“Something Fundamental is Amiss with [Jon Tester’s] Campaign”

By JC

James Conner over at Flathead Memo has a nice analysis of polling numbers in the Tester/Rehberg race. He also mentions that Tester is leading the money battle:

“…Tester’s trailing in the polls while leading in campaign contributions suggests that something fundamental is amiss with his campaign.”

It just takes a quick trip over to Open Secrets to see who has been funding Jon Tester’s Senate campaign. In the top 20 list of contributors to his campaign, outside of #1 being the LCV, the rest are a motley crew of bankers, PR flaks, lawyers and lobbyists.

Something fundamentally amiss? Look no further than the businesses represented by his individual donors:

1 League of Conservation Voters $61,982
2 Thornton & Naumes $45,600
3 JPMorgan Chase & Co $45,000
4 Visa Inc $33,500
5 First Interstate BancSystem $29,000
6 WPP Group $26,000
7 Pederson Group $24,700
8 Comcast Corp $23,750
9 Wells Fargo $23,500
10 Cauthen, Forbes & Williams $20,800
11 Akin, Gump et al $20,732
12 Kelso & Co $20,000
13 TCF Financial $17,969
14 Patton Boggs LLP $17,500
15 Credit Union National Assn $17,000
16 US Bancorp $16,200
17 AFLAC Inc $16,000
18 Citigroup Inc $15,500
19 Williams Kherkher $15,250
20 Bergman, Draper & Frockt $15,150
31 American Express $12,500
33 Goldman Sachs $12,300
47 Bank of America $10,000

What’s amiss is that Senator Tester has spent his time in D.C. following in Max Baucus’ footsteps learning how to pander to Wall Street and other corporate interests to fluff his campaign coffers.

Of course his poll numbers are lagging. He’s representing the wrong constituency. As a contrast, Denny Rehberg’s top 20 list of contributors doesn’t contain a single Wall Street Bank.

What does candidate Tester expect his poll numbers to reflect, when his primary campaign contributors come from the constituency most detested by democrat and independent voters?


  1. What bothers me about Dennys list is the number of companies that seek to under mind the environmental laws in our state. I know Big Jon hasn’t done the best of job but do you want national companies taking over small business (California Dairies Inc) taking over whats left of our dairy farmers or trashing the environment in the pursuit of oil?

  2. petetalbot

    You know I’m not a Democratic Party apologist, JC, and the number of financial institutions donating to Tester’s campaign is troubling but …

    1) The #1 contributor being the League of Conservation Voters says a lot (you certainly won’t see that on Rehberg’s list).

    2) Rehberg’s list is just as troubling but in a different way: energy companies, Citizens United, Boehner’s ‘Freedom Project’ PAC, etc.

    3) Tester showed that he’s not in the pocket of the banks when he voted against the Wall Street bailout.

    I understand your concern that Tester’s contribution list might alienate his base. I don’t think that’s the reason Tester is trailing in the polls, though. We’re still a red state. Not as bad as, say, Idaho or Wyoming but we trend right. I also think that the Rehberg campaign’s message that ties Tester to Obama is working as many Montanans just don’t like Obama (for all the wrong reasons, IMHO). Keep in mind that Tester barely beat Conrad Burns in ’06 and Burns had been painted as corrupt and insulting to women, minorities, fire fighters … Rehberg has some baggage, too, but at least not the corrupt tag (although I’m sure he wouldn’t be above taking Abramoff money if Jack was still around).

    I may be playing straight into Tokarski’s “triangulation” argument but this is more than voting for the lesser of two evils. Rehberg in the Senate would be a disaster.

    • JC

      I’m not trying to take sides here. But Tester’s position on the Banking Committee has led him to take many votes in favor of Wall Street Banks. And I’m not the only one in the state who has taken notice.

