Archive for the ‘2008 Election’ Category

by Pete Talbot

National Notice

Montana makes the New York Times election news. There’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s a good synopsis of what’s happening here and about Barack Obama’s chances for taking the state. The reporter, Jim Robbins, writes about Montana a lot. I believe he did a number of stories on the Tester/Burns contest in 2006 for the Times. (Sometimes the Times makes you log in to access stories so I’ve also reprinted the piece below the fold.)

Robbins interviewed former Democratic Congressman Pat Williams for the progressive perspective and state Sen. Joe Balyeat (R-Bozeman) for the, eh, conservative perspective. Joe Balyeat! Might as well interview Ghengis Khan if you’re looking for a right-wing nut’s point of view. Of course, Balyeat states that, “his (Obama’s) radical view on guns … ” is the reason Obama will lose in Montana. We’ll see, Joe, we’ll see.

No Dividends

Hope you’re not holding a lot of Lee Enterprises stock and counting on those dividend checks. It’s hard times in the newspaper industry and Lee, which publishes five dailies in Montana, including the Missoulian, has suspended dividends indefinitely.

It has also cut employee benefits and bonuses for executives. All this was dictated by the banks that are restructuring Lee loans.

This is sad news for a newspaper junkie like me and doesn’t bode well for the newspaper reading public. And my heart goes out to those working stiffs at all the papers who are suffering layoffs, reduced benefits and an unsure future.

I also give kudos to the Missoulian for printing the news story about this newspaper chain’s misfortunes. It’s really bad PR and could have been covered up, but wasn’t.

Continue Reading »


by jhwygirl

My disdain for the negative reaction thrust upon those seeking public input on issues before the Board of County Commissioners, by the Board of County Commissioners, is something readers of this blog know well. It’s not something new, and goes back, even, to a post I wrote back nearly 2 years ago over at Left in the West.

More recently, the open pit mining issue facing the Lolo area once again raised my ire. The very real possibility of gravel pits being located in residential areas – unzoned as they may be – and the very real possibility of having multiple pits in your neighborhood (or in your backyard, front yard, side yard) has existed now for more than 2 years, and our County Commissioners have failed to act.

When one was proposed in the Lolo community, our Board of County Commissioners once again failed to act until they were backed into a corner. For months they ignored crowded public meetings and stacks of papers submitted by the neighbors, instead saying that they could rely on DEQ to do its job. Or perhaps I should say that the BCC failed to its job, granted to them through the zoning powers of the Montana Constitution, that allowed them to protect the health safety and welfare of its citizens.

One Lolo resident at the forefront was Michele Landquist, a 35 year resident of Missoula County, advocating for both her and her neighbors, but more importantly, the air and water quality of the neighborhood.

Much of Michele’s campaigning has been out in the rural areas of the county – not just Lolo, but Evaro, Clinton-Bonner, Miller Creek, Orchard Homes, Big Flat, Target Range, Grass Valley, Seeley and Frenchtown. She tells me that she has been well received.

Landquist has been a supporter of trying to find solutions through the Board of County Commissioners to create opportunities for more jobs in Missoula – which is one reason why the Indy’s endorsement of Larry Anderson has perplexed me. Saying we need to have a voice for business on the BCC (as if one doesn’t exist with both Jean Curtiss and Bill Carey.) Please!

Read between the lines there, and the suggestion by the Indy is that Curtiss and Carey are not voice for the business community. Does anyone who read this think that is true? That Jean Curtiss and Bill Carey are anti-business?

In Michele’s own words, she is running because:

I am running to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and everyone is treated with the respect they and their issues deserve. People bring problems to the BCC to solved. I want to work harder and think outside the normal box to find more win-win solutions for ALL the people.

Maybe Landquist isn’t the seasoned poltico that Anderson is, but everyone has to jump into the water somewhere to take that swim. Michele has been on the Lolo Watershed Committee (or whatever that is called), and any landowner with water rights knows that those committees aren’t exactly the most docile things going – Michele will give a fresh face to a good ole’ boys-and-gals club that has been the BCC for wayyyy too long.

I did, in fact, ask Landquist about the reasoning in the Indy, that she wasn’t experienced enough. Here’s what she said:

I would very much like the opportunity to swim. Living out in the county, how many choices/opportunities do I have to get involved politically? The future is now, this is a six year term and it will effect our future. The H20 work I did was with both the Watershed Education Network (WEN) as a Field Coordinator and with the Lolo Watershed Group (LWG) where I served with in a number a capacities the last title was Interim Executive Director. I worked myself through to that position by first being Co-coordinator, Coordinator, Project Manger and finally Interim Executive Director.

That’s not small potatoes in terms of experience now, is it?

County Commissioners are elected to office for 6 years. Ask yourself – do you want more of the same? Have you been happy with what has occurred over, say, the last 5 years? Did Anderson do anything different since he’s been on the BCC for more than a year now?

Do you want to be stuck with more of the same for the next 6 years?

