Archive for the ‘2006 Election Night’ Category


“If you want to be a malleable politician, you campaign from the center. But if you want to be a leader, you define the center. You don’t rely on polls to tell you where to go. At best, polls tell you where people are, and it’s pointless to lead people where they already are. The essence of political leadership is focusing the public’s attention on the hard issues that most would rather avoid or dismiss.” — Robert Reich, Reason

With those words firmly planted in mind, I’m going to relate a story of how Jon Tester’s candidacy for the Senate was given a huge boost by a contingent of Montanans throwing their weight behind his candidacy in the 2006 primary against John Morrison and others.

And we start the story with a poll: John Morrison +1%.

That was the number that was staring at Democrats a few weeks before the June 6th, 2006 Democrat primary for Senate in Montana. Coupled with that number were other polls that showed Morrison at a serious disadvantage compared to Jon Tester in a one-to-one matchup against 3-time incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.

Sitting back in the pack of Democrats running in the primary was Paul Richards, polling at about 2%. While 2% isn’t much, during the general election, almost 200,000 votes were cast Democrat. So around 4,000 people could have been said to support Paul. Not a large number, and not a particularly big political base from which to attempt to influence the statewide race. Or so it seems.

But let’s consider for a moment whom those 4,000 people may have been.
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by jhwygirl

The opening line to sentence to Ravalli Republic’s John Cramer’s latest reads “Dennis Unsworth, Montana’s commissioner of political practices, knows the term “engaged citizenry” takes on a whole new meaning in Ravalli County.”

Boy – he couldn’t be more accurate. And he sure knows how to grab a reader.

Not that Bitterrooters have a reputation for being laid back. I know many that use the term crazy when they say “Bitterooters” – the two kinda go together, going back to Battle of the Big Hole days…

In an ongoing soap opera-like saga – a story that would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetically ironic, Dan Floyd, Treasurer for Higher Ground Foundation, an anti-zoning, anti-streamside setback corporation classified as “public benefit with members” (as it is registered with the Secretary of State’s office), is calling on a host of federal, state and local agencies to take action to save his two guest houses from falling into the Bitterroot River.

The Bell Crossing bridge, he claims, is the cause.

Seriously – don’t miss the comments in that one. The Ravalli Republic has some of the best comment strings of all papers around the state. Next to, maybe the Billings Gazette. It’s a tough pick, that contest, I tell ya.

So Dan Floyd, self-described property rights advocate is calling on the government to save his property. Now, to be fair, Floyd didn’t build his house and the two guest houses – he just bought it, where it sits, next to the Bitterroot River and the Bell Crossing bridge. This is sounding a lot like the guy down in the Big Hole who bought property and is now trying to claim a hardship in order to get a variance to build a bridge. In the Big Hole case, he’s been denied – twice now, once on appeal.

You got laugh at the audacity of a person that buys property without access, with laws in place concerning bridges and streamside setbacks (the Anaconda-Deerlodge consolidated planning area has not only had effect regulations in place for years – they have a commitment to them), and then claims hardship.

More on Higher Ground: Higher Ground has been under investigation by Montana’s Office of Political Practices for violating campaign laws. There are at least 9 complaints filed over campaign issues in Ravalli County – and at least two of them are against Higher Ground.

Recently, Unsworth subpoenaed the Ravalli Republic for copies of all ads placed by Higher Ground. Less recently, Unsworth ruled that Ravalli County Citizens for Free Enterprise violated campaign laws and would face prosecution if a settlement isn’t reached.

Citizens for Free Enterprise were found to be, effectively, a front for Wal-Mart, who was seeking to reverse zoning regs which prohibited big box stores. They were successful in overturning the regulations – yet eventually withdrew their plans.

The whole situation down there is very unfortunate – collectively, Higher Ground, along with the Bitterroot Building Association and Residents for Responsible Land Use quite arguably had an impact on voters who recalled the county-wide zoning referendum. This, after significant hours and $ costs to taxpayers – not to mention public involvement.

What worse, is that each of these organizations has multiple charges filed against them. Hell, maybe someone should file RICO charges against them all if they’re found in violation.

The ugly side of what the situation in Ravalli County shows is that big money can buy lots of influence – the repercussions will be long in coming for the perpetrators, yet the sufferings of the electorate will be instantaneous.

How do you get justice out of that?

Floyd (& friends – you can bet Tom Robak is one of ’em) are under investigation for violating laws associated with his campaign against streamside setbacks, yet he seeks justice for the very issues under that which he campaigned against.

How completely ironic is that?

by Jay Stevens 

You may have seen the news: Rep. Ed Butcher (R-Winifred) made some inappropriate remarks in the legislature this week:

Republican Rep. Ed Butcher said he meant nothing derogatory when he referred to Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder and a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, as “Chief Windy Boy” before a House Agriculture Committee meeting Thursday. Butcher also later asked Windy Boy whether his large gavel qualified as a “war club.”