      People may accuse me of taking a stretch here by linking Tester’s votes on the Banking Committee with his Wall Street contributors, and losing a few percent of his supporters, but I think there is a connection. His vote’s on too big to fail, and the credit card swipe issues were directly against what most progressive Montanans supported. And Tester profited handsomely from those votes from Wall Street supporters.

      Here’s an article I wrote a while back about Tester’s connections with Wall Street:

      ‘Two-step’ Tester Dances with Lobbyists over Wall Street FinReg

  3. rosspkeogh

    Not sure i get the link. Employees of financial service companies and lobbyist are contributing to Jon, and that some how implies that he is in not in-touch with Montana? First, as Pete points out, Tester’s voting record suggests otherwise. And second, we have a little bit of sample selection bias going on. Larger firms, especially the type with disposable income to contribute to campaigns at the levels to get picked up on open secrets, have more employees.

  4. Matthew Koehler

    LCV has hosted fundraisers for Senator Tester in DC, so that’s likely why that number is so high. I also have heard from a number of LCV employees that they don’t support much of what Tester has done regarding his wolf-rider, mandated logging bill, guns in parks, keeping lead in ammo, etc. So, I think the LCV’s support of Tester is more anti-Rehberg, than pro-Tester.

    Of course, Rehberg’s environmental record is pitiful, I’d never argue that it isn’t. However, as many of the pro-Tester people point out, Rehberg hasn’t been very effective in the House, so much of his anti-environmental voting record, or bills he’s co-sponsored, really don’t amount to “trashing the environment” on the ground. However, bills like the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act (which Rehberg has co-sponsored) do make good fodder for campaign ads, even if they have no chance on earth of becoming law. And let’s not forgot that bills like this allow special interest groups to fundraise with doom-and-gloom, send us more money so we can stop Rehberg from developing wildlands pleas….while these same groups ignore the roadless areas and Wilderness Study Areas that would be released by Tester’s mandated logging bill.

    There’s a solid case to be made that given the current administration and current make up of Congress, an anti-environmental House member (Rehberg) does a lot less long-term damage to the environment than a conservative Dem in the Senate (Tester) who wants to delist ESA species via a rider, or mandate extra national forest logging through a rider. Of course, that situation might change if Nov 2012 brings about a Triple R on the national level.

    In the home stretch, perhaps the toughest deal Tester will face is the fact that Baucus announced he’s running for Senate in 2014. I’m sure we’ll see Rehberg referring to Tester-Baucus-Obama in the same breath on a very regular basis. Nice move Max!

    • It should also be pointed out that the LCV is a national organization that is moderate compared to any of the Tea Party associations. Tester is a Montana Democrat and that would be seen as conservative in any of the large city states west of the Mississippi without the wingnut baggage of the Tea Party candidates. Rehberg has not delivered much – either to his corporate people or the people in Montana – so if I were to back a horse in this race as LCV, I would choose Jon.

      I think Tester’s voting record is what we should be concerning ourselves about (especially how it compares to Rehbergs) but then, I am not a party purist – I am a voter without a party.

  5. Swede Johannson

    It’s plain to see Jon wasn’t concerned about Montanans OWS voters.

  6. Steve W

    Thanks for the link to the Flathead Memo piece. It’s well written and it makes sense.

    About the only good news for Jon is that the race is close, even if Rehberg appears to be holding a slight lead.

  7. petetalbot

    A few things Tester could do to blunt criticism is actively advance a Constitutional Amendment to strike down Citizens United, pursue other legislation that would restrict campaign donations and expenditures, and reign in lobbying influence.

    You’ll never see Rehberg doing anything like that.

  8. Matthew Koehler

    The die has been cast….Besides, I’m not sure just how effective Sen Tester would be at reigning in lobbying influence when he’s currently the #1 recipient of campaign contributions from registered lobbyists out of all 535 members of Congress.

    • Do you get your talking points directly from Representative Rehberg’s office?

