve got the Ralph Reed scenario dialed in.

  8. mr benson

    From Montanafesto: “Montana’s infamous cannabis abolitionist-senator Jeff Essmann wants to clear up some rumors he’s been hearing because you, the voters, “deserve more than rumors”. He’d like you to know that he is “actively considering a run for Governor in 2012.”

    We know because jhwygirl told us months ago, Jeff.

  1. 1 Monday Morning Politics « The Western Word

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