Archive for the ‘2008 Election’ Category


Liz recently wrote about the squabbling inside the dem party about how best to expand Medicaid:

“Failure is often more instructive than success.”

While he has a point, I think that folks need to remember the battle over the Healthy Kids Initiative in 2008-2009.

Here’s the quick down and dirty: in 2008, Healthy Montana Initiative, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit ran a ballot initiative campaign to expand access to health care via CHIP and Medicaid for kids in low income families. The campaign was hugely successful and won at the state polls with 70% of voters supporting it. Kids… gotta love ’em, even it they comes from poor families.

Now the problem with initiatives in Montana is that while they can set up new programs and revenue streams, they can’t appropriate funds. So the initiative had to go the the 2009 Montana Legislature for an appropriation. That Legislature had a deadlocked 50-50 House, and Republicans controlled the Senate 27-23.

The appropriation for the initiative was rolled into HB2, the main funding instrument for the state. So, through a very rancorous session, with the House supporting the Initiative funding, and the Senate trying to gut it at every step of the way, the bill eventually passed with the appropriation intact and the CHIP and Medicaid expansion for poor kids was funded.

A newsletter from the MHRN characterized the legislative battle thusly:

“What was not foreseen was a partisan debacle where many Republicans put anti-government ideology ahead of the health of Montana communities and the clear will of the voters who elected them.

In a stunning disregard for the democratic initiative process, Republicans threatened funding for the Plan at every turn. A majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate stated publicly and repeatedly that voters did not know what they were voting for and/or the Plan was a step towards ‘socialism.’ They threatened to withhold funding for the program.”

So we see that even when a solid majority of Montana voters give the Legislature a mandate to do something, that mandate goes by the wayside when politickin’ and legislatin’ season arrives. That Legislature was only mildly republican, with the words “tea party republican” yet to be coined during the aftermath of the Obama election, and the Baucus-care debacle. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

There is nothing that city council can do that will cause more permanent harm to any semblance of affordable housing in this valley than to approve their current rezoning of the whole city for ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units.)

Beyond that truth, the latest back-and-forth on this insane proposal is the question surrounding the city’s plan to require the owner of an ADU to live on premises. Questions have run the gamut of “Can the city even enforce this?” to “How would the city even enforce this?”

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller’s latest delves into this issue along with other very real possibilities that any reasonable entity should consider before writing something that they actually intend to enforce.

What I have said to myself over these questions the last two weeks – and this is when I really regret not having a Missoulian account with which to comment – is this: How or Could the city enforce this? They aren’t enforcing their current ordinances on ADU’s! Why would any presume that they would enforce this new everyone-can-have-one rule when they aren’t enforcing their current rules on dwelling units?

And isn’t there an inherent conflict of interest on the council for 2 or more city council people? Councilors who own and/or live in an illegal ADU?

The mere fact that their association with illegal ADU’s has been openly discussed in public meetings is proof enough of the intent of the city to enforce its owner-must-live-on-site rule. To think any different is really rather irrational.

I also can’t help but ponder the silence of affordable housing advocates. The idea that the city council is going to turn every square inch of this city into an “investment property” by doubling the density potential on single-family dwelling zoned neighborhoods is absolutely insane. Depending on the design standards they end up settling on, you can add 10-20% (at least) on top of the value of a lot in what is currently a single-family zoned area.

With a unit already built? Who knows what that’ll pull down. Oh – and you can bet that a potential ADU will be a selling point on those selling who haven’t built one yet. Add on a premium for that!

Will it be good for the city? Property values will increase because instead of buying a single family home, new buyers will be writing proforma’s to show the bank how the rental of an ADU will increase their income. This will increase the amount of property taxes collected. Is that good for the city? I guess it depends on how you look at it.

I am sitting back just shaking my head. But then again, I did that when the bailed out the ballpark. And the affordable housing project for a second time. And when they blessed the sale of our water. And when they seriously considered an Arts Center. And when they accepted an RFP from a developer who said they had to have a prime piece of real estate for free in order to make their proposal work.