      We get it, Matt. You’re still mad at Senator Tester. It’s just sad that you spend this much energy working to elect someone who will vote to devastate the wilderness to get paid to defend.

      • JC

        Pogie replied to me at ID:

        “You’ve also repeatedly ignored the fact that you’re wrong about Tester and big banks. Just because you keep writing it doesn’t make it true, no matter how much you believe it.

        Do you really believe that big banks would rather have Jon Tester in the Senate that Dennis Rehberg? Really? Are you that disconnected from reality?”

        No Pogie, just because you don’t understand the facts behind the votes Tester cast on the FinReg and CC swipe bills doesn’t make your assertions true. Fortunately there’s a thing called the google. Here, read this story about Too Big to Fail, and Tester’s vote:

        I’d give you a link to Tester’s card swipe vote too, except I already left it for you over at ID when we had that discussion.

        And thanks of accusing me of being disconnected from reality. Nice ad hominem. As to what the banks want, either they have shown their appreciation for Tester’s votes with their contributions (which would be rather corrupt) or they are buying his loyalty for the next cycle. And as he has received far more than Rehberg from Wall Street, who are you to assume that banks would rather have Rehberg?

        A dem bought and paid for on the Banking Committee is far more valuable to Wall Street than a bohunk on the Interior Committee.

        • I look forward to the next edition of the same tired arguments from the same pseudonym against Jon Tester.

          It must be quite liberating to attack someone’s character, assert that he is corrupt, and do your little part to help elect a Republican majority to the US Senate.

          As for me, I’ll stick to the reality-based community. I’ll probably spend my energy supporting someone who is not only far better than the alternative, but someone who has worked hard on issues important to most people on the Left.

          And you’re still wrong about swipe fees. In your extensive travels, ask the small banks in Montana who wanted Senator Tester to look out for their interests. That’s what a Senator from Montana should do.

          • Rt

            Seriously? What about all of the small companies in Montana paying outrageous swipe fees to banks? For every “small bank” in Montana that Tester’s handout would have helped, I would bet there’s at least 500 small Montana companies getting hosed by outrageous swipe fees. He did it for the campaign contributions…and it worked wonders. Get a clue Pogie.

            • So if Senator Tester had worked the other way on this bill, he would have been working for businesses, not banks–and JC could have made the same exact post.

              As for me, I certainly haven’t noticed any savings coming my way. After all, didn’t merchants claim that they could reduce prices with the reduced fees? Like those in favor of Tester’s bill (which was to delay and study the bill’s impact, by the way) claimed?

              It must feel really good doing Karl Rove’s work for him from the Left, but it sure confuses me to see people here do it.

              Incidentally, Dennis Rehberg never took a position on the bill:
              http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_b2ea22df-03ee-561f-94c8-997b70085942.html

              He just used it to score some cheap political points over and over again. Hmm, sounds familiar.

  9. Swede Johannson

    I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Mark.

    In November we have basically two choices. One choice will tell you he’s for the environment, the little guy, vast tracts of new wilderness, never ending jobs and government programs for everyone. But when the votes are tallied and the banquet halls torn down turns out that choice misrepresented himself.

    The other choice is a more honest one. No question on where he stands environmentally, endorses “multi-use” forests, stands for responisible spending, responsible development of our natural resources and the well paying jobs they invite.

    I truly understand your predicament. Would the 2nd choice be better than the first based on the fact you’re prepared for conflict? Do you further your cause knowing what and where battles will be fought? Does your side rally/fight better united against a proven foe?

    Looks that way to me.

  10. mahmet7

    Melcher redux? Tester’s calculations seem to discount the Burns phenomenon in 1988, and the significance of Democratic Party defections that contributed mightily behind the scenes. Williams has repeatedly warned Democrats to avoid “Melcherization.” The margins are razor thin today as they were then. Libertarians may once again take that perennial 3%-5%.

