Montana Politics

Diane Smith’s Economic Problem

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Since announcing her candidacy for House, Diane Smith has generated a great deal of attention and the attention she is recieving seems to be on the rise.

However, she’s often viewed through two lenses.  Through one lens, Smith is the only candidate with the national ties, deep pockets, and fundraising potential to run a serious campaign against Steve Daines in the general.

Through another lens, Smith is, at best, a conservative Democrat and, at worst, a Republican in sheep’s clothing.

In all reality, I think Diane Smith may be a bit of both.  She probably is one of the better candidates we have when it comes to beating (or at least challenging Daines), but her rhetoric on some issues, especially the economy, may be too difficult for some to stomach.  She just may be a little too much like Sen. Baucus, and that’s not going to fly with primary voters.

At this point in the race, Smith seems to pass the smell test on social issues, but it’s a very different story when it comes to her views on the economy and business regulation.

There have been multiple instances during her campaign where Smith has blamed criticized government regulation for our sluggish economy.  Furthermore, her “Jobs Plan” reads like something that House Majority Leader John Boehner might sponsor:

We have created government systems too often designed to impede rather than promote these National assets. Small businesses are often encumbered with unachievable regulatory burdens and subject to small business lending requirements that can’t reasonably be satisfied.

James Connor nails it when he wrote:

Her announcement of candidacy promised to get the government off the backs of businesses. That’s consistent with a true blue Republican or a Blue Dog Democrat, but not with a New Deal Democrat.

Finally, if you take into account her contributions to Rehberg, Conrad Burns, and to plenty of Democrats (after the 2006 election) – Smith comes off as an oppurtunist.

She may have the national ties, personal money, and fundraising potential, but Democrats in Montana have better options when it comes to protecting consumers, the middle class, and staples of the Democratic platform, like Social Security and Medicare (although Diane Smith does claim she will protect both programs).

About the author

M. Storin

21 Comments

  • smith served on the committee to work out the interlocal agreement between whitefish and flathead county as a representative of the county. the 2010 interlocal agreement she helped design was a document that was unacceptable to 100% of whitefish folks as well as 80% of the county residents who addressed city council prior to their vote. diane smith spoke in favor of the 2010 agreement and attempted to use scare tactics with her 'you may lose it all' nonsense. in addition to her financial support for rehberg and burns she also donated to the campaigns of 3 tea party members who ran for whitefish offices during our last election. her support for congress in whitefish is minimal.
    her campaign disclosure statement shows only 11% (+/-) of her individual donors are from montana. she's accepted money from 7 telecom PACs. based on her track record in whitefish i'm of the opinion she will serve her telecom buddies before she listens to the people who elected her.

  • I think Smith is best described as a social liberal and economic conservative. There is no place in the Republican Party for social liberals, so on that basis alone she's a Democrat by default. I see her as similar in outlook to Kim Gillan.

    Smith is a newcomer, and some of her history of financial support for the GOP is troubling, but I give her credit for running a savvy campaign. And, like Rob Stutz, she's shaking things up a bit, making the party regulars and hacks nervous, a good thing to do given the dismal track record of post-Pat Williams Democratic candidates for the U.S. House.

    What I keep in mind is this: any of the Democrats running for the U.S. House, even Sam Rankin, would be better for Montana than Steve Daines. I'm voting for Rob Stutz in the primary, but I'm voting for the Democrat on the ballot in November.

    • Oh! That reminds me I meant to add one of your posts to the blog roundup this week. I will add it this afternoon!

    • You're completely right, James (as M. Storin points out in the above post). I think the Dem tent should be big enough for people like Smith. That being said, the economic policy of the Dem Party are very important to me, so I'm not sure Smith will be getting my vote.

  • I admit to just now getting to know the Democrats running for the house. I have been primarily focused on the Presidencial race and the Senate Race here in Montana (I think the Governor's race is already over – Bullock will win it handily). In fact, it was just recently that I learned just how many candidates there were running in the Democratic Primary. Please excuse my ignorance if I manage to ask something stupid…

    • The author is absolutely correct about social progressives/fiscal conservatives. This used to be the core of the Republican party when I reached the age of majority (that is not completely accurate – social issues were considered none of anyone's business and simply weren;t discussed). Since then, the Republican party has taken a hard turn right toward religious intolerance, social regression and wingnut politics. The party has declared people like me leperous and have worked very hard to kick us out of the party. Moderate is a dirty word.

      Most people like me self identify as Independant now. That does not change how we feel about the issues. If Diane Smith is that type of person, I will have to look at her closely.

      The worst thing the Democrats would want to do at this point is declare people like me enemies the same way the Republicans have. I am not saying you should embrace us with open arms (though it would be nice to think that you would), but don't discount our numbers or our desire to work toward a better future.

  • I find it extremely troubling that Diane Smith and Sam Rankin have both contributed to Republicans in the past. I also find it troubling that a large portion of Diane's income on her last financial report were "Information Requested" and her contributions based largely outside of Montana. She may be socially liberal, but that doesn't take away from the fact that her platform on economics and politics are very synonymous with a Republican. I am a huge Dave Strohmaier supporter, and advocate for him, because there is no doubting his Democratic ties and very liberal opinions. He is an LGBT champion, has been firm on his opinion agains Keystone XL, and is the shining example of a Democrat in Montana. It's genuine Candidates like Dave Strohmaier that will be our best representation in Congress, not conservatives like Diane Smith, Sam Rankin, or Kim Gillan.

    • In your opinion, Dave Strohmaier is the best candidate, but I would point out that, like all opinions, it is your's alone.

      I personally like the idea of a social progressive/fiscal conservative and, given the polling being done in Montana, so do a butt-ton of other people. I do not know how I personally feel about Diane Smith or Sam Rankin because I have not done my due diligence in researching them yet but to dismiss them because they appear to be social progressives/fiscal conservatives does you and the rest of Montana voters a dis-service.

      I would also remind you that the (small) majority of Montana voters ARE fiscal conservatives Even Gov Schweitzer fits under that "tent". This could well be the direction Montana takes in the upcoming election and, for me personally, I find that direction a HELL of a lot better than the wingnut religious right direction followed by our previous legislature.

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