Election season can’t come soon enough..

by LesleyLotto

3 years ago Senator Barack Obama was little known by most people.  He was a U.S. Senator from Illinois who gave a kick-ass speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, so Hillary Clinton told us.  I was comfortably on the John Edwards bus back then, that face, that message, the hair.  Be still my bleeding, liberal heart.  Hillary was shrill and arrogant with her “It’s 3 A-M” message.  And who remembers the other 9 candidates in the Democratic Party anyway.  But who’s this Barack Obama?  What do we know about him after all?  What audacity he has thinking that after only 2 years-ish in office he could become President of the United States (POTUS).  I always kind of admired John McCain as the Maverick, you know – the guy from the Republican party who walked the talk.  Mitt Romney looked like he was a waffler before we knew he was a waffler.  C’mon, who admits they hunt grouse as a sport anyway?  Mike Huckabee, likable enough, but a tad too Christian for this Jew. I literally forgot all of the other candidates because they were so dull.  Well John Edwards turned out to be a big fat lying disappointment that the National Enquirer outed for sexing it up with, well, words cannot express.  Hillary Clinton – still shrill, now add lying to that, and her husband, oh Bill, really, where to begin.  Then there’s the Maverick, who’s not a Maverick anymore, he’s a meandering, near-senile man hanging onto his glory days that he can barely remember, who slides in a Vice Presidential candidate, a hot mess of a woman, nobody know,s but we all want to take to bed with a nice tourniquet outfitted snugly around her mouth.  Maybe even camouflage in color?  Barack Obama came out of nowhere, with the “Hope”, the “Change”, and the “Yes We Can”.  But still, we know nothing about him.  Where was he born with that name?  And so it begins…

After McCain imploded in 2008 during the worst economic crisis in modern history, Obama slid into victory.  The first Black man to be elected to the highest office in the land.  Tears flowed freely around the world when he was elected.  But then he took office and his first order of business as POTUS was to put together a decent administration (slim pickins round here, might as well find me some old Clinton hangerson),  create jobs and fix the reputation of the United States, which had been so badly tarnished by the administration before. And oh yeah, maybe fix the economy while you’re at it.  The first few little bits of business were okay, passing some equal pay legislation, which has done exactly nothing, passing a massive Healthcare Reform Bill and another Bailout or two for whoever cares to further screw with our economy and announce the closure of the notorious Guantanamo Bay Prison.  Little did poor POTUS know the mean ol’ Republican party would stand at every door putting their palm up to anything remotely  Bi-partisan while crying “Oh, No you di-n’t”.  They also cried, wait, “where were you born again”? or “No, the American people didn’t vote for THAT kind of change”.  The Liberals were also crying, what happened to Single Payer Health Insurance, what happened to my 401k, what happened to the war in Iraq, wait, what, you’re putting more troops in Afghanistan? Then all the independents and liberals ran screaming from the room and took another look at the Republicans, maybe they’re not so bad or maybe they just plugged their noses and voted them back in to take the ever-incompetent, weenie of a Democratic party off their throne in the House of Reps.

What’s a poor liberal to do?  The mean ol’ Republicans are creating (well not really creating, but fomenting) a frustrating, lying, cheating, brickwall of a party who are doing exactly nothing for the American people and the POTUS seems to be cowering in the corner, shivering under the mist of I told you so’s.  Time to bring in David Plouffe to save the day!  He’ll make the President’s message more Badass.   But Plouffe doesn’t do that at all, he hides in the corner with the POTUS devising a plan to walk tall and maintain his lackluster ratings.  Hey, at least they didn’t fall to where “W” was when he left office.  Some of those way over on the left were already holding caucuses to find a contender to run against Obama in 2012, then it happened, something to really make them bleed, ANOTHER war.  Oh my!  After several uprisings in the Middle East, the attacks on civilians, the murder and public rape of journalists and the toppling of a leader or two, the POTUS does the unfathomable, he jumps into a war with Libya, but claims we’re not at war, really.  The blood-thirsty leader of that country now has a rag-tag team of “Rebels” fighting against him and they’re not so far removed from the 2002 “insurgents” in Iraq.  John McCain calls the Rebels his heroes and all is right in the world.  So POTUS with his big, bad multi-kazillion dollar army blasts into Libya to oust Colonel Ghaddafi, but only for two days, “then we’re gone”.  All the while the Republicans, while weeks earlier chided the President for not intervening in Libya, now complain, it’s too late, and oh my yes, “where’s that birth certificate?”.