Do you want to know that your voice will be heard when you want to speak?

2008 is looking to be the year of big change. Let’s make 2008 the year that the citizens and communities and neighborhoods of Missoula County get a true voice – and an open ear – on county issues.

Vote Michele Landquist for County Commissioner.

by jhwygirl

Republican candidate for County Commissioner Larry Anderson had a lovely advertisement in Sunday’s Missoulian, listing all of his ‘supporters’ – including Democrat Diane Sands, state house representative for HD-95.

Apparently, though, Diane Sands did not endorse Larry Anderson.

Her comment at this post:

I was surprised to see my name in the Sunday Missoulian endorsement ad for Larry Anderson. I have not been involved in the County Commissioner race on either side and will not for many reasons, including the fact that I am a county employee, and I have my own race to run for re-election to the legislature in HD 95. My name was used without my permission and I called Larry Anderson this morning to object. Larry apologized profusely for the oversight and took total responsibility for the mistake.

The opinions of my partner, Ann Mary Dussault, are her own and should not be considered to automatically be mine. If you are interested my opinion email me instead of this anonymous blogger stuff.

After calling Larry Anderson I immediately called Michele Landquist to correct the record.

I repeat. I have not endorsed any candidate in the race for County Commissioner and I don’t intend to. Period.

Rep. Diane Sands

I guess this is just another Pullin’ a Lewie from another Missoula County Republican, who feels he has to lie and exaggerate his Democratic Party ties to get elected.

Partisanship of the worse kind.

by jhwygirl

Courtesy georgia10, one of my most favorite dKos writers (next to McJoan, of course).

I came across this today, too – The Nation’s Joel Barkin and Christian Smith-Socaris discuss the need for universal registration and voter reform.

I couldn’t agree more. A universal registration procedure, along with a national voter registration database, is one way for both sides to easily put to bed the allegations of voter fraud. That is one discussion that has gone on for way too long.

by jhwygirl


So, when is negative campaigning not negative campaigning? When it’s the truth.

Republican candidate Greg Hinkle, during a candidate forum held in May, said:

I signed a taxpayer pledge not to vote for any increase in taxes, period, unless they’re revenue-neutral. So having said that, I will not vote for any increase in taxes and because of what I explained too and anybody can look at this later, I will not vote for any federal funding of state programs. That’s got to change. We have to wean ourself off of that.”

In seeking better clarity to the issue, the Clark Fork Chronicle sent the candidates further questions, due mainly to questions that arose from Judy Stang’s statement regarding Greg Hinkle when she withdrew from the state senate race in mid-October. When she withdrew from the race, Stang endorsed Hinkle’s opponent, Paul Clark.

The Clark Fork Chronicle sent clarifying questions – you can see them in this article – and Hinkle avoids answering the Chronicle’s question altogether (the Chroncle’s own words: “Greg Hinkle did not respond to the questions,”) instead sending a statement saying that he was taken out of context, and that he would take federal funds for “transportation, etc….,” but then goes on to say that “However, I do believe our state must end our dependence on these funds as much as possible. It’s vital we ensure that we have a local revenue safety net should those funds dry up.”

Hmmm, where exactly is he going to find funds for a local revenue safety net?

Further – let’s keep in mind here that Mineral County looking to go to essentially 90% federal ownership if and when Plum Creek lands are sold into the Legacy Project. So you have a county with a total population of less than 4,000 people, and a land area size of 1,220 square miles, and Hinkle wants the local population to stave off federal funds and find a local revenue safety net?

Like taxes, anyone?

Paul Clark, on the other hand, answered the Chronicle’s questions, showing a depth of knowledge about the fiscal role that the federal government plays in a rural area like SD-7, calling for more local control over natural resource management issues like logging, and citing a desire to look into a potential agreement between state and federal land managers that would put even more money into the state’s school trust fund.

Read it all for yourself.

So who, ultimately, is showing a better knowledge of the issues that face SD-7? Who has spoken consistently and avoided double-talk?

Vote Paul Clark for SD-7. Help avoid the cluster mess that the Montana Legislature experienced in 2007, and let’s move Montana forward.

Hell, why not throw the guy a couple of bucks, too? It’s darn hard to run a senate campaign in such a large senate district. Here’s a link to his ActBlue page.

by jhwygirl

Titled “Even Reliably Red Montana in Play as Election Day Looms,” CNN has moved Montana to toss-up status in its Poll of Poll, giving McCain a slim 1 point lead, 46-45.

Even the most recent poll, conducted by American Research Group October 28-30th, has McCain with a nail-biting 4 point lead in a poll that has a margin of error of 5. In that poll – McCain 49, Obama 45.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd moved Montana, too, to toss-up status on this morning’s Meet the Press. He has even more dire predictions in this column.

Ultimately, in just about any polling map you look at, all leads – whether Obama or McCain – are within the margin of error.

This election is going to come down to whoever has the best ground game/get out the vote.