  11. lizard19

    when it comes voting time, I will be thinking about how Jon Tester treats his constituents: rude disregard, like he exemplified in his out-of-line reponse to Matt Koehler back in 2009.

    sadly, that kind of response is indicative of how many on the “far left” get treated by Democrat party loyalists.

    maybe that’s why Don, at ID, has lowered himself to expressing his disingenuous curiosity regarding whether or not JC, Matt, Mark, and I are the same person.

    pathetic.

    • Good to see that so-called progressives are devoting this much energy to electing Dennis Rehberg because of personal animosity.

      I’m sure that women stripped of health care and abortion rights, children stripped of nutritious meals in schools, the elderly who need to make due with Medicare vouchers, laborers who lose the right to organize, and wilderness advocates who watch the elimination of the Clean Air Act and end of the ESA will appreciate it.

      After all, it’s about principle, right? If someone is mean to you or votes against your position a few times, it makes far more sense to devote your energy to tearing him and electing someone who is far worse.

      Congrats on being morally superior to Jon Tester and everyone else. That should provide real comfort when we see the Republican agenda fully unleashed on the American public.

      • lizard19

        I certainly don’t mean to start yet another fight with the 4&20 blackbirds blog

        yeah right.

        first, let’s get something straight. I am not JC, Mark T., or Matt, although you know that. you were just being obnoxious and dismissive. but hey, ID is your “progressive” blog, and you can do what you want, like delete two of my comments because you couldn’t handle what you started.

        despite that, I invite you to continue your dismissive crap over here, because I’m not going to delete your comments, no matter what you say.

        for example, you can keep reducing what are SUBSTANTIVE concerns about Tester to “personal animosity”, and folks can decided for themselves.

        they can read that link to the New West piece and decide if the signature legislation Tester crafted really stands the stink test when it comes to the process that produced it.

        tell me Don, why do you think so many Americans abstain from voting? I’m guessing one underlying reason is people are tired of politicians saying shit to get elected that never materializes.

        Tester talked about transparency. Tester criticized legislative gimmicks, like riders. explain that deviation between word and deed however you want, (make sure to use words like “practical” and “sensible”).

        for some voters, the disappointment that our political system seems to transform inspiring candidates into less than honest brokers of political power may keep them home. that’s just part of the reality Tester is facing in his bid for reelection.

        if Tester loses, then it’s because he made some strategic mistakes. no one held a gun to Jon’s head and told him to use the word “extremist” to refer to people who HELPED GET HIM ELECTED.

        and I don’t think how you express your obvious disdain for people like Matt and JC really helps your cause either.

        (p.s., you really did do a good job telling that story at Missoula Moth. it’s terrifying getting up on that stage)

        • If you really think I deleted your comments because I couldn’t handle your arguments, that’s fine. I’ll probably keep deleting them, then.

          If you can’t see the difference between the ones I deleted and the ones I left up, maybe a little introspection is in order.

          • lizard19

            I didn’t say you couldn’t handle my argument, I said you couldn’t handle what you started—which was a little flame war with that stupid comment about Mark, Matt, JC, and I being the same person.

            you might want to try and live up to your own standards about keeping arguments from getting personal if you can’t take the heat.

            • What’s the difference between you and Mark? Seriously, I’m curious.

              You guys banned him from your site for doing exactly what you do, so it’s confusing to those of us who haven’t escaped the shackles of partisanship like you have.

              What is the difference between the two of you?

              • lizard19

                age, good looks, poetic skill, state of residence, commitment to action when it comes to social justice, and I don’t go trolling cowgirl’s circle-jerk site for fun.

                and I don’t troll your site, either, though that wasn’t always the case. I might be presuming this, but I thought there was a bit of understanding. you kind of trashed that by being condescending and dismissive of what I see as serious problems with how your boy Jon Tester has decided to roll with how he wields political power.

                anyways, it’s just a little flame war, Don. I’ve gotten kind of use to a certain level of ridicule. It’s all good, as the kids say. life goes on.

