I haven’t decided which candidate I hope will win today for a simple reason. Whichever candidate gets chosen is going to have a singular opportunity to break the Republican hold on the Montana House seat, and I want to be able to enthusiastically support that person and not be clouded, in a very short race by a sense of disappointment that my chosen candidate didn’t win. I hope I can throw myself into a campaign to defeat the New Jersey millionaire one more time because our state and people deserve better than someone so willing to hitch his Jersey wagon to an unhinged, authoritarian, crackpot simply to win an election.
That being said, my feelings being largely neutral in the race, I’ve been disappointed by the suggestion from some that this process is somehow unfair and the personal attacks that have been percolating under the surface. It’s harder to be enthusiastic about a candidate whose surrogates are attacking the other candidates in unfair ways. I want a robust debate about how the candidates see themselves as being more electable, about what they see as their policy priorities if elected, and why they are running. I’m frustrated—and disappointed—when campaigns and people close to them seem to be sinking to the level of the Trump supporters.
And I think candidates have a responsibility to try to rein in supporters who cross that line, to be the voice of reason and decency.
Last, what I absolutely don’t want to hear from any candidate or surrogate—today or after the vote—that this process is somehow rigged, or that “the fix is in” for any candidate. I’ve already seen that claim, and that’s just bullshit, pre-loss whining. This is a terrible process for selecting a candidate, an undemocratic and unrepresentative fix for a problem created by Ryan Zinke, but the process itself has been clearly laid out, fairly run, and open to anyone seeking the office. It’s not compelling or interesting or right to suggest that one candidate has been disadvantaged or cheated here. Because of Ryan Zinke, Montanans of both political parties have been robbed of a chance to select our candidates, but the Democratic Party has offered a fairer and fuller opportunity to let the public have its say.
I’m hopeful that Democrats will come out of today’s vote unified and ready to fight, but worried that won’t happen. Every one of these candidates will have races to run in the future, and we all pay attention to how those who don’t win today respond and just how hard they work to elect the person who wins. If they don’t work hard to elect whichever Democrat wins, that will say a lot about what really matters to them—and it isn’t us.
Good luck to all the candidates today.