No rest until Tuesday night, people. Walk, call. Get ‘er done, people – Get ‘Er Done.

by jhwygirl

Well, I made my over to the courthouse this week to vote, and the numbers are crazy amazing – 27,000+ voters have requested absentee ballots. I was there at 5ish, and there was a steady line – old, young.

At 27,000 that is well over 1/3 of the 66,518 registered voters in Missoula County. The clerk who checked me in wasn’t able to tell me how may new voters had registered, but she did point out that it isn’t just young kids. “I’ve registered a large amount of senior citizens – people 60 plus years of age – who have never voted before. They didn’t want their names on some list – but they’re saying that this election is too important to not vote.”

So it isn’t just those crazy young University of Montana students taking advantage of late registration.

Plus – that’s nearly 7,000 voters in just 10 days. Amazing, huh?

Vickie Zeier and those county workers helping out with those extended hours – and the county commissioners that OK’d that extra expenditure – deserve a big THANKS from all voters, for making voting that much more convenient and accessible for people.

I wonder how other counties are doing? Does anyone know if any other counties extended hours? I’m pretty sure we got some Lewis & Clark and Silverbow and Flathead and Gallatin readers.

59 hours until polls close, people…Get Out That Vote!

by Pete Talbot


Please take these thoughtful endorsements from Planned Parenthood’s action committee into consideration when you vote:

… We are days away from an historic election here in Montana and we want to help you participate in that process.

Evaluating a candidate’s voting history, her PPAM (Planned Parenthood Activists of Montana) candidate questionnaire, or interviewing him personally, PPAM has endorsed and/or recommended 64 statewide and local candidates.

Check out our webpage at for the full listing by community.

A special shout-out to the following statewide and judicial candidates who are a top priority for Planned Parenthood:

Steve Bullock, Attorney General

Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Schools

Mike McGrath, Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court

Monica Lindeen, State Auditor

Linda McCulloch, Secretary of State

Kathy Seeley, First Judicial District Court Judge (Helena-area only)

Planned Parenthood is counting on you, the pro-choice voter, to make a difference in these races. Again, visit, share with friends, and vote.”

I’m going to use the ‘S’ word

Socialist. There you go, I said it. And I must be one, too, big time, if that’s what they’re calling Barack Obama. I see Obama’s policies as pretty moderate on: taxes, health care, defense, the economy, the environment …

Takes you back to the good old days of witch hunts and the Red Scare.

Just what are Socialists, anyway? People in Canada, Norway and Australia? Folks in England, France, Germany and our other NATO allies? They seem to be doing as well as anyone these days, economically. Is there something nasty, scary about these governments that I should know about?

A Canadian columnist for The Globe and Mail in Toronto is scratching his head. In a piece entitled, “An election on Socialism, without a Socialist in sight:”

” … Socialism is not defined by state intervention in an economy. All states intervene in the economy, the United States more than most. It busts open foreign markets, fights for global resources (such as oil), controls labour militancy, develops new products (such as the Internet), which it then hands off to business. Above all, its military spending fuels its economy, and has for generations. Bank bailouts fit like a hand in a glove.”

Barack Obama is not a Socialist, he just happens to have different policies than Bush/McCain.

Knock it off

Everybody. Please.

Most Montana campaigns start off pretty tame, with the candidates explaining why people should vote for them. But as we get closer to election day, the gloves come off and folks get nasty. Witness today’s flurry of accusations and counter charges:

Attorney general candidate Tim Fox being smeared by the Montana Democratic Party (granted, Fox’s opponent, Steve Bullock, got smeared earlier by the Republicans). Then there are the radio attack ads against Linda McCulloch, Democratic candidate for secretary of state. And, of course, supporters of Republican OPI candidate Elaine Sollie Herman and the campaign’s “professional Indian” and “young Indian” comments, directed at Democratic candidate Denise Juneau.

Who approves these ads and innuendo, anyway? Erik Iverson, Montana Republican Party Chairman; Dennis MacDonald, the Montana Democratic Party Chairman; someone higher up the food chain; or some boneheaded, overpaid, beltway consultant?

Montanans deserve better. It makes me want to puke slugs.

by jhwygirl

For those of you who don’t live in town and haven’t seen the recent Missoula Independent, they’ve put out their election picks for 2008.

Few surprises in there – but there is one that absolutely perplexes me (and I’ll leave it at that) – and it looks like I’m not the only one…check the comments out on the Indy’s piece…

by jhwygirl

So I figure I’m doing at least that by posting this here.

Forwarded to me by one of Missoula’s finest…..Thanks!

by jhwygirl

I just got polled by Rasumussen. I have a land line, but I use is almost exclusively for internet. Anyone who knows me that needs to reach me uses my cell phone. If that land line is ringing, I can darn well bet it’s someone I don’t know. That being said, the thing has been ringing all afternoon. I finally gave in this evening.

It was an automated call (“if yes, press 1, if no, press 2”) and was primarily for determining who I was voting for in the gubernatorial race (Schweitzer) and who I was voting for in the presidential race (Obama). It also wanted to know my favorability ratings for each of those candidates. Oddly, it didn’t ask what I thought of Brown, but it did ask about McCain (I gave him a “less favorable,” not the “unfavorable” rating. I gave Schweitzer the “good” and not the “excellent” grade.)

Anyways – if you are like me and don’t usually answer the phone, answer it. It could be Rasmussen calling.

Sorry. I don’t have caller ID.

by jhwygirl

When they’re Sarah Palin and the voters are your supporters.

Now, Ashville North Carolina isn’t exactly redneck country…which might explain the (not) obvious excitement over a live performance of Redneck Woman by country star Gretchen Wilson.

by Pete Talbot

It’s the water

For years, I’ve suspected there was something in Ravalli County water. Those wacky Bitterrooters have been voting down school bonds, opposing planning and zoning, and muttering death threats against those who believe ATV’s shouldn’t roam everywhere on God’s green earth.

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Dennis Unsworth, confirms the funky water. He talked about the flurry of political complaints being filed at his office, half of them from Ravalli County:

“I don’t know if there’s something in the water here … ” he said, while visiting the county and adding that because of explosive growth in the valley, and the age-old Montana battle between private property rights and planning, complaints are flying.

The item on the ballot igniting this furor is the potential repeal of the county’s growth policy.

I thought that maybe they’d cleaned up the water after seeing a couple of sensible commissioners elected in the last go-around and then advancing a reasonable plan to mitigate growth. Guess I was wrong.


Are there really people out there who don’t know who they’re voting for, yet, for President? Maybe you’ve seen them interviewed on the TV news shows, and like me, shake your head in amazement.

Writer David Sedaris wonders about them, too, in this week’s New Yorker:

“I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

The Gazette takes a stand

Jay over at LiTW has already noted the Billings Gazette editorial endorsing Obama. It got me wondering what the other newspapers in the state were doing, so I Googled them — except for Kalispell’s Daily Interlake, because I just don’t care. Helena did some statewide races. The Great Falls Tribune “went out on a limb” and endorsed Baucus and Rehberg. Otherwise, I can’t find a thing. I know the Missoulian quit doing endorsements nearly a decade ago and maybe the other papers are waiting until this Sunday or something.

The Missoula Independent will be endorsing in this Thursday’s edition but not the presidential race. Indy editor Skylar Browning explained that the paper likes to focus on statewide races, ballot initiatives, PSC, etc.

Any endorsements in the Montana press that you, faithful readers, are aware of? Please let me know. BTW, the Associated Press has a list, updated regularly, of what the national papers have been doing endorsement-wise.

(UPDATE: As of Tuesday, October 28, according to Editor and Publisher, 222 newspapers have endorsed Obama and 93 newspapers have endorsed McCain. Wow. No Ron Paul, Bob Barr or Ralph Nader endorsements that I could find.)

(UPDATE #2: Great Falls Tribune Managing Editor Gary Moseman called me back. He said the Trib won’t be endorsing in the presidential race but has been actively endorsing in statewide and local races. He said that the paper quit endorsing presidential candidates in 2000, mainly because it had little influence on how people voted but pissed off (I’m paraphrasing here) a lot of people. He added that the Trib only endorses in races where reporters and editors can interview the candidates.)

Via Missoula’s Choice 2008, the University of Montana School of Journalism online publication covering both local and statewide candidates.

by Will Melton

Michele Landquist is running for Missoula County commissioner because she has “witnessed citizens walking away after participating in the public process feeling distraught, as though their concerns, opinions and ideas were being heard by not listened to.”

She says that she will listen to the people of the county and feels that her experiences as a resident of Lolo, rather than Missoula, make her better attuned to the problems facing rural Montanans. She says her experiences as a farmer and her work on watershed and land-use planning issues will be a beneficial addition to the commission.

Her victory in the Democratic primary over much better-known candidate Dennis Daneke by 42 votes caught many political observers by surprise.

Landquist rejects the notion that her victory was a surprise and says she won by using her standing and popularity in Lolo and other rural areas along with a strong grassroots campaign to springboard her to victory.

Landquist said that her main priority is creating more affordable housing and that the key is to create more jobs that pay better.

In order to create more of these jobs, Landquist would create tax incentives for companies that pay more than the living wage and offer health care and other benefits.

Landuqist said now is not the time for the county to be asking for more bonds for anything, including the new 911 call center, a $16 million issue that is on the November ballot. While she doesn’t oppose the center, she doesn’t think taxpayers should have to pay more for it. When asked how she would pay for the center, she said that without delving into county budgets it’s difficult to say how to come up with the money.

Landquist also supports county-wide recycling, increased open space, improvements to watershed management and hiring an information officer for the county.

Landquist fits in a Schweitzer-esque mold of a rural famer with populist tendencies. Despite her insistence that she isn’t a political nobody, she knows how to play the outsider, populist card: “I don’t think you should try to be this well-known name out there to be a public servant and that you shouldn’t need to have some haughty-taughty education to serve the people.”

