Archive for the ‘Jim Hunt’ Category

by jhwygirl

That, from Democratic primary candidate Melinda Gopher:

There is one intractable fact and I will hammer this home: Dennis McDonald is not electable. I am hearing it from Democrat, Republican and undecided voters alike. His advancement in the June primary will most assuredly guarantee another Rehberg win in the fall. A.J. Otjen is not convincing as a credible Republican challenger, she has not put the effort into it. Mark French is on the extreme right fringe. At the same time, long time Republican party veterans already concede this seat will fall in the Democratic aisle.

Melinda Gopher has some guts. She titled her post “Melinda Gets Tough with Montana,” and truly, she is saying what plenty of people have been pondering…but none have put in print.

(I don’t know that I’d write off A.J. Otjen as unconvincing or not credible, but I believe Gopher is being kind describing Mark French as being “on the extreme right fringe”)

Her most recent blog post, published yesterday morning, takes Dennis McDonald (and others) to task for a number of things…but mainly she “gets tough” with McDonald on a number of issues, including his AFL-CIO endorsements, his associations with mobster “Jimmy the Weasel”, and his handling of the 2008 congressional race (as head of the Montana Democratic Party).

While she somewhat unfairly blames the lack of support for Jim Hunt on McDonald’s leadership (Hunt lost the Democratic congressional primary in 2008, and the state party wouldn’t help a candidate until after they win the primary), she does allude to him having made decisions in the past that brought him to an advantage in this year’s race:

“I have another question,” she asks. “Did Mr. McDonald manipulate the state party strategy in 2008 to position himself for this race? I would have to say, based on his statements on the campaign trail; yes he did. As he likes to say; “this office is the only statewide race we (Democrats) did not win, so I wanted to come back and finish the job myself.””

Gopher doesn’t stop there – she then goes on to highlight Montana’s hugest disappointment – Representative Dennis Rehberg, Montana’s 10-year congressional do-nothing:

We cannot deny history, this is a pivotal race on the national stage. This race is where the tire meets the road for the Democratic electoral strategy in 2012. It is where–for too long; the person occupying the seat of this nation’s largest geographic district has been literally “drunk at the helm.” This is why Montana is at the bottom in disposable income, we cannot afford to educate our children, we cannot retain those fortunate to receive an education. We have a disjointed leadership in D.C., while passing three bills in his entire nine years–as Tyler Gernant points out—all to name federal buildings: Rehberg is the 12th wealthiest member of the U.S. House. His response to largely his own failure to lead, disguised as faux right wing earmark rage, just stated this past week: we are all on the Titanic.

Her piece is lengthy, so really – go read it. Melinda is a pretty straightforward speaker who I’ve yet to see mince words. Clearly, she does the same with her writing.

by jhwygirl

As the Helena Independent Republic put it, Montanans won a key court victory this week as the judge sided with term-limited state Auditor John Morrison’s directive that disallowed the use of discretionary clauses in health and disability policies.

Discretionary clauses allow the insurer to deny claims merely by proving a physician or other medical expert to deny the claim, by stating that the denial is reasonable.

He who has the most money wins.

Jim Hunt, Democratic primary challenger to John Driscoll in the democrats failed race for Dennis Rehberg’s House of Representative seat, argued the case for the state.

Five years ago, Morrison had decided to prohibit discretionary clauses in health policies. All insurers but Standard Insurance Co. of Portland Oregon decided to comply.

While the clause now still exists in may policies that have not been reissued, Judge Honzel’s ruling effectively removes the applicability of any discretionary clause still in place.

Good Stuff for Montana.

by Pete Talbot

Here’s a new election strategy: don’t campaign. It worked for John Driscoll, who raised no money and did no campaigning and beat odds-on favorite Jim Hunt in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House.

Then there’s the Bob Kelleher win in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Granted, Kelleher did some campaigning (I saw a couple newspaper ads) but still, that had to send shock waves through the Montana Republican establishment. Bob Kelleher! He has run for almost every elected office under almost every conceivable party banner. And check out those eyebrows.

Closer to home, the Missoula County Commissioner race isn’t over yet. Dennis Daneke is ahead by four votes. He campaigned hard. The third place finisher, Jeff Patterson, also campaigned. But I saw nothing from the second place finisher, Michele Landquist — and she could be the winner after the final canvass next Tuesday.