Then walks in the savior for an entire country, the host of an NBC Reality Show who says, he’ll be the best damn president this country has ever seen, says he too wants to see that missing birth certificate and oh wait, does anybody have a comb?  He spouts off all kinds of foreign policy expertise like he once talked to the Colonel in Libya about a real estate deal on a 6 bedroom tent.

Meanwhile the country people are sufficiently confused because a majority of them say they might just vote for the Reality Show star instead of Mr. Hope and Change.  Then it happens, out of nowhere the President pulls his “long-form” birth certificate out from under his hat, swoops into Libya and kills the Colonel’s son and 3 grandchildren, visits the Tornado decimated south, delivers a hilarious speech at this years “Geek Prom” that makes the Reality Star’s crazy comb-over hair blow back onto his wife’s botoxed forehead with a grin, then coolly let’s his people know the most notorious terrorist the world has probably ever known has been murdered on his order, following his death plan, WAIT, WHAAAA? Back up, yo!

I’m still happily back in March wondering why I voted for this guy when all of the sudden his Hope and Change steel balls descend and the angels start singing and the butterflies of spring are flying and I’m all slathered up in his Hope and Change juice again. Then the POTUS sends an email to all important News organizations who still deliver fair, accurate, truthful, objective and impartial news telling them to get to work and not to worry about the who, what, where, when and why.  His balls descend further as he interrupts the Reality Star’s Show to make the Steel Bally announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  A picture surfaces of the bloody room where the dirty deed happened and another of the POTUS and his National Security team where Obama’s determined and Hillary looks like she might puke (it might have been about 3 A-M in Pakistan when it all ended Ms. Clinton ;)).  The Republicans limply praise our leader’s moves, then go on Fox News demanding pictures and death certificates and videos and first borns and pieces of helicopters and DNA samples.

But after all he’s been through in this one silly weekend, the POTUS maintains the cool character that is he and of which we’ve been disdaining and tells them all to go back to work before he sends the newly minted head of the Democratic Party Debbie Wasserman-Schultz down to ruin their 2012 dreams.  So I admit I’ve been waffling, but now “I’m In”.  My President’s badass.

by jhwygirl

There’s some discussion going on about that today. Perhaps they legitimately need to consider it:

<D's new logo is actually a target. on Twitpic

Yeah…that’s a pic from Tim Fox, 2008 candidate for Montana Attorney General.

Baucus Tasked to Work Out “Compromise” on Extending Tax Cuts for the Rich


Thanks to Big Swede Ingy, we have the theme for the upcoming battle over the Bush tax cuts. If you need a primer on this fight, you haven’t been paying attention, but I’ll start off this end-of-the-year debate with a nice little video that just put out to put some pressure on President Obama to do the right thing.

We’re gearing up to have an old fashioned political donnybrook over the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. We’ll get to see the right wing’s avarice in full force–as so eloquently snarked by Big Ingy–while they forget all about their opposition to deficit spending when it comes to protecting their wealth and increasing income disparity, and push their greedy self-interest in an all out class warfare battle.

And President Obama, who so adamantly campaigned to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, is on the cusp of caving in, his administration hurling itself to the right to accommodate the latest meme that only a Reagan Democrat in the White House can get the people’s business done.

Yesterday, President Obama tasked his underlings to “work out a compromise:”

“Faced with a tough decision to make on the expiring Bush tax cuts, Congress and the White House did Tuesday what they do best: They passed the buck.

With the resolution to a fight Washington has known was coming for 10 years still hanging in the balance, a small group of legislators will meet with top executive-branch officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, sometime this week — perhaps as early as Wednesday — to hammer out a deal.

The lawmakers slated to attend include Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)…”

Max Baucus??? President Obama didn’t learn anything by handing over his Health Insurance Reform to Baucus, so now he’s going to hand over this issue to another Reagan Democrat millionaire to find a compromise?

Mr. President, your future rests with how you proceed. If you break your campaign promise to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, particularly when your opponent has already signaled his surrender, you do not deserve to have the support of the progressive base that put you into office. If you sign a bill that extends those tax cuts, even temporarily, you have signaled the end of your presidency, as the disaffection of your progressive base will solidify against you, assuring either your defeat in ’12, or the rise of a third party candidate that either will succeed, or that could throw the election to the republican and Sarah Palin.

It almost seems as if you don’t care if the country has a republican president and Congress in 2 years. Maybe you don’t…

by jhwygirl

I know I’ve come across his name recently and I know he’s been back in the state for some time now – but when I read this comment from Left in the West’s Matt Singer, I got pretty pissed.

In a just world, election fraud of the sort perpetrated by Eaton wouldn’t result in termination. It would result in prison time.

This, by the way, is why I didn’t vote for Fred Van Valkenburg for prosecutor (without an alternate option, I left the race blank). When he decides to do his job, he’ll get my vote again.

Amen to that…

The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen got on the story first thing today…but I like Jay’s biased assessment just fine.

See – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my address when I hadn’t. He had no information to support that, either.

I’m but one – but one should be enough to go looking at the rest of the 6,000 or so voter challenges he swore out by affidavit to counties around the state.

My opinion about this has not changed. Jake Eaton committed fraud. He disrupted an election. He cost taxpayers around the state quite a bit of money.

Far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations. Frankly, it should be an insult for any election officer in this state – and for any county attorney of any county that got these fraudulent voter challenges – to know that Jake Eaton is not only back in this state, but reinstated firmly with a working on Montana GOP election activity.

by JC

going rogue

It’s election day, and the thoughts on my mind, one year after Obama and democrats swept to victory and republicans went down in defeat, are thus:

Will the conservative uprising in elections back east amount to anything more than a squabble in the GOP, and progressive democrats will succeed in wresting control of their party from its moderate entrenchment?

Or has the republican party completely lost its ability to govern, and the return of the two party system will revolve around a centrist democrat/republican corporatism vs. a far right conservative ideology?

Alternatively, anybody feeling the love, àla hope and change?

by JC

So little Jakie got all growed up and went to work for an astroturf manufacturing company, Americans for Prosperity, and its “grassroots” front group, Patients United Now (no PUN intended). Been wondering what he’s been doing since he got runned out of town with his tail between his legs for voter suppression last fall.

In Montana, the effort is being coordinated by Jake Eaton, former executive director of the Montana Republican Party…

Eaton said AFP officials and some local people will be on the bus, which will stop for rallies in a dozen towns.

Patients First already had been planning a Montana bus tour to rally opposition to health care reforms, and readjusted its schedule to make a stop in Bozeman to correspond with the president’s visit, Eaton said.

This should be interesting, no?

In other related news, there still isn’t any confirmation of a fundraiser at the Yellowstone Club, or any other details, for that matter.

by Pete Talbot

Shocking news. Is it true? I’m not sure, but it came from a reliable source (my imagination). Here’s why I wrote that headline:

… Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein on Saturday warned legal action may be taken against bloggers and publications that reprint what he calls fraudulent claims. (From an Associated Press story; emphasis mine.)

So come and get me Mr. Van Flein. Let’s test some libel laws. I mean, Gov. Palin has been the butt of jokes since the summer of ’08, when it was announced she would be Sen. John McCain’s running mate. Think Leno, Letterman, SNL, YouTube …

So now she bails on the people of Alaska, because, as she says on her Facebook and Twitter entries, she has a “higher calling.” And what could be a higher calling than carrying the senator’s child to term?

By the way, there’s an extensive article on Palin in Vanity Fair that’s worth the read. (Tip o’ the hat to my buddy Andy in Anchorage. Whoops, I see jhwygirl already linked to it in the comments in her post below, courtesy klemz. Great minds … )

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 Pete Talbot

Missoula cats

Cats bring out the same sort of passion that folks usually reserve for dogs and guns. Just witness the traffic on the unofficial Missoula municipal listserv.

If you’re not a subscriber of this very informative service, go here. And here’s the new ordinance language. (I’ve also copied some of the comments below the fold).

