Montana Politics

No More “Green Happy Hours”

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During the heated primary for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, there was an insinuation that Bucy was the environmentalists’ candidate.  By towing a line, the Bucy campaign was able to garner the support of the Montana Conservation Voters and a significant portion of the environmentalist community.  A clear strategy to win in June, not so clear of a strategy to win in November.

The campaign’s M.O. was as follows: paint Bucy as the environmentalist candidate and Laslovich as development candidate.  A clear example of pandering  were the frequent “Green Happy Hours” Bucy’s campaign would host around the state.

Smoke and mirrors.  I’m sure many of the environmentalists (please note the use of “environmentalists” versus “conservationists”) that went to the polls on June 5th are now questioning their decision.

As was expected, Tim Fox immediately seized on MCV’s endorsement as a way to attack his Democratic opponent.

[Fox] cited that stance as a “clear contrast” with Bucy, noting she was endorsed during the Democratic primary election by the Montana Conservation Voters, a group Fox equated with environmentalists who often stand in the way of natural resource development.

Fox struck a similar chord in his speech to convention delegates Thursday evening:

“When the extremists want to shut down all of the natural resource development in Montana, you call me, and I’ll make a difference, and we’ll put that fire out,” he said, to great applause.

Bucy’s response?

Bucy, contacted for a response, took issue with Fox’s suggestion that she is allied with environmental extremists, saying she favored the Land Board’s lease of state coal for development in southeastern Montana’s Otter Creek Valley.

The walk back has begun and, honestly, it’s probably necessary in order to win in November.  Just look at the natural resource stances our popular Democratic Governor has taken over the years.

I doubt we’ll be seeing many more “Green Happy Hours” in the months to come.

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M. Storin

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  • Realpolitik 101. Drink the cool-aid, or suffer ecological holocaust at the hands of those scary, evil Republicans. Either way leaves no cop on the environmental beat in Helena to stand and fight against unsustainable corporate greed and deregulation, and privatization of our commonwealth. What good are conservationists that really don’t conserve anything? Does not compute.

    • Saying Laslovich only “did well” in two counties is wrong. The election came down to about 800 votes. Although Bucy led in most counties, the lead was very marginal in all of them. At any rate, it’s now over and we have to move on.

      • You’re right. The primary came down to 800 votes. That’s an INCREDIBLY slim margin. Whatever the reason for Bucy’s slim win, it was a win. However, it does look like she’s quickly shifting for the general… something I don’t think many of her most fierce supporters expected.

        • and some still wonder why so many people view politics as a bunch of bullshit, with candidates who will say whatever to win.

      • It would help if you would define what you mean by “marginal.” Meanwhile,I stand by my statements. I said Laslovich did well — meaning he won by thousands of votes — in only two of the state’s *larger* counties, Deer Lodge and Silver Bow. He lost by substantial margins in the state’s other *large* counties. If one removes the home town advantage by subtracting Silver Bow and Deer Lodge from Laslovich’s total, and Lewis and Clark from Bucy’s total, Bucy wins not by 800 votes but by 4,600.

        In reviewing the election returns, it’s helps to look at the actual number of votes in each county as well as the percentages. The 30 counties that Bucy won comprised 79.3 percent of the votes cast. Bucy won 11 of the 1,000-vote counties, and carried 14 counties with at least 55 percent of the vote.

        Laslovich won only three counties — Deer Lodge, Jefferson, and Silver Bow — in which 1,000 or more votes were cast. Laslovich did extremely well in Deer Lodge and Silver Bow, won by 28 out of 1,032 votes in Jefferson, and won by no more than 188 votes in the other counties he carried.

        Overall, the race was close. But Laslovich was a regional candidate with limited appeal in the big counties. He won by landslides in his two home counties, by a whisker in Jefferson, and by substantial percentages (55+ %) in 14 small counties.

    • Good analysis, but it misses two things: (1) poor turnout and (2) Bucy doesn’t seem to have broad rural support – something necessary to win a general.

      • It’s far more important to have broad support in the big counties. That’s where most of the votes are. Especially, Democratic votes.

        Will the rural Democrats who voted for Laslovich vote for Fox in November? Not likely.

        Would a larger turnout have turned the tide for Laslovich? Who knows? In any event, one must work with the turnout that occurred.

        The turnout was comparable to 2004. See http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2012/april_june/2012-06-05_montana_primary_turnout.html for more info on MT primary turnout for 1920–2012.

        • My problem with your analysis, James is that all that really matters is who got the most votes. Bucy won by 800 votes. It remains to be seen if Bucy can win the general.