You can go here for Missoula County results and here for the statewide totals.

A couple of other surprises, for me anyway: I thought Mike Wheat would take the attorney general Democratic primary. But Steve Bullock won it with around 9000 more votes, statewide.

In Senate District 7, Democratic candidate Paul Clark went to bed trailing Judy Stang. In the morning, though, he was up by 166 votes and will face Greg Hinkle in the general.

Some folks were surprised that Willis Curdy, a high school teacher and Democratic candidate in House District 100, lost to Gary Brown. Brown did a serious get-out-the-vote effort in the final days of the campaign to win 722-654.

Not as surprising was Denise Juneau’s strong finish. She beat her closest rival, Holly Raser, in Raser’s home county of Missoula (by only 140 votes, but still … ). Statewide Juneau received 18,130 more votes than Raser.

The Republicans stayed away in droves. My unofficial statewide count is 181,906 Democrats casting ballots and 95,252 Republicans.

Did Republicans cross over to vote in the Democratic primary? Local blogger Andy Hammond, at Rush Limbaugh’s request, was urging Republicans to do just that and to vote to keep Hillary Clinton running as long as possible so the the Democratic Party would stay splintered and in disarray. Since Barack Obama beat Clinton 102,544 to 75,053 statewide (16,423 to 8084 in Missoula County), I guess that strategy didn’t work.

by Pete Talbot

I’m pissed

Anybody else out there NOT get tickets to Clinton and Obama in Butte? I went online at 9 a.m. this morning with two laptops and never did get through. I had better luck scoring tickets to the Rolling Stones when they played Missoula.

I missed my chance to get tickets to the Mansfield-Metcalf dinner when I learned last month that the event had already sold out. (Note to Democratic Party headquarters in Helena: the one “save-the-date” email I received in January isn’t the best way to market an event to folks like me.)

So I was left with the only other option available — go online and try to get bleacher tickets. They were sold out by 9:30 9:04 9:40 9:15 a.m. I have to wonder if tickets are going to start showing up on eBay, and for how much.

I’ve only missed one Mansfield-Metcalf dinner in the last decade. Back when the Democrats were in the minority in both the state house and senate, and we had a Republican governor, attendance at this yearly Democratic event could be pretty paltry. I know “it’s a new day” in Montana but please don’t forget regular folks who supported the party during the lean times. Give us a better than average shot at the big-time gigs when they come around.

Now I know how rank-and-file Republicans must have felt when they were excluded from the caucuses last month.

It appears that a few other bloggers had similar online experiences. Maybe I should take Shane’s advice, though, and not blog when I’m angry.

Max gets jobs for Montanans Virginians

I’ll probably never work in this town again, at least in political TV production, but I can’t keep quiet any longer.

Sen. Baucus rolled out his first radio and TV spots last week, spending some of his $9 million war chest. According to Lee State Bureau’s Chuck Johnson:

“The television spots, produced by GMMB Creative, a Virginia firm, will run for several weeks.”

I saw one of the spots and it wasn’t bad. The sort of cookie-cutter commercials that DC beltway consulting firms are known for, with a standard feel good message and high production values.

Thing is, I know at least four producer/directors in Montana that could have done the same quality commercial, and for less money.

And one has to wonder who purchased the TV time for the spots, another Virginia media firm? The commissions generated for that firm would have kept a Montana advertising agency afloat for at least a year.

(Note to Gov. Schweitzer: I received a fund raising call for your campaign from a telemarketer in California. Surely there’s a firm in Montana that can do that.)

And I’m going to stay on top of this. The next candidate who says they’re for jobs for Montanans and then spends their money on out-of-state production companies, ad agencies, printers, pollsters, etc., will receive some special attention.

Happy Birthday, Congressman

On a more upbeat note, Pat Williams’ 70th birthday bash on Sunday was quite the gala affair. One might consider it a warm up to next month’s Mansfield-Metcalf dinner in Butte. Granted, Barack and Hillary weren’t there, but they should have been because every almost every Democratic leader in Missoula was in attendance, and a lot of out-of-town Democrats, too. (Note to presidential campaign coordinators: there are more registered Democrats in Missoula County than any other county in the state.)