The gist of the ordinance is to cut down on the number of reproducing cats by encouraging spaying and neutering, and requiring a breeder’s license for folks who have more than five felines. This is a good idea and will, I hope, reduce the number of cats that have to be euthanized because they’ve been abandoned, or are feral or just out cruising.

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller tells us the ordinance is headed back to committee. While the cat ordinance may not generate the clever copy that the chicken ordinance did, I imagine we’re in for a number of stories on the subject over the next few weeks. There’s going to be some new language suggested for the dog ordinance, too.

Bankruptcy, Baucus and Rehberg

The 2005 Bankruptcy Bill was bad for consumers and a godsend for the banks. Fortunately, congress could be looking at some reform in that law.

Former Montana resident and current political columnist David Sirota writes about a new bankruptcy bill. It would start in the U.S. House, and it will be telling to hear Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s input, if any, on the bill. Denny actually had a couple decent votes at the end of the last congressional session (‘no’ on the bailout, for example), breaking a string of horrendous votes.

If it makes it through the House, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus will have a significant role as Finance Committee Chairman. He voted for the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill. Let’s hope he does better on a new bill.

And I’m betting that our other senator, Jon Tester (D), will do what’s best for consumers if a bill comes around. Congratulations, by the way, on your Appropriations Committee appointment, Jon.

(It should be noted that Rehberg is back to form. A recent roll call of his votes this session includes: a vote against women [wage discrimination – HR 12] and a vote for derailing bills [H Res 5]. Is it too soon to start looking for his 2010 opponent? I don’t think so.)


I didn’t realize what a hot ticket the inauguration is. It sounds like a helluva party. Hotels are booked solid and DC residents are renting out their spare rooms to the masses.

Montana’s governor and members of congress will all be riding horseback in the parade, along with members of the Crow Nation.

My ticket must have gotten lost in the mail so I’ll probably head down to the Elks Lodge instead, around 7 p.m. Here are some details.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

It’s official – Democrats have made yet another fine addition to the U.S. Senate.

Congratulations are in order, Senator Al Franken, from the Great State of Minnesota!

While one vote short of a supermajority, Democrats now hold 59 seats in the Senate, Republicans 41.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming……

by jhwygirl

Remember this post? Well, it peaked Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller’s interest, and she’s got this interview with failed incumbent PSC candidate Doug Mood up at Missoula Red Tape.

Lost on me, but apparently the “O” in “O shit” – which is “O crap” in some other applications – stands for Obama.

Mood’s obviously proud of it too – I’da put money down on him having removed the stuff by now. And I’da lost.

Don’t let the door hit ya where the sun don’t shine, Doug.

by jhwygirl

…And tell them to Get Out There and Vote.

Today is the runoff election between Jim Kern Martin and Swiftboatin’ Saxby Chambliss.

Democrats could pick up another badly needed seat today in the Senate by electing Martin.

And before you think your call won’t matter, consider that the Secretary of State expects only a 15% turnout.

yeah folks, and I’m guessing Coobs already saw this, in my coffee-deficient haze on my drive to the local java joint, I realized that Al Franken is ahead in Minnesota on his recount, and it was Jim Martin that was running against Chambliss. Yet another case of bad coffee-deficient blogging. Will I ever learn?

And thanks Pete…I saw you were in there trying to save me.

by jhwygirl


by Pete Talbot


Keep Montana Beautiful. It’s one week past the election and time to take those signs down: small yard signs, big signs and really big signs (billboards). I realize that you buy billboards by the month, so Elaine Sollie Herman and the rest of Montana are stuck with those pink-and-black billboards that dot the Montana landscape until Dec. 1. But the rest of you can pull your signs — just save those wickets and that rebar for the next election.


I saw a couple of blogs, one left and one right, calling for a house cleaning of the Montana Republican Party. One comment said that state party chairman Erik Iverson should resign after the party took a drubbing in most of the big-ticket races.

Ain’t gonna happen.

IMHO Iverson did a decent job. Sure, he would have liked a couple of the “Tier B’s” and maybe another PSC seat. Considering the political climate and a fractured Montana Republican Party (Ron Paul, Roger Koopman, et al.) he did well to, basically, hold the Montana House and make significant gains in the Montana Senate.

There was a lot of head scratching over Montana’s mostly Democratic wins in the up-ticket races while handing the Montana Senate a Republican victory. In an interview with the Lee state Bureau, Iverson said Republicans spent $750,000 in targeting 21 legislative races they thought they could win, and “it paid off.”

There were a couple blemishes. One has to wonder just how involved Iverson was in the failed voter suppression ruse. He was also one of the main contributors to the sleazy “Obama will take your guns away” campaign. But that campaign worked and was partially responsible for the 12,000 vote deficit that cost Obama our three electoral votes.

If Iverson wants to stay around Montana, I’ll think we’ll continue to see his hand in state Republican politics.

Speaking of Iverson

It’s rude and juvenile to poke fun at candidates and their supporters when they lose. I’ll make an exception. One big mistake of Iverson’s was his claim that Obama would lose Montana by eight-to-ten points. Try 2.5 points, Erik. I even challenged him to a wager right here at 4&20 but the big scaredy-cat didn’t respond.

Messina on the move

It should be noted that former Missoula resident Jim Messina has an important role with the Obama transition team. Messina went to UM and actually worked on some local campaigns before moving on to the big leagues; first with Sen. Baucus and then with the Obama campaign as chief of staff.

According to Politico, ” … Messina, will serve in the influential role of personnel director … ”

Hey Jim, I’m probably a bit under-qualified for a cabinet post but would take an ambassadorship to, say, Fiji or Tahiti.

(UPDATE: Messina has received an even better job assignment: deputy chief of staff.  It’s the job that Josh had on the TV show West Wing.)

New to me

It’s been around a couple months but came to my attention last week. It’s a local, progressive political blog site called Bunk in the West. It’s main contributors are Binky Griptight (great name) and Megan. Binky has been a frequent commenter at this site. A belated welcome to the ‘spere.

by jhwygirl

The “Left in the West is Back” post has whittled down to a discussion of the failed emergency operations center.

I voted against it, after much going back-and-forth. My reasoning is found in that thread.

Apparently, Gallatin County’s 911 Center, which passed, was asking the taxpayers for $3 million.

Missoula’s was asking taxpayers for $16 million – while the total cost was to be $23 million.

Ultimately, I never saw enough information out there to vote yes and raise taxes “just $27.89 on a $200,000 home.”

The failed emergency center bond has been the topic around the office and several discussions I’ve encountered. What say you?

by jhwygirl

How the kids had the time to track everyone down and write so much great coverage is such a short amount of time, I’ll never know. I couldn’t even get out of bed on Wednesday until well after noon.

Missoula’s Choice 2008 has 3 pages of coverage of post-election day coverage that’s pretty darn good.

Not a reflection of the writing, but I sure hope they have to retract this one.

by Pete Talbot

Dear President-elect Obama,

I’m sorry we couldn’t deliver our three electoral votes to you. You worked hard for them. You visited the state and talked western policy. You set up offices and hired staff and had the best ground game I’ve ever seen. John McCain never set foot in Montana.

You came close — only 12,136 votes separated you from McCain. And compared to the 20-point win that George W. Bush had here four years ago, what you did was miraculous.

I’m still scratching my head, though. In almost every other statewide category, Montana went blue: senator, governor and all four tier b’s (unseating the sole Republican incumbent with a new secretary of state). And two-out-of-three newly-elected PSC commissioners are Democrats.

Another confusing example is Gallatin County. I hoped for better numbers from there. It did, after all, almost go for Sen. Tester in 2006 (Burns won by less than 200 votes). But this year, Obama goes down by over 1400. Perhaps Barack should work on a flattop haircut for 2012. Even Gallatin County voted for you, by a 1609 vote margin.

I don’t believe race was a factor. I think most Montanans who voted for McCain did so because of issues like taxes or defense or the “experience” card or some ingrained conservative Christian belief.

And guns played a role. Even though you came to Montana and assured us you wouldn’t take away our guns, ugly rumors persisted. Next time through, make sure to get that ubiquitous firearm photo op.

We wish you well, Mr. President, and may you bring people together to help solve the numerous problems facing our country. Godspeed.

