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Montana Politics

Quick Thoughts on Diane Smith, the Congressional Primary

Visit Diane Smith’s Facebook and you’ll notice that she has completely embraced the Montana Democratic Party.  Whether it’s posting pictures of the Party’s banner, re-posting Party events, or just saying how great the Montana Democratic Party is – Diane Smith is all over it.  For someone that has contributed in the past to Denny Rehberg and Conrad Burns, I’m sure it was a bit of transition.

Diane Smith is most likely an “Independent” who leans left on a lot of issues, but leans right when it comes to business.  I doubt she’s going to change many of her positions for the sake of the primary – she’s looking to the general.  That being said, she also knows she has a lot of work to do before anyone considers her a dyed in the blue Democrat.

Can she do it before June 5th?  I highly doubt the left-wing of the party will ever embrace her.  In fact, I think the chance of that happening is slim to none. She came out the gate wrong and has a lot of baggage (see contributing to Rehberg).

So, what is her path to victory?  Simple.  Keep out raising everyone else in the race and convert Gillan’s supporters.  Smith is a real thorn in Gillan’s side and will continue to be that way through June.

So where does that leave the race?

Wilmer has a fairly large, die hard group of supporters but doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction beyond that.  Strohmaier seems to have some increased support, but remains a huge underdog.  And Melinda Gopher has yet to file.

In the end, even with a huge money drop, I’m not sure Smith will be able to excite enough voters to win in June.  That being said, she could create enough of a splash to make what was once Gillan’s race to lose, a Gillan v. Wilmer primary.

Either way, this is a fascinating race and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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M. Storin


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  • I was just reading this when I got home and wondered why Storin had forgotten you. 🙂

    I'm planning to turn my attention to the House race soon, and will be sure to cover you all.

      • Let's not leave Strohmaier out of the equation quite yet. Remember, Missoula delivers more Democratic votes, per county, than any other in the state.

        • I wonder if Missoula would deliver as many votes for Franke Wilmer. I suspect a Bozeman candidate would have more statewide appeal than a Missoula candidate.

          • I'm leaning toward Franke Wilmer, but for someone with alleged foreign policy chops, I'm not too impressed with the content on her site, and would like to hear more about what she thinks about current current events.

            I am definitely not voting for Dave, though. he's a little too nanny state for my liking with his attempt to legislate house party's.

  • I'm not sure why Smith is such a threat to Gillan, who is pretty well-regarded by a number of folks who have followed her career for years. She may not be a flaming liberal, but she's a good lawmaker who has done a lot of good work advancing important issues in many tough sessions. I like Franke and Dave personally and think they're both capable folks. But if I still lived in Montana, I'd be considering myself a Gillan voter without giving Smith much of another look.

    • I think the only threat is if Smith dumps a bunch of money in the race. To my understanding, she is the only one with any real $$.

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