Here are just some of the folks I spotted there: Mike McGrath, candidate for Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court; Jim Hunt, who’s challenging Congressman Denny Rehberg; and Democrat candidates for Montana Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Secretary of State.

Pat served for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first 14 years as Montana’s Western District Congressman and the last four years At Large (the entire state), and he served honorably. Unlike some of our other elected representatives and senators, he didn’t stay in D.C. and become a lobbyist upon retiring. He returned to Western Montana where he continues to work on policy for Rocky Mountain states. His wife, Carol, is majority leader in the Montana Senate.

Pasties were served to about 300 people and around $20,000 was raised for Democratic legislative candidates.

by Pete Talbot

Last weekend, congressional candidate Jim Hunt stopped by a seminal meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Montana (PDM) to introduce himself. That in itself impressed me. (More on PDM in the near future.)

“My values are markedly different than Rehberg’s,” the Democratic candidate said.

It was an all-to-brief meeting with Hunt — to date, Denny’s only challenger — but everyone was pressed for time. Here’s some of the stuff he said:

“Nobody called me and asked me to run.”

That’s good to hear. The Republicans were making hay over the fact that the Democrats couldn’t recruit anyone. Jim decided to step up to the plate on his own.

He says he’ll be his own man: “I’m not beholdin’ to anyone.”

He’s flying by the seat of his pants: “I have a six week plan.” Let’s hope he gets some staff in place soon.

He also said, and I couldn’t agree more: “Montanans are closer to my values than Denny Rehberg’s.”

He’s retired military, a small business owner, an attorney — he has solid credentials. He opposes the Bush/Rehberg voting record on Iraq, the Patriot Act, FISA, the environment … the list goes on and on.

He’s not a party insider — which can cut both ways.

Which brings up funding. Denny has a fair war chest but now that he has a real challenger, he’ll actually have to start working and raise even more money. Let’s hope that Max and Brian help with money and expertise on Hunt’s campaign, as I don’t see the senior Senator or Good Gov. in very tight races. I hear that Sen. Tester has lent his support.

The Republicans are already smearing: they raised a bogus complaint when Hunt announced at Fort Harrison — something about him using federal property for political purposes. He actually stood outside the gate at a place assigned to him by the Fort’s staff.

Republicans say he’s a desperate, late entry into the race. He seemed pretty confident to me: “I wouldn’t have gotten into this race if I didn’t think I could win.”

They even attacked him for using blue and yellow as his campaign colors, which happen to be the same colors as Rehberg’s. Turns out blue and yellow are the colors of Chester High School, where Hunt went to school.

But worst of all: he’s a “trial lawyer.”

The Republicans are going negative because there aren’t that many positives for their man Rehberg.  Other than his consistent support of Bush, can you think of any issues where Denny has taken the lead? And he’s been in Congress how long now? Almost eight years?

Anyway, my initial impression is that Denny has a race on his hands.

by Pete Talbot

Good news but a bit incomplete. I had two emails in my inbox this morning with this update: Jim Hunt is announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. Unless another Democrat gets into the race and beats Hunt in the primary — an unlikely scenario — Hunt will face Montana’s lone congressman, Denny Rehberg, this November. Unfortunately, the press announcement which I pasted below gives very little detail. The emails I received came from a couple progressives whom I know, so that’s a good sign. Here’s all the info I have:

Jim Hunt to Launch Campaign for Congress

Fourth generation Montanan and retired guardsman to announce his statewide campaign to replace Congressman Rehberg for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

On Tuesday, February 12, at 11:00 AM, Jim Hunt will hold a press conference to officially launch his campaign to defeat 7 year incumbent Congressman Dennis Rehberg for Montana’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The event will take place in front of the entrance gate at Fort Harrison Training Support Center, near Helena.

Born in Montana and raised on the Hi-Line, Jim Hunt is a Chester native and a fourth-generation Montanan. He served 23 years in the Montana Army National Guard – retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Hunt was educated in Montana, is a lifetime member of the NRA, Chancellor for the Episcopal Diocese of Montana, an avid sportsman and conservationist, and a consumer lawyer in Helena. He and his wife Barb have been married for 24 years, and they have two daughters, Hannah and Isabelle.

I can’t find a website for the guy. Here’s a week old Lee story with a little more detail. As always, 4&20 will keep our loyal readers abreast of any new developments.

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