An unpleasant aside

After saying race wasn’t a factor, well, you still run into this: On my way to Bozeman on election day, I stopped by the Cardwell Store, there between Whitehall and Three Forks, for a cup of coffee and a Slim Jim. Two good-old-boys were at the counter and one said, “I better go vote.” To which the other said, “Yeah, I’d hate to see this election get nigger-rigged.”

I’m not even sure what he meant but I left my merchandise on the counter and walked out. Came up with some really choice things I should have said about five miles down the road.

Now I’m sure that everyone in Cardwell isn’t an ignorant racist pig but I won’t be stopping by again, ever, to find out.

It’s a sad anecdote, but there’s one good thing about it; the guy was old and will soon be dead.

I love Missoula

On a more upbeat note: Missoula delivers. One or two flies in the ointment: that HD-100 race where Willis Curdy is losing by a measly 33 votes to Republican incumbent Bill Nooney (provisional votes still being counted, final results Monday). But that’s democracy; you can choose the anti-education, anti-senior, anti-young person, anti-environment candidate if you want.

Same with SD-7, which has a little bit of Missoula County in it and where veteran lawmaker Paul Clark lost to anti-government zealot Greg Hinkle.

Otherwise it was a sweep: Gutsche over Mood for the PSC, the improbable county commissioner outcome, nine-out-of-ten state reps, and two state senators.

The Emergency Operations Center Bond going down wasn’t really a surprise. With property taxes in the mail and it being a slow economy and all, folks are tightening their belts. In better times, I think it would have passed. It also wasn’t one of the strongest campaigns I’ve seen run in this town.

Ravalli County blues

Is it too harsh to recommend a toll booth at the Ravalli/Missoula County line? Those Bitterrooters should pay extra to come and visit an eclectic town that values education and planning. Maybe we could funnel the toll revenue into preserving Ravalli County open space, while there’s still some left.

I know that there are progressives in Ravalli County but time-and-time again their issues and candidates get hammered.

Both West Fork Blues and Rebecca have excellent comments on the results in the Bitterroot.

Statewide conundrum

Despite Democratic wins in most of the big-ticket races, the Montana House is tied and the senate losses seats (R’s 27-D’s 23). Throw in a Democratic governor and I smell gridlock. But maybe not, lots of talk from candidates of all stripes wanting to “reach across the aisle.” We’ll see.

I, like Jay and others, have to wonder about this split ticket voting. How can our Democratic governor win by an almost two-to-one margin and still have the Montana Senate lose its Democratic majority? Did the Republican Party focus on legislative races because it knew most of the others were hopeless? Any insights?

We’re a two party country

Third parties didn’t fare well. Libertarian Don Eisenmenger received about 7 percent in the OPI race, which I believe was the party’s best showing. Presidential candidate Bob Barr got 0.3 percent. In the U.S. House race, perennial candidate Mike Fellows got 3 percent, and Stan Jones got 2 percent in the governor’s race.

For Constitution Party candidates, Ron Paul got slightly over 2 percent in the presidential race. That party’s best showing was in Missoula County with Kandi Matthew-Jenkins getting a little better than one-third of the votes against Cliff Larson in SD 50 (there was no Republican in that contest). And in the SOS race, Sieglinde Sharbono received around 3.5 percent.

Nadar’s Independent ticket garnered slightly less than 1 percent.

And finally

Who ever thought we’d have a president with a name like Barack Obama? It pales in comparison, though, to the candidate from HD-15 — my favorite name on the ballot — Frosty Boss Calf Ribs. I’ve met some of the Boss Calf Ribs clan up in the Browning area but don’t know Frosty, who was unopposed. Kind of makes our Anglo names like John Smith and Jane Doe seem rather lame. Congratulations, Frosty.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Ken Salazar has his opinion.

Salazar, a Democrat who helped deliver Colorado’s nine electoral votes for Obama, suggested four Western governors: Montana’s Brian Schweitzer or Wyoming’s Dave Freudenthal as interior secretary, New Mexico’s Bill Richardson as secretary of state and Arizona’s Janet Napolitano as attorney general.