“The whole thing is absolutely absurd,” said Butcher, who also was criticized in 2001 for calling American Indian reservations “ghettos” and apologized in 2004 for referring to severely developmentally disabled students as “vegetables” at an education meeting.


Apologies were made, and it appears that the Winifred Representative is a moron, good for a snark or two.

And just when we think it’s over, we get stunts like this, where Butcher’s racist and ignorant remarks are contrasted with the left blogosphere’s dubbing of loose cannon and House Speaker, Scott Sales, “sideshow.”

There is a little something I would like to point out though. There are a number of blogs in Montana that refer to the Montana Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Sales, in a derogatory, name calling manner and they think that is fine and dandy while disparaging Ed Butcher for his name calling. I know, they will defend themselves by saying Rep. Ed Butcher’s comment is racist and theirs isn’t. I will admit that is true but name calling is not necessary. They should be able to get their point across without the use of prejudicial names if the point they are trying to make is strong enough.

You know, this type of thinking drives me crazy. How in the world could anyone compare calling Sales “sideshow” with Butcher’s remarks? It boggles the mind.

Yes, calling Scott Sales is juvenile, belittles the most powerful political member of the state’s lower legislative body, does not foster a climate of dialog and bipartisanship, etc & co, but — in my opinion — Sales has earned his nickname. In other words, Sales is “Sideshow,” not because he was born with an extra head or any other such accident of birth. No, Sales is a “sideshow” because of the things he’s said or done.

To compare “Sideshow” to Butcher’s remarks is…well…insulting. Butcher spoke from ignorance and made demeaning remarks based on Windy Boy’s race. It’s the worst form of thinking, really, to generalize character based on a person’s appearance or background, things they have no control over. It’s narrow-minded and lazy, at best.

It’d be bad enough were Butcher a blogger. But he’s a representative of Winifred’s citizens serving in the state legislature. His words and actions reflect on his constituents. When he says dumb things he makes all of Winifred look dumb. Besides displaying the lowest form of thinking, he’s also supposed to be more respectful of his fellow legislators than some partisan hack.

Ultimately, Sarpy Sam’s defense of Ed Butcher by saying, “well, golly, look at what the left bloggers are saying,” is absolutely, one-hundred-percent utter bullsh*t.

It’s a far too typical knee-jerk reaction when folks are called out for our worst impulses. It’s not honest. It’s — wait, what’s that term right-wing Christians invariably trot out? — moral relativism, at its worst.

You think an earned nickname should be held to the same standard as racism?

 (For more reasonable criticism of left blogosphere’s rants against Scott Sales, see Mike’s post on “Legislative Demonizing.” Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias counter the crit against left blogo tone, and Drum argues that bloggers should be considered “salty” or “colorful,” not hysterical or vulgar.)

by Matt Singer
Duane Winslow, the Yellowstone County elections administrator, is getting national play for his handling of some election night issues. He’s getting good coverage, which he deserves. He made a minor mistake (as we all so often do), admitted it, and got back to doing his job. Apparently, that’s a rare thing. That’s too bad. But Duane deserves positive coverage. I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting him in person once to the best of my memory — primary night this year. But I’ve spoken on the phone with him several more times and witnessed Yellowstone’s election operations — always one of the best offices in the state.

So three cheers for Duane Winslow, a man who does his job very, very well.

Allen concedes

The Senate is ours.

 It’s over.

by readbetween

Here’s why. (Sorry if this is a little far afield from Montana. It is compensatorily jaw-dropping.)

In Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Republican Vern Buchanan registered 400 more votes than Democrat Christine Jennings. Buchanan declared victory but Jennings has refused to concede because voting machines in Sarasota County, one of three counties that the 13th crosses, registered no votes in House the race on 18,382 — or 12.9% — of the ballots.

According to results posted by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, 140,664 votes registered in the U.S. Senate race and 140,448 votes registered in the governor’s race that were also on the ballot. By contrast, only 123,901 votes registered in the House race, a gap of over 16,000 votes. In fact, about 4,500 more votes registered in the race for Public Hospital Board than in the hotly contested congressional race.

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent speculated that a negative campaign had led many voters to skip voting in the race but undervote totals in other counties for the same race were significantly lower. Also, undervoting was much higher in the regular and early voting that uses electronic voting machines — 13.9% and 17.6% respectively — than in the absentee voting within Sarasota County, which amounted to undervoting of only 2.5%. Of course, absentee voting requires a paper ballot.