Via Missoula’s Choice 2008, the University of Montana School of Journalism online publication covering both local and statewide candidates.

by Collin Behan

It had been almost 20 years since Larry Anderson had lived in Missoula when he passed through on a road trip to visit in-laws in Butte. He stopped to visit an old college friend, who encouraged him to apply for a job as Missoula’s city administrator. That was in 1986 and the friend was the recently elected mayor of Missoula, Bob Lovegrove.

“I knew absolutely nothing about local government, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Anderson said. He got that job, served as city administrator for four years and has remained close to Missoula and local government ever since.

Anderson is now running for reelection after being appointed a Missoula County Commissioner in 2007. He was born in Omaha, Neb., and came to the University of Montana in 1963. After graduating with a degree in forestry and range management, Anderson entered the Army and served as an executive officer of an artillery unit in Vietnam. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University in 1975.

In 1991, Anderson and his wife Linda, his college sweetheart, opened the Eastgate Rental and Party Center. They sold the company 11 years later and Anderson went to work as a Field Representative for former Sen. Conrad Burns and, later, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

County Commissioner Barbara Evens retired in 2007 after nearly 30 years as a county commissioner and Anderson was named to replace her for the final year of her term. Anderson said he has tried to maintain Evans’ policy of allowing people to drop in to visit with commissioners.

“Her motto, and I think it’s one that I carry on, was ‘Serve all the people,’” Anderson said.

Evans was well respected by the people of Missoula and replacing her was difficult, Anderson said. At the same time, Anderson thinks he brought a fresh perspective to the commissioner’s office as a former business owner and fiscal conservative. He was familiar with the people and workings of local government from his time as city administrator and having serving one term as a Missoula city councilman for Ward 4 in 1995.

As the only Republican on the board of commissioners, Anderson said he brings a crucial balance of perspectives to the county. His experience in city, county and federal government and business can help push Missoula through the current rough economic times, Anderson said.

If elected, he would like to continue working with outlying towns like Seeley Lake, Frenchtown and Bonner on their community plans.

“I think the majority of people (in those towns) want to see those communities maintain a personality and the uniqueness that they have,” Anderson said. Commissioners respond to a diverse range of needs, goals and opinions. The county’s constituents range from people living on country roads around Seeley Lake to students living in apartments in downtown Missoula to seniors in rapidly growing towns like Lolo or Frenchtown.

Land use planning and transportation are of key importance to the future of the county and his own plans for the commissioner’s office, Anderson said. Over a billion dollars in funding requests have been made for transportation projects in the next 20 years. Less than $480 million in federal and county funding is projected during that time, he said.

“So, as an elected official I’m going to have to try to find ways to compromise and get people to set aside their personal feelings and look at the larger picture,” he said.

posted by jhwygirl

Note: I supported Michele Landquist in the primary, and I will cast my ballot for her in the general. I believe our Board of County Commissioners needs change, and someone who will question the establishment. Michele Landquist will do that. Michele has billed herself as the non-partisan candidate. I believe her when she says that, and as an affirmation of that, she has spoken to issues, not her party affiliation.

From Michele Landquist:

I have just finished reading some of the recent 4&20 blogs about my race for the BCC. All I can say is I have been very humbled by the amount of support I have. It seems like everywhere I go folks are telling me that they voted for me. Plenty of people continue to email and telephone me on particular issues of concern to them to see where I stand on issues that are important to them and then afterwards they tell me I have their support.

I have also seen Larry’s supporter list and I am very concerned because of the amount of support he has from some developers and some large land owners (who are most likely protecting their own self-serving-interests). This is only natural of course because Larry boasts that he supports private property rights.

I support private property rights too but I do not subscribe to the always mentioned highest and best use philosophy. We all have an obligation to be respectful neighbors and most especially we have the responsibility to be good stewards of this earth and in essence we are only on this planet a very short period of time. In short it is called “land ethics” and it has been in short supply for too long in Western Montana. Therefore, I believe it is imperative to know and understand the difference between our Montana constitutional rights of “clean and healthy environment” and “reasonable use” verses “highest and best use” so that our decisions will stand the test of time-leaving us with clean air, clean and abundant water, local agriculture opportunities and decent employment options-not just for the here and now but for many future generations.

by jhwygirl

Nifty little tool.

by jhwygirl

Not where you want to be in the last days of a presidential campaign.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.


by Pete Talbot

Check out this superbly produced video on voter suppression here in Missoula. Hat tip to Missoula Red Tape.

Friday Funny

by jhwygirl

Seriously? This is just plain funny.

OK….this one, as Lizard said, is ALSO just plain funny….

by Pete Talbot

I hate polls

“Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and polling authority, said variation between polls occurs, in part, because pollsters interview random samples of people.”