What’s yours? Should Brian be part of an Obama Administration? If not, who should repair the damage caused by succeed Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne as Secretary of the Interior?

by jhwygirl

Provisional ballots in HD-100’s race – Bill Nooney v Democrat Willis Curdy could bring the final count in that race (currently 2195 Nooney – 2162 Curdy) into Curdy’s favor. 868 provisional ballots, to be counted on Monday, may hold those votes.

In Laurel, HD-59 “Doc” Woerner is down by 22 votes to Krayton Kerns (Republican). The less-than-1%-spread there means a recount is likely. A bit of trivia here – which you will get out of that link – is that Kerns took his seat only after a recount in 2006.

by Jamee Greer

This nifty little map from the NY Times shows how Montana experienced one of the farthest shifts to the left between the 2004 election and yesterday.

Thanks to Audra for the link

by Rebecca Schmitz

My mom, who lives in Stevensville, called me bright and early (a little too bright and early–I was celebrating downtown until the wee small hours) this morning. She was horrified by the election results in Ravalli County: Bitterrooters voted overwhelmingly for Elaine Sollie Herman, and against the school levy in Hamilton and Legislative Referendum 118, the 6 mill levy. What the hell? Doesn’t anyone value education up there?

Boy, sometimes the Bitterroot makes Gallatin County look almost sane.

by Jay Stevens

As I mentioned late last night on LiTW (no link, ha), the GOP had captured the Senate. Not a big surprise. But what is a big surprise is that it looks like they’ll control the House, too. It’s a surprise because the Republicans had to defend so many seats, and they were working in an election with a large grassroots presence working for a Democratic president.

Right now, it looks like the Senate stands at 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats; and the House at 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats.

That’s right, the math is off. There’s one race that’s still in doubt. HD 63, featuring a good friend, JP Pomnichowski, where returns are not all in. Also there are still absentee ballots that are trickling in that may affect other races, too.

In any case, it looks like the Democratic wave swept up the statewide races, but failed to reach down into the local races.

Thoughts? Updates?

by jhwgirl

This is becoming an election season regular occurrence..but da*n it, I’m lost without that morning cup’o Left.

On another note – What is UP with Gallatin County and the state house race? Still only 78% reporting.

Updated numbers below. Still ain’t calling nothing on the SOS numbers yet…

by jhwygirl

Via Jim Dayton, Chair of the Missoula County Democrats:

Election Night Celebration for Missoula County Democrats

On Tuesday night, Election Night, Missoula County Democrats will be celebrating in a smoke free environment at the Elks Club 112 N. Pattee St.

After all of the “Get Out The Vote” calls have been made and all of the doors have been knocked, everyone is invited to join with other Democrats as the Missoula County Democrats celebrate the end of the election and watch the results come in.

We will be getting together at the Elks after 8:00 pm in a smoke free environment to celebrate. The bar will be offering both drink and beer specials to help us celebrate. And celebrate we should! Hundreds of people, if not thousands, in Missoula County have been volunteering and working hard to bring us change at the local, state, and national levels. We should be having lots to celebrate. Bring your friends, other volunteers, your whole campaign staff and anybody else who would like to join in the excitement.

Elks 112 N Pattee next to the Bon/Macy 8:00 pm Victory Celebration

by Rebecca Schmitz

Pete, yesterday I ran into two of those mythical creatures: undecided voters. I know! I didn’t think they really existed either. How could anyone be that confused?

The first was honestly embarassed. He knew this indecision wasn’t right. He asked when I voted and whom I voted for, nodded when I answered, and said he was definitely going to make up his mind before going to the polls today. The second? Well, she’s bagging the whole election. After annoucing that she’s always voted Democratic but thought it was a “drop in the bucket in Montana”, she said the debates didn’t help. She liked McCain’s performance. However, rather than cast a ballot for the Republican, she’s not going to bother to vote at all.

That is sad. Sad.

Vote. It doesn’t matter for whom. Obviously, I’d prefer people vote for Obama, but let’s face it: no matter what Gary Marbut says about gun ownership, voting is the most important right we have. It’s ridiculous to waste it because of temporary indecision and confusion.

Jump in with both feet. Vote.

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