There will be a recount but, in this race, there’s no real recount to be had; these are paperless touchscreen vote holes. Dent offers this consolation to the Sarasota Herald Tribune: “After the fact, there’s not a lot we can do about it.”

In other news, by a wide margin, Sarasota County voters demanded paper ballots with optical scan equipment. Florida’s Secretary of State wants a federal judge to declare their decision unconstitutional.

Maybe it’s time for election reform.

By readbetween

I’ve done some quick tabulation of Montana’s legislative races based on AP’s unofficial tally. Sorry there’s no fancy map.

In the Senate, where Democrats had a 27-23 advantage in the last session, the Republicans have tied it up if, the current numbers hold, by taking seats formerly held by Democrats in SD 15 and SD 25. SD 15 is Jon Tester’s former seat; it went to the GOP by a 70-30 margin. SD 25 is the Billings contest between Roy Brown and Margie McDonald for the seat that used to belong to Democrat Brent Cromley; currently Brown’s advantage is 157 votes, a 51-49 marging. If Brown’s lead survives provisional ballotting (and there was a lot of it is the anecdotal report out of Yellowstone County), the Senate will be tied 25-25.

In the House, the following districts look like safe gains for the GOP: HD 13, HD 38 and HD 43. In addition, HD 8 and HD 58 also look like GOP pickups though they are closer. The Democrats seem to have picked up HD 3, HD 36, HD 49 and HD 62 for sure along with a tentative lead in HD 63.

In HD 77, Democrat S. Hogan is within 21 votes of GOP incumbent S. Mendenhall but trailing. Similarly, in HD 1 Democrat E. Carney is within 18 votes of GOP incumbent R. Heinert.

Finally, in HD 12, Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore beat Democrat incumbent Jeanne Windham handily.

By my math, which I need to recheck when I try to flesh out some of what’s happening in the House races (and get near a spreadsheet), the Republicans have picked up five seats and the Dems have picked up five as well. That’s a wash unless HD 1 or HD 77 turns into something different, which is entirely possible, EXCEPT that Democrat Windham is gone. The alignment looks like 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats and 1 Constitution.

To recap, based on unofficial numbers and my potentially erroneous notebook scribbling, the Montana Senate is tied 25-25 and the House breaks down with a Republican majority of half: 50 Rep. – 49 Dem. – 1 Const.

by Matt Singer
Alright, conservative friends. You can all stop that “Matt Singer suicide watch” or whatever it was. ‘Cause it is looking clearer and clearer that we won. Jon Tester has declared victory. With it, the Democrats take the U.S. Senate. We also took the U.S. House. It’s time to get this country back on track.

I’m only now looking more closely at state election results. There’s some interesting things happening out there. More later.

Update:  The AP calls it for Tester!

Well, it’s a close one. But in a close one, I’d rather be up and we are by over 1,000 votes. Burns will probably push this into a recount and file some lawsuits and some such, but we’ll be ready. After all, I know I got 4 or 5 hours of sleep last night. I’m in fightin’ mode.

It’s shortly after 6am on a crazy morning. The latest CNN count has Tester up by 1,500; that seems to have a more up-to-date count than the state’s count, which has fewer votes shown and a 3,000 vote gap. This is a nail-biter. For all of you who pounded the streets, rang on doorbells, and made the calls…well, this part will show how well you did. And for all you who b*tched about the calls…well…I expect you feel a little differently about that now…

Last night was a little surreal. First there was next to no Internet connectivity in the convention hall, which makes it hard on a blogger. Then there was the dismantling of the party itself around midnight – 1am, because another group needed the hall today. Those of us who were left – maybe a hundred or so – marched off to the casino/bar, just to be told by Tester about the Yellowstone recount. To make things especially weird, he waded in amongst us, just like always, except with about four photographers snapping pictures as he went, flashes going – pop pop pop – in the semi-dark. I think most of us were a little stunned. Especially when Tester left and the bar made last call.

I got connectivity to the Net at about 2am last night and submitted a short piece to the Missoula Independent. A little news watching, then bed, circa 3:30am. Now I’ve got to drive back to Missoula, so I won’t be able to post for a few hours. I’m sure you all are glued to your radios and televisions just as I am, and you won’t be relying on this blog for the final tally.

It’s a helpless feeling, isn’t it? Watching the numbers get tallied and re-tallied, and Gallitin County taking its sweet time to not only let its people vote, but to count the d*mn numbers. And the Yellowstone recount – grrr.

We sort of all knew it would come down to the wire, didn’t we? But, honestly. How could so many people vote for Conrad Burns? It’s amazing. What a spin job. I made a $5 bet with a conservative friend that Burns would be indicted by January 1. We’ll see. So far, I’ve been doing all right with the $5 bets, eh Mart T?