That quote comes from an Associated Press story and poll that has McCain and Obama basically tied. But talk about “random,” the story continues with these stats:

Obama and McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll, conducted by Republican strategist Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama up by 9 percentage points, while a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center had Obama leading by 14. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, among the broader category of people registered to vote, found Obama ahead by 10 points.

That’s a 14 point spread. I think I’ll wait for Jimmy the Greek to give odds before really believing any of the numbers I’ve seen.

UPDATE: Latest MSU-Billings poll has Obama at 44% and McCain at 40% IN MONTANA! There’s a 5% margin of error, but still … maybe I’ll forego my cynicism about polls for the evening.

Bait and switch

The Missoula Independent had an interesting piece on the Ravalli Republic. Apparently, Ravalli County Democrats contracted with the paper to put those little sticky ads on the Republic that you see from time-to-time on the front page of many newspapers. These pro-Democrat ads riled up a herd of Ravalli County Republicans, who threatened to cancel their subscriptions. The Republic then moved the stickers to the inside of the paper. The publisher claimed this wasn’t done to placate Republicans but because of a corporate rule that says political ads can’t appear on front pages. Funny thing is, I remember getting my daily dead-tree edition delivered to me in a plastic bag with “Vote for Conrad Burns” printed on it about two days before the 2006 election. So, bags are OK but stickers aren’t?

Here’s hoping nice guys finish last

I’ve heard there are a few “Democrats” out there pushing County Commissioner Larry Anderson’s election bid. The Republican incumbent is running against Michele Landquist for the six-year position. Incumbent is a little misleading, though, as Anderson wasn’t elected to the seat but anointed by retiring Republican Commissioner Barbara Evans.

These folks are endorsing Larry for different reasons but the recurrent theme is, “he’s a nice guy.” That may well be but I want more than a “nice guy” as our third commissioner. I want someone who will be innovative and progressive. Considering Larry served on the staffs of both Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Conrad Burns, I’m guessing he’s neither. And I remember his tenure on city council as being a conservative obstructionist, to say the least.


by jhwygirl

Certainly regular readers will remember my outrage here last year regarding the bison slaughter in Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, all in the the name of managing brucellosis. There are 9 previous posts, which you can get to by simply putting “brucellosis” in the little nifty search we’ve got over there on the right.

An environmental impact statement (EIS) – the highest level of NEPA review – was issued by the USFS in July by Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton sanctioning, for 20 more years, elk feedgrounds within said National Forest. At the time, the Good Governor Schweitzer fired off a letter criticizing the decision, saying “Montana had done everything in its power to prevent the transmission of brucellosis to its cattle herd. Meanwhile, USDA has insisted upon application of antiquated herd-to-herd regulations for disease transmission in cattle that have nothing to do with transmission from wildlife. As a result, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming at best continue to experience a yo-yo effect with respect to brucellosis status. At worst, the net effect is a permanent loss of status.”

There were, apparently, two appeals to Hamilton’s decision – and in a news brief from Jackson Hole Radio’s Tom Ninnemann gives us the news that Schweitzer was one of the appellants to the EIS. From October 21st:

The Forest Service announced Friday its decision to uphold authorization of National Forest Land to be used for winter elk management activities by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. Regional Forester Harv Forsgren upheld the decision made by Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor, after reviewing two appeals received on the issue. Among those speaking out against the activities was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Forest Service decision is to issue a 20 year special use authorization at five of the seven locations. The decision did not include two of the feedground areas because further information is required. Supplemental feeding of elk has been conducted in northwestern Wyoming since the early 1900s.

Finally, some good common sense is prevailing in the issue.

Schweitzer addressed the issue during the Butte gubernatorial debate last month, with what the Montana Standard described as part of some spirited verbal jollys. (It was a good debate, btw – and the Montana Standards has the debate broken down to 3 audio files, the first which includes Brown’s answer to the brucellosis question, and the second, which includes Schweitzer’s thorough and knowledgeable answer.)

While Brown took to criticizing Schweitzer for his support of the split-state status, Schweizer “jollied” back that he understood “science” and that the science supports evidence that brucellosis is coming from elk, not bison, and that having the entire state’s cattle industry suffer because of it wasn’t reasonable. He went on to say that the previously approved joint-agency bison management plan was outdated given the science and current evidence.

Bravo, Governor Schweitzer.

Brown kinda stood there, obviously uneducated beyond talking points which he fumbled through (“hmmm, let’s see, where is it?” – which drew some laughter – “oh – yes, ‘segregate and slaughter’ policy.”) Even more perplexing is that after fumbling through his criticism of the “segregate and slaughter” comment, he went on to champion the two Department of Livestock members who quit because of their support of the “segregate and slaughter” policy. I mean – does Brown even understand what is going on? All it takes is some newspapers…..perhaps the use of any one of the state’s great newspaper’s search engines?

Schweitzer’s work on this issue began when he first took office 4 years ago – and the split-state status has taken hold with the federal government, who are crafting a new plan which will recognize that brucellosis is found in and around the park, and allow cattle ranchers outside of the “hot zone” to be spared the additional expenses of testing and vaccination. This link, here, will take you to the Department of Livestock’s webpage on the new Draft Brucellosis Action Plan. Comment period, btw, has been extended to November 1st, due to high public interest.

