Montana Politics

It’s Time for the Bucy Campaign to Grow Up

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In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, one candidate, Jesse Laslovich, is running like a frontrunner, raising funds and meeting with Democratic constituent groups while gaining their support. The other candidate, Pam Bucy, seems to be running a campaign far more interested in tearing down her opponent, using specious and even juvenile attacks rather than focusing on issues that should matter in this race.

Early in the race, it was an anonymous demonstrably false campaign suggesting that Mr. Laslovich had an anti-choice record. Lately, it’s been attacking Mr. Laslovich’s age, but the latest faux outrage is that a manufactured controversy centered around the fact that Laslovich’s campaign treasurer is a long-time supporter of Democrats in Montana.

I just learned some disturbing news. The law firm that is representing Rehberg in his lawsuit agains the Billings Fire department are supporters and donors of the Jesse Laslovich campaign for A.G. One of the lawyers is even his campaign treasurer. What is Laslovich thinking! This is ridiculous.

The “disturbing news” seems to have originated from one of the least convincing online personas I’ve ever come across and then was posted across Facebook, finally landing on the MT Cowgirl blog.

This kind of smear is both poor politics and unfair to Mr. Edwards, who has a longstanding record of supporting Montana Democrats.

A little more context about Mr. Edwards might be useful:

  • He’s working on behalf of families impacted by the Exxon oil spill, protecting landowners from the company, which he says has “caused real harm to the last free flowing river in America.”
  • He contributed $10,000 to the Democratic Party just this June and has been a long-time contributor to the party and individual candidates.
  • He was an important supporter in Jon Tester’s bid to unseat Conrad Burns.

The truth is that Mr. Edwards doesn’t need me to defend him. He’s proven his longstanding commitment to the Democratic Party. Although I haven’t met him and do disagree with his client’s decision to sue the city of Billings,  I’m not sure that demonizing him in an effort to smear Jesse Laslovich is a terribly productive strategy.

But is is the hallmark of a campaign that can’t stop going negative.

That kind of politics might play well in the Helena bubble, but statewide campaigns aren’t won with these kinds of attacks. They’re won by candidates who work the ground, raise money, and focus on issues. So far, Jesse Laslovich is running that kind of campaign, and it’s damn disappointing that Pam Bucy isn’t.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Pogie, I luv you like a brother, man. But there really ARE some disturbing things about Laslovich, particularly his votes on abortion. That alone is enough to make him unappealing to many of us. The rest of your post is right on. I will not vote for him based upon his abortions stance alone. We should be well beyond that at this point.

    • Which part of his abortion record do you not like? In a decade of serving the state of Montana Jesse has received a 90% from NARAL 2 times and 100% the rest of the time. Larry do you require all candidates you support to have 100% with every lobbing group that you agree with. I would rather my candidates thought for their self regardless what they are told by lobbyists. Thats what Jesse’s 90% represents, a willingness to think for himself and make judgments based on what’s right, not based on fear of a lobbyist group’s score card. I’m a little uncomfortable with 100% from any lobbing group, a little critical thinking and enough guts not to care about a score card makes for a better legislator, in my opinion.

    • I absolutely agree, Larry. I won’t vote for a candidate who is anti-choice, either. I’m also sure, though, that Mary Caferro and Sheila Hogan wouldn’t be supporting JL if he was.

      Pam’s never had to cast a single vote on choice. It seems unfair to demonize Laslovich for a single vote when Ms. Bucy simply doesn’t have a record.

      She also doesn’t even mention the issue of choice on her web page. I’d expect a champion of abortion rights to make clear her steadfast support, especially when she doesn’t have a concrete record on the issue.

  • LK: I love you like a brother, man; but this about securing the seat for the best candidate to defeat the earth hater Republican contender. Both Ms. Bucy and Mr. Laslovich attended the JeffCo Dem get-together the other night in Boulder. I was not there as I am trapped in Deadwood, but the general consensus, as voiced by my sources, suggested that Pam is just not up to the task.

    Keep up the good the good work, fellers; you guys rock!

  • I guess people just don’t want to look at the facts. I saw them both at the Democratic Convention in Great Falls. Pam is clearly the more qualified candidate. She has been an attorney for Department of Labor for years. Chief Deputy for Mike McGrath for seven years and has also been a prosecutor. This isn’t a race for the legislature. It’s for the chief law enforcement office in Montana and why wouldn’t we want the most qualified person in the office? From the looks of her web site, it looks like a lot of people from law enforcement agree with me. As for running a dirty campaign I haven’t seen it. I doubt the blogs you mentioned came from her campaign. She seems too classy for that.

  • Very disappointed to see Bucy running a campaign like this. Primary’s aren’t fun, but they should be above board. Smearing fellow Democrats reeks. It’s desperate and sad.

  • Pam Bucy spoke to the Flathead County Democratic Central Committee on 18 October. I’m not on the committee, but I asked her hard questions, indeed questions so hard that some of the CC members thought I was discourteous and abusing Bucy. When I asked her whether she thought Laslovich was qualified, she tried to avoid answering the question, saying she didn’t want to run a negative campaign, although she eventually said she thought he was short on experience. She handled herself well, but I wish I could have had her on the witness stand, under oath, and declared a hostile witness.

    I’ve also heard Laslovich’s pitch. He’s smart, slick, reeks of ambition, supports the death penalty, and strikes me as a guy whose spine is stiffened with authoritarianism.

    But this is what we get when we turn a skills position into a political office. All campaigns for attorney general degenerate into “I’ll hang ’em higher than anyone else” contests, and all candidates see the office as a stepping stone to governor or senator. It politicizes our justice system. Only by accident can good things happen on any AG’s watch. We deserve better.

    • Very good post and my take on it too. I like especially the part on the authoritarianism. ANYone who supports the death penalty in this day and age is an idiot, pure and simple.

    • It seems a little unfair to criticize Laslovich for supporting the death penalty, when as you noted in September that Ms. Bucy wouldn’t even answer the question–and likely supports it.

      I’d say not stating a position on the issue is pretty disingenuous.

      • She said she’d enforce the death penalty, and that if the state repealed the death penalty she’d enforce that law too. But I could not not get a straight answer out of her on whether she favored repealing the death penalty. She doesn’t want to answer the question. From that, I infer that she either supports the death penalty, or opposes it but lacks the courage to say so.

        I did send a question via the form on her website. She told me she had read my post on our bloodthirsty AG candidates, but had not received my question.

        At this point, I expect to enter the voting booth with a clothspin and a coin, and even with those aids I still might not be able to bring myself to cast a vote for AG.

  • What is Pam’s stance on Medical Cannabis? We know where Jesse stands, but I think people would be surprised where Pam is at on the issue. Her stance also explains some of her law-enforcement support, personally I support MMJ. Also I don’t see why prosecutor is a prerequisite for AG, I like that Jesse has never been a prosecutor.

  • “grow up”?? sigh….
    so to respond to your opening and closing comments: BOTH candidates have been raising money and both have out-raised Steve Bullock in the same quarter of the previous cycle. So clearly they are both working very hard on fundraising (as opposed to the contention that Pam is not fundraising.)

    BOTH candidates have been meeting with constituency groups across Montana and are creating a grassroots networks across the state – one may even argue that Pam has reached out to even more Democratic constituency groups than has Jesse.

    To me (a 35 year old voter) age does matter. The length of experience in the job and related positions does matter. Therefore, referring to Jesse’s age and (lack of ) experience is relevant to me as a voter deciding who is best suited to a) handle the office of Attorney General and b) who is more likely to win the general election.

    And, I will admit some sexism here, my gender is underrepresented in politics and has been since we were granted the right to vote. Plain and simple. So IF (and they aren’t) all things were even, I would tip the hat to Pam because, truth be told, I want to see more women elected to office.

    And dear Larry I wasn’t in Boulder either, but I heard that Pam rocked it. So it looks like there were people with varying opinions of how the candidates presented. I don’t think, I do in fact know that Pam is up to the task.
    and that last line there, LK,…….well…..nevermind.

      • Well I don’t know if I agree with you Pogie. Say Jesse were 65 years old and JUST graduated from law school. I would look at his professional experience leading up to his graduation to consider what sort of professional experience would round out his resume if comparing 2 candidates for Attorney General. So age is, unfortunately, is synonymous with experience, as Jesse (in MY opinion) hasn’t had the experience (life and professional) to run the DOJ (yet). (this is NOT to say that he is not an incredibly bright individual. I am basing on experience.)

        And sorry that gender is important. It is not the defining criteria for a primary vote for me. (i was a staunch Obama supporter throughout the primary, who also got the NARAL endorsement). So it is not a qualifier for my in my primary decision, but it sho doesn’t hurt.

        explore this website when you get a chance – and you will see why my gender feels disappointed at the statistics at times. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/

      • The U.S. Constitution sets minimum age limits for Congress, the President and voters. Age is a proxy for experience, and by itself is a useful, although not perfect, measure of maturity. And it’s certainly a legitimate issue when guy like Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond run for re-election for the Senate in their tenth decade of life.

        I think Laslovich would be a far better public servant were he to step away from politics for a decade, do a stint in the Peace Corps or something similar, travel, and broaden himself. He has the confidence of youth, but not the judgment and compassion of wide experience and additional seasoning.

    • I stated my case in three comments at Cowgirl so it seems superfluous to repeat it here. In case you missed them here is my summation. Yes, by all accounts Pam wowed the crowd and is a superlative candidate; I don’t deny that. It’s the electorate in the general that concerns me the most.

      Having two LKs commenting in the same thread can be confusing, perhaps you are referring to my typo in above post. Forgive me if it came off anything other than kudos to Mr. Kralj and Mr. Pogreba.

      Thank you for your passionate support of our Party.

      • I had not read those comments or that post. I, too, have worries about the general, but that is the beautiful thing about democracy, i can vote my opinion and you can vote yours. (hey thank God we have the right to vote and live in a country where we have free speech, pretty blessed thing)

  • I voted for Hilary in the primary, so I did my part. 🙂

    I actually understand the argument that given equal candidates, it might be reasonable to support the woman, for the historical discrimination you note. I just disagree that criticizing a candidate is sexist just because she happens to be a woman.

  • A little more context about Mr. Edwards might be useful:

    While unquestionably one of the finest plaintiff’s lawyers in Montana, Mr. Edwards is almost undoubtedly part of the 1%.

    • He may be – I don’t know exactly what percentage of the economic spectrum he lands. Yes Mr. Cliff Edwards has been incredibly successful which I celebrate – he has ALSO been incredibly generous and giving to a wide variety of causes and individuals which I also celebrate. If for some crazy reason I was given such economic luck I would take a page out of their playbook in giving. Not all of those that are that economically advantaged give. If only the world were filled with more such individuals who have done so well and then give back to those that helped them get there, we wouldn’t be seeing the protests that we do today.
      I feel very uncomfortable labeling people in an ‘us vs them’ economic pitting game. Just my 2 cents on their economic situation.

  • I am voting for Bucy because of her experience. The progressive part doesn’t hurt either. But experience wins it for me personally. Thanks for the chance to comment on a more positive forum.

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