With 19% reporting, Tester regains his lead! 56-42%! What’s huge is that Yellowstone county is pulling for Tester right now…I’m going out the floor, where it’s pretty rowdy right now… 


Tester’s lead is shrinking. With 9% reporting, he’s at 52% to Boss Hogg’s 46%. 


With 69% of the vote counted, Wyoming Democrat Gary Traunder leads 50-46%.

Other interesting tidbits: Kansas Democrat Boyda leads Ryun, 52-45%, with 72% reporting. Amazing. Boyda released some internal polls that showed her even or head of Ryun, but a lot of people scoffed that a Democrat could compete in Kansas. Well, guess what, folks? That would be a huge upset.

In Iowa, both contested Democrats lead, Braley with a whopping 60%! IA 1 was held by Republican Jim Nussle, who’s running for governor. Some said it was the litmus test for the war, since the electorate is split about 50-50 GOP/Dem. 60-39%, but only 18% of precincts reporting.

Indiana Democrats take all three contested House seats. Democrats have solid leads in both contested AZ races.

Wow. Democrats have already taken 17 House seats. They have a majority, folks. I believe someone owes me $5.


Missouri doesn’t look so good. Talent 51 – 45%. But they’re still not calling it. Exit polls? Still more left-leaning precints to report?

Meanwhile, Tester gaining ground with 4% in, 54-44%, Jones grabbing 2 points. Will Stan Jones win this election for Jon Tester? 


Democrat Gary Trauner 53-44% in Wyoming!

I can’t believe it!

The room has filled up now, country music plays on the speaker, the buffet is set up. Jag is running around the room. Great Falls Democrats are everywhere – union-heavy, working-class folks, very friendly. I just got invited into a room full of three generations of a very political Great Falls family and given chicken rigatoni and chatted up about Griz football. Everybody is optimistic, and the early returns, 2% reporting, have Tester up 55-43%. Too early. But good. Too early. But good. That doesn’t stop the floor from cheering wildly when they see the numbers.

Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Senate seats are ours. Three of six. The Democrats have also taken 11 of the needed 15 seats. Gary Trauner up by six! No news about Idaho.


The polls are closed. I don’t have Internet connectivity on the floor. Will be sporadic…

6:59 pm

There’s not much of a crowd here, other than the stuffed suits of the media. Oh! And mcjoan from the Daily Kos. The media – what can I say? Chilly? Aloof?

I just met some Great Falls activists. They’ve been doing GOTV this week, and think Tester has a lot of support. Very optimistic.

Max Baucus is here, too. I’ll try to corner him, but he’s d*mn elusive!

No Internet connection right now. Grr.

Democratic Menendez has been called the winner of the New Jersey Senate race. That was the GOP’s second targeted Democratic seat. Oops!

Hey all, I just reached Great Falls and checked into my room. The convention center is still empty, except for two enormous television screens (think movie-theater size) about twenty network cameras and a bunch of suits with microphones. And the Governor!

This morning I was canvassing the Rattlesnake District. Probably picked up two votes – one person who had forgotten today was Election Day (!) and one Burns backer who didn’t know Tester supported gun rights. It was a chilly, wet day, yet everybody we spoke to had voted or was planning on voting.

Anyhow, here are some notes from a poll watcher, for what it’s worth:

Notes from a poll watcher for the Democrats: (For those who don’t know what this involves, a poll watcher holds a list of likely Democratic voters and crosses them off as they come in to vote. He/she also keeps an eye out for vote suppression.) The precinct I watched was near the university in Missoula.The election officials seemed to feel that turnout was really high, even with all the rain. At times there were lines to find out which precinct to vote in, lines to vote, lines to put the ballot in the machine. Eventually people were no longer waiting for booths to open up and just sitting on chairs or the floor to vote. A teacher brought a group of elementary school students to sit in the circle of what was, admittedly, their gym. She then held a lesson about voting. Early on, about 2/3 of the people who voted were on the list. By the time I left at noon, it was closer to 1/2. A little disheartening, but many folks who I knew were Tester supporters in their hearts were not on the list. Also, almost all of those who looked like students were not on the list.

It was pretty much impossible to guess who would or would not be on the list. Woman with long silver hair, long dangly earrings, long flowing skirt, and clogs. On the list. Man in complete camouflage outfit. On the list.

Absentee ballots seemed a big hang-up. Many folks had to vote provisionally because they either requested absentee ballots and didn’t receive them, or lost them, or didn’t know they had requested them.

Man: “I don’t know why they sent me an absentee ballot.”

Woman: “Probably because you were in Iraq last time.”

Both were on the list.

I’ll be heading out to the floor shortly. Meanwhile, Sherrod Brown has been called the winner of Ohio’s Senate race. That’s one Senate seat. Five more to go.

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