In other developments, the state is forming a 7-member brucellosis task force, which is to include 5 citizens, including two ranchers and one rancher/outfitter, along with 2 “wildlife enthusiast, sportsman or conservationists.”

I give the Governor a big kudos for keeping this issue moving along since the massive slaughter and the discovery of the state’s 2nd case of brucellosis, which resulted in the loss of our brucellosis-free classification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s openly been critical of a key cause to brucellosis – Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds. That took some political mustering. All in all, there’s been a tremendous amount of work done since June….and hopefully it will have an impact this upcoming winter.

I want to mention here that The Missoula Independent’s Patrick Klemz did a fine piece on the brucellosis issue back in September, even daring to put the picture of an elk on the cover, along with the word “brucellosis” – something few media outlets, whether radio, television or print, have been pretty darn shy about doing. It stands as another fine example of The Indy’s fine, thorough and, well, independent report style.

by Pete Talbot

Stang out

Judy Stang (S.D. 7) is ending her write-in bid and throwing her support behind the Democratic candidate, Paul Clark. This is good news. Ms. Stang lost a tight primary race to Mr. Clark and then filed as a write in. She has since withdrawn her write-in campaign, which had the potential to peel away votes from Clark and help elect far-right Republican Greg Hinkle. Thanks, Judy. (Curse you, jhwygirl, you scooped me by 18 minutes.)

Pink eye

Driving across the state last weekend, I was assaulted, time-after-time, by huge, pink apparitions. Turned out they were Elaine Sollie Herman (Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction) billboards. I’ve got to admit, they’re eye catching (in a Mary Kay sort of way) and she has a lot of them up. I’m not sure it will be enough to defeat Democrat Denise Juneau in this three-way race. Juneau has campaigned hard across the state and done well at fund raising, too.

Hightower in Helena

If you’ve never seen author, radio personailty and the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the flesh, it would be worth your while to head over to the Capital City this Friday evening. Jim Hightower (billed on his website as “America’s #1 Populist”) will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. on October 24 in the Oriental Room at the Great Northern Hotel (which is a little bit north of Last Chance Gulch). I saw him twice in Missoula in the 1990’s. He’s witty and thoughtful, and will speak to “what can be done to put things right in America after eight years of Bush.” The event is sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Montana and it will cost you $20 at the door.

by jhwygirl

Judy Stang, a write-in candidate for SD-7 (Senator Jim Elliott’s termed-out seat) has withdrawn from the race, endorsing her Democratic opponent Paul Clark along the way.

SD-7 encompasses parts of Sanders, Missoula and most of Mineral County. HD-13 is located within Sanders County.

(Senator Jim Elliott is now a candidate for HD-13, and a mighty fine one at that. I’m hoping we get to keep Jim around.)

Here is Judy Stang’s statement:

After a considerable amount of thought I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for election to the Montana Senate and endorse Paul Clark for Senate District 7. I would like to thank the people and organizations that supported me over the last few months.

I am endorsing Paul Clark because his Republican opponent, Greg Hinkle has publicly announced that Montana should not accept any Federal funding. That seems too extreme to me and will cost Mineral, Missoula , and Sanders County too many jobs. Working in politics for 18 years I have seen the benefits of Federal funding and could not imagine local and state governments, schools and rural health care functioning without this funding.

Just in Mineral County the schools rely on Federal funding for many of their programs. The county has done numerous low-income housing projects that have allowed folks on fixed or low incomes to have homeownership, plus a better quality of housing. The revenues from highway construction have a huge impact on our local economy, and create good paying jobs for Montanans. Even counties have numerous services that have monies from the federal government that trickles down to our level.

My main reasons for running was to see this District represented in a non-partisan way. We need more candidates in politics that remember to represent the constituents of their districts and not become party clones. The last legislature was an indication of what happens when representatives do not have the courage to go outside of their party leaders issues and really give and take on solutions. It is going to take a lot of non-partisan work to bring this state around.

After talking with Paul, I am convinced that he will be a strong advocate for Mineral, Sanders, and the Frenchtown area of Missoula Counties. In fact, after numerous debates and questionnaires from newspapers, I have noticed our solutions to the issues are very similar. He has promised to work across ideological lines to find solutions to the problems important to all Montanans and to keep in touch with counties, schools, hospitals and local constituents during the legislative session. Paul will work hard to bring better paying jobs to rural Montana , support responsible development and work to increase access to affordable health care.

by jhwygirl

Via dKos, and done by Research 2000.

McCain’s lost another point since the last Montana polling information, from NewWest just 10 days ago. It’s now McCain 49, Obama 45. Kos is now painting Montana blue.

Schweitzer is having a pleasant time this election season – Schweitzer 57, Brown 40. His approval rating sure looks great too – While Dems have him at 62/33, Republicans put the Good Guv’s approval at 52/41. Even Independents are loving’ the Good Gov – Brian gets a 66/31 approval with them.