  12. Matthew Koehler

    Lizard said, “but hey, ID is your “progressive” blog, and you can do what you want, like delete two of my comments because you could’t handle what you started.”

    Don Pogreba apparently has a history of censoring and removing comments over at his blog, as he’s done it to me also. For a short while, he would not only censor my comments, but then re-write them with his own words, such as “Insert smug, presumably factually challenged remark here.”

    I’m not sure what your censored comments had in them, Lizard, but below is a comment of mine that Don repeatedly censored from his blog. Ironically, Don censored this comment despite the fact that he had written a post about Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, so it was totally on-topic. But apparently my comment below was so inappropriate Don needed to censored it from his blog.

    Sort of strange for a teacher like Don to censor a comment that takes the radical step of providing people with a link to Tester’s FJRA U.S. Senate hearing, don’t you think?

    —————–

    Pogie, thank you so much for bringing up my 2009 Senate testimony.

    Anyone can view the entire Senate hearing here:
    http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Hearings.LiveStream&Hearing_id=506d4038-9383-540e-6697-6db84663f270

    I was invited to testify on behalf of over 50 conservation groups from around the country and I was actually quite pleased with both my testimony and responses during the Q/A session. I’m pretty sure the same could not be said of Senator Tester. Oh my, Don, have you actually forgotten about this article about the actual Senate hearing?

    LET’S HAVE AN APOLOGY
    What Tester’s Outburst Tells Us
    Mean-spirited, personal attack at congressional hearing completely out of line, especially coming from a member of the U.S. Senate.
    http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/what_testers_outburst_tells_us/C41/L41/

    • lizard19

      in one of the comments I mentioned that I would introduce myself to you one of these days, then you can see for yourself that I am a distinct individual separate from JC and Mark ;)

      anyway, all this reiteration of the same points is tiring, and there are many other things to be doing and paying attention to.

      honestly, from what I’ve been reading about Fukushima, we might not have to wait for Israel to start a nuclear holocaust; it could already be happening.

      it certainly makes political wrangling seem like a gratuitous waste of time.

    • Matt,

      As I told you then, I deleted your comment because it was spam. When you post the same thing over and over again all over the Internet, without change, it’s spam.

      Spam is defined as sending “the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet.”

      Don’t forget the part about how you threatened to sue me for it, though. I thought that was the best part of the exchange.

      • Pogo Possum

        Pogie, you shouldn’t have to take grief from Lizard.

        It’s amusing to find Lizard criticizing others for censoring or deleting his posts on their blogs when he is the blogger most frequently censoring and deleting posts on the 4&20 site.

        I have said this before. Censor/delete whomever you wish, just be honest about it. Don’t mislead readers or lie about the words deleted or the reason for the censoring. Lizard has censord me and Swede in the past and flat out lied about what I said on several occasions.

        I am still debating whether it’s due to his lack of maturity or a lapse of integrity.

        • lizard19

          can you be a bit more specific Pogo? if you’re going to accuse me of being dishonest, back it up.

          • Pogo Possum

            Back in October you deleted at least four of my comments during a discussion, Lizard then insinuated the reason was that I had outed Problem Bear’s identity and the identity of other anonymous posters on this site. That was a lie and you know it. I never mentioned his name or anyone’s true identity but that is what you tried to make people believe. I also never gave any information on any anonymous blogger that would insinuate his/her real identity.

            Pogie doesn’t owe you any apology. I just find it amusing that you would throw a hissy fit about it after how you have treated others.

            Here is the topic and parts of the exchange:
            https://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/framing-the-narrative-for-occupymissoula/

            *******************************
            (series of deleted comments)

            lizard19
            October 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm
            you certainly are seeming pretty desperate here, pogo. going after fellow bloggers the way you did earlier tonight has consequences.
            makes me wonder what’s at stake for you. i guess you want to be the champ and not the knock-out, right? looks like below the belt is the only way you’re going to accomplish that.