          I think – especially in this general race – the outcome will almost certainly be determined by voter turnout. Bucy supporters turned off a lot of people – myself included – and while most of those voters will probably not vote for Fox (though I wouldn’t bet the farm on that), they also may not vote for Bucy. Myself, I am on the fence. There is a lot to like about Bucy, but I have a lot of reservations as well. Fox is a definite NO for me. I won’t vote for a candidate I don’t believe in, though. I am done with doing that.

          • All I can say is that I hope you end up voting on policy, not the campaign. I would have preferred Laslovich as well, but the voters chose Bucy. Her campaign has been as annoying as all get out, and of course there would be a certain amount of satisfaction to be had in watching her campaign fail because its obnoxious tactics turned voters off. But I think a Fox victory would melt the Freude right off that Schadenfreude pretty damn quickly.

            Ultimately, I think what it comes down to is – would you have voted for Bucy if she didn’t have primary competition? I think it’s important not to let the primary election cause our candidate to lose the general, if only because that creates a huge disincentive to legitimate primary challenges, which are necessary for healthy democratic participation.

            • I really don’t know how to answer that. Would I have voted for Bucy in an uncontested primary? As it stands now, I don’t know. I heard more about how Laslovich was bad, then I did about why I should be voting for Bucy. Given that, I probably would have left the primary space blank on that race since there was no competition. There was only one democrat running in an uncontested race that I wrote in a candidate (my snarky way of voting against them – yes, I know it means nothing). That race has already been decided in my mind.

              I will probably end up pulling the lever for Bucy. As I said above, I have a lot of reservations about Bucy, but she is more likely to represent me than a wingnut like Fox. Now if the Republican Candidate had NOT been a wingnut, it could easily have been a different story. I am still not convinced that Bucy will represent the majority of Montana voters, and I am still concerned that Bucy will use her position to effect activist driven agendas.

              • “I am still concerned that Bucy will use her position to effect activist driven agendas.”

                How so? I’m curious about your concerns – you’ve done more research on her than I have.

                • Throughout her campaign and, in fact, much of her professional carreer, she has been a advocate of women’s rights. This should come as no surprise to anyone as it was one of her campaign planks and one of the earliest attacks made by the Bucy supporters on Laslovich.

                  Now understand that I, too, support equal rights for women and the freedom of choice is a matter of LAW. These things should be protected and fought for.

                  What I fear is that issues relating to women’s rights will get a LOT of attention and other issues – equally important – may not get the attention they deserve.

                  For an AG candidate, I want to know that the person in that office is enforcing the LAW, not a partisan idea, not a personal crusade and certainly not a idealist crusade. It is the AG’s job to be the lawyer for the State of Montana. I want to see someone that sees the law first, and crusades second.

                  What happens when a situation comes before her where the law is in conflict with her personal crusade? Will she enforce the law, or will she choose her ideals over her job?

                • This leads me to an equally important question relating to ALL the candidates for office and one which I personally have spent a great deal of time considering.

                  In the polarized political landscape that exists today, candidates are choosing to take very polarized stances on the issues. This is all well and good in theory, but what happens when a candidate is faced with a question of choosing between an ideological stance and faithfully representing the constituancy they serve?

                  Let me give you an example to illustrate my point. Let’s say – for whatever reason – a progressive liberal gets elected to represent a primarily conservative county. When an issue comes up that requires that person’s vote, do they vote for the liberal stance of their party, or do they represent their constituancy?

                  That simple question has me reconsidering many of my votes.

                • I would say it comes down to how they represented themselves in the election. If they represented themselves as a liberal and were nonetheless elected in a conservative county, then I think the constituents have endorsed whatever views the candidate advertised during the campaign. If they were to campaign as a moderate and vote liberal, or campaign as reasonable and vote TEA party, that would be a problem, namely in misleading one’s constituency (although even then, I think it is sometimes justifiable if the issue is one of human rights).

                • “I think the constituents have endorsed whatever views the candidate advertised during the campaign”

                  I would characterize that as a HUGE assumption. First, a candidate often wins because the other candidate is worse. Like it or not, that is a function of modern politics. You, yourself use the same argument when discussing Bucy.

                  Further, I would posit that a candidate will get elected in many cases because that candidate will attempt to appear to the constituants as one that will represent them fairly. That is the meaning of the word “representative”. This is the quandry I am facing now.

                • That’s a fair point, Moorcat. But how is a candidate supposed to divine the will of the voters, besides by their votes? Opinion polls can be helpful, but if they were the be all end all of popular opinion, we would put Gallup in charge of the country. Ultimately I think representatives should be honest with their constituents, but also recognize that their constituents will are not as a group as well informed about the specifics of any particular issue as their representatives (since being informed about politics is not their job). Therefore, sometimes a good representative has to buck the polls, vote what they think is the best. The plus side? In a couple years the voters get to choose whether they want to keep that individual.

                  Ultimately, the democratic form of government assumes that whoever gets elected is the person the most people could agree on. Sure, there will be clothes-pin voting and such, but I think if the people elect a representative, they have to accept that their view will not always be transmitted directly, which is why a candidate’s integrity and reliability are so important. I can never know everything that goes on in the halls of power – I rely on my representatives to act fairly even if they don’t follow popular opinion exactly.

                • “But how is a candidate supposed to divine the will of the voters, besides by their votes?”

                  Look at the votes not just for individual candidates but also the votes for, e.g., citizen initiatives and the Montana Constitution to understand the consensus of the people.

                • That’s true, Rob. Sadly, there are few issues where we can look to direct referenda or initiatives to gauge voter opinion.

                  But as I recall, you support gay marriage, right? But Montanans made their opinion on that abundantly clear 8 years ago in 2004, in a citizen’s initiative that altered the state’s constitution. That is probably my biggest problem with endorsing the in all situations representatives being absolutely faithful to their constituents – I think I’d have trouble in their situation voting or working against equal rights.

                • There are relatively few specific issues decided by voters, but the Montana Constitution is a bit more comprehensive, especially when understood as an expression of the values of Montanans.

                  Regarding marriage equality, the Montana Constitution was amended to include an exclusive definition of marriage but also addresses equality of opportunity and equal protection. How to reconcile the different, current provisions is being sorted out. However, Montanans could also use the initiative process to either eliminate the definition or to redefine marriage again to be more inclusive.

                  How might an elected official in Montana interpret the current situation? First, because Montana and other states have defined marriage in various ways, an elected official could support the repeal of the federal definition in DOMA. Second, because Montana could redefine marriage in a more inclusive way, an elected official could personally support the redefinition (or the elimination of the definition) at the state level. Both of these positions are consistent with the current text of the Montana Constitution. An elected official could encourage either or both of these actions, demonstrating both leadership (it would change the status quo) and fidelity to the express will of the people.

                • Rob,

                  The Constitutional Amendment itself is unconstitutional. This is the quandry facing the legal experts at this point. There is litigation in the pipeline right now to address it. It will probably not get a chance to go to the voters.

  • I seldom – okay never – post comments on any blogs that do not involve my grandchildren but I do think it is important to respond to this post. I attended a fundraiser for Pam in Missoula during the primary, and yes, I was a strong Bucy supporter – she was one of my finest students in the years I taught at the UM School of Law and I have utmost respect for her and her work and I believe she will be an excellent AG. At that gathering she was asked whether how she would have voted on Otter Creek by a very high profile and influential leader of the environmental community. Without hesitation, she said that she would have supported the decision of the Land Board and then gave a thoughtful perspective on the role and obligations
    of the Land Board. She knew this was not the answer most of the people at this gathering wanted to hear but she was honest and thoughtful in her response. So there has been no “walk back” on the position that Pam took on this issue during the primary. I am also a member of MCV and I think most members understand the complexities of these issues. While I do not speak for MCV or its members, none of the MCV folks I know are rethinking or regretting their endorsement of Pam in any way.

    • It was my understanding that MCV’s endorsement of Bucy was by a very narrow margin. Are you on the board? Is this true?
      I’m an MCV member and haven’t gotten many answers on this.

  • Storin –

    Ms Weaver is correct. As Shahid Haque-Hausrath pointed out here, we knew where she stood on Otter Creek during the primary campaign. It remains to be seen whether she will change her primary positions for the general election, but this is one she has stuck with.

    • As the post’s title reads: No More “Green Happy Hours” – Bucy’s tactics will certainly change now that she in in the general, as they should. But, the heart of the matter is that Bucy spent almost a year painting Lalsovich as the “development” candidate in order to get the support of the environmental community. Turns out (as many people have pointed out here and prior to June), she and Jesse had very similar positions on development, conservation, and environmentalism — however, only Bucy tried to spin it all.

  • Thoughout the campaign PB touted her rural, Montana ties, Townsend Montana = ironic, she failed to win her own home turf

  • Bucy won broadwater county. She had 78 percent of the vote. And she won Lewis and Clark county. 56 percent of the vote.

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