Brown’s approval ratings are pretty dismal – overall he’s got a 41% approval 31% disapproval…women don’t seem to take a liking to him either – there he musters a 38, and even Independents give Brown a 37. Men give Brown a little better grade – a 44%.


Rehberg sure isn’t skating by…..most recent polling has Rehberg polling at 52%, and John Driscoll with 38%.

And Driscoll isn’t even really campaigning! He’s not raised any funds, and he’s not traveling to do any campaigning. The only campaigning he’s doing is that travel which he had already planned. I haven’t heard – the guy lives in Helena – if he’s even door knockin’ there.

Man, I don’t know, but I’m thinking that’s gotta hurt.

Anyways, there you go – some numbers to mull over. But now is not the time to get complacent – write those letters to the editor, head down to the Obama campaign and make a few calls, knock a few doors…or, better yet, contact any of the local state races (links in this post) and do some door knocking for them.

Weather’s great – and it gives you a chance to meet some neighbors.

by jhwygirl

Ari Berman of The Nation writes on the Montana GOP voter suppression scandal, in a piece titled GOP Busted for Voter Suppression.

Montana blogger Jay Stevens (“of the great blog Left in the West“) gets a mention, along with a quote.


Meanwhile, in other developments….

Criminal charges may be pending for the Montana GOP and Jack Eaton – a complaint has been filed, over the major flaw of the use of the word “apartment” instead of “unit” – Wow, huh?

Gotta wonder how many people in a college town like Missoula might be in that same boat.

Gotta wonder how many people didn’t check that list of challenged voters because they’ve lived in the same place for years?

Apparently Van Valkenberg is agreeing that there is merit in the criminal complaint.

Ha. I said that from the beginning.

So while the newspapers whither away on this story folks – Missoulian reporter Chelsie Moy did do a blogpost, though – remember this folks: This is the Montana Republican Party. Montana GOP and its chairman, Erik Iverson have stood silent in taking ownership of this attempt to suppress Montana citizens from legitimately voting. They threw courthouses around the state into chaos when they delivered more than 6,000 illegal challenges – all while election officers were busy preparing for what is expected to be a record turnout election. They cost taxpayers in the process. They disrupted the election process and they were proud and defensive while doing so.

Vote accordingly, folks.

by problembear

anne opened her mail today after a long shift as an RN at St. Patrick’s hospital. one of the envelopes contained in the slew of junk mail looked a little ominous. in the right hand corner of the envelope were the words “account information enclosed.”  anne placed the mail on the dining room table and let her little dog out. she lives alone with her small terrier/poodle cross named Izzie who anne rescued from the dog pound 7 years ago. she lives very modestly in a nice apartment with a view of the clark fork river. her life is busy. she volunteers at the food bank on her days off and her friends keep her busy with church activities and outdoor hiking on weekends. a very used book by Kim Williams entitled Book Of Uncommon Sense lies prominently on the cluttered coffee table in front of her comfy recliner.

it was a couple of hours later when anne finally opened her mail and read the fine print contained in the envelope. her JC Penney card which she used for modest clothing and linen purchases had a current balance of $653.46. anne always paid her bill early or on time and she always paid at least triple the minimum. her current credit limit is $1500.00. the first announcement in the summary of changes stated that anne’s current rate of 12% will immediately be increased to a new standard rate of 22.85%. the credit card company gave no reason for the change. the summary of changes had other surprises for anne like shortening the time by which she must pay the minimum payment to avoid a late payment fee from 30 to 23 days. also, interest will be compounded on a daily rather than monthly basis.

anne felt abused as a customer of JC Penney and she felt abused as an american worker who pays her bills on time and expects to be treated fairly. she will vote for obama in november because she is tired of being taken advantage of by large corporations like GE Capital who sent her this notice today because they have just purchased all the credit card accounts from JC Penney Corp. anne is tired of hearing about the corruption and predatory lending practices of  banks and credit card companies like GE Capital. she hopes that change in washington will also include reining in the predatory lending practices that have been encouraged to flourish under the Bush administration. anne feels that obama knows that what this company is doing to her is wrong and she is certain she can trust him to bring some integrity back to business practices in america again. meanwhile, anne will take some money out of savings and work some overtime to pay the card off over the next few months and she is certain she will never set foot in JC Penney’s again. i believe her and if you have ever seen the determined look that a seasoned RN can muster you would believe her too. after all, anne reminds me, she works in a cancer ward. Mr. Bush himself would wither under the look of anne’s eyes peering at him over her reading glasses tonight. and i would not recommend anyone ever giving anne a conservative right wing lecture on allowing the credit industry to remain unregulated.

with notices like these going out to 25 million JC Penney card holders and the accompanying anger sure to grow from this bold move, i do not envy the chances for mccain/palin in november.

obama votes on predatory lending. obama’s plan to address predatory lending.

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