            Reply
            Pogo Possum
            October 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm
            off-topic comment deleted.

            lizard19
            i took down your last comment, pogo. it was out of line. anonymity goes both ways. you better remember that.

            Pogo Possum
            October 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

            You took it down Lizard? Then I will address my comments to you.
            PBear stated that I had outed him in the past and was trying to out him in my most recent comments. That is not only false but it is ridiculous. Click his name in the upper right hand column and you can see he publishes his own name. He has also proudly spoken about his affiliation with his named employer on numerous occasions.

            In spite of what his false post said, I never outed him or anyone else on this or any other blog even though I know the names and affiliations of many of the anonymous posters here. I have always respected the anonymity of those who seek it.

            What I don’t respect are moderators who make broad attacks against local groups of innocent people because of their occupations or employers then claim fowl when someone calls them on it.

            I also don’t respect bloggers who censor someone then lie about what was censored.

            Both you and PBear make decent points at times. But both of you have exceptionally thin skin and have a frequent tendency to act immaturely. Fortunately, for 4&20, there are moderators here who give this blog respectability by being the responsible adults in the room

            *******************

            • lizard19

              I took problembear at his word when he stated you were the one who outed him. you claim that’s not accurate. I don’t have any way to prove what is true and what is false about all that.

              • Pogo Possum

                “I don’t have any way to prove what is true and what is false about all that.”

                To start off with Lizared, you could have actually read the comments (even the ones you deleted) to determine what was said. If you would have, you would have seen I never mentioned his name on that thread or any other.

                And second, how can you “out” someone who has his real name printed in his b’bird blog profile? In spite of that, I still never mentioned his name.

                Finally, for someone who “doesn’t have any way to prove what is true and what is false” you were pretty quick to delete my comments and tell people I had outed PBear and imply I was outing others.

                Maturity ior Integrity still trying to decide Lizard.

              • lizard19

                I see where you’re confused. no, it wasn’t that thread where the alleged outing took place. it was much previous to that comment thread, and I believe it was inadvertent. and yes, since being outed, pbear includes his real name now.

                I looked in our trash to see if your deleted comments were still there, and they’re not, but if I recall you were using pbear’s place of employment in that comment thread, and that’s why your comment was deleted.

                besides that particular comment thread, have you had any other comments deleted by me?

                also, thank you for the gift, that was very generous.

        • lizard19

          and to be clear, it’s not the deleting of my comments that I had a problem with, it was the author’s disregard for his own standards I took issue with. but whatever, it’s not that big of a deal. you can also note that, despite personal attacks against me here, Don had none of his comments deleted.

          if you think you’ve been treated unfairly here, Pogo, please specify. and I’ll provide plenty of examples of ad hominem attacks by you that remain in the archives. it’s not like you make appearances on any of my posts to actually argue anything substantive; it’s usually just condescending ridicule.

          I think there is a good amount of tolerance here generally for all the disruptive attempts to derail comment threads away from the substance of the posts. hell, just look at Swede’s last comment.

          • Pogo Possum

            At least Pogie has some identifiable standards Lizard. I am still trying to find yours.

            And I was specific Lizard.

            If you want to censor someone then do it – just be honest about it. You were not.

            I am amazed that someone like you who dishes out you own ad hominem attacks and and personal insults like popcorn to any and all who disagree with you feigns indignation when you get a dose of your own medicine. Your attacks on Pogie are just one example.

            If anything, Pogie has proven you can dish it out but you can’t take it Lizard.

  1. 1 Tester Shockingly Raises Money. Probably the Right Thing to Do in a Senate Race | Intelligent Discontent

    […] certainly don’t mean to start yet another fight with the 4and20 blackbirds blog over the relative merits of Senator Tester and Representative Rehberg, but it’s hard to overlook […]




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