Montana Politics

AG race – don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.

I’ll admit I was never that invested in the Democratic AG primary. Sure, I showed up, and voted, but not because I knew for sure that Laslovich was the better candidate. I was swayed primarily by the Bucy campaign’s obnoxious behavior, Haque-Hausrath’s endorsement (as immigration is an important factor for me), and Pogie’s support.

That said, none of those factors would have mattered if Bucy hadn’t had a strong primary opponent. Bucy’s campaign may have felt the need to go negative (and dirty!) quickly. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but it doesn’t really change how she would be as a AG. And all the controversy between Bucy and Laslovich, there’s one candidate who hasn’t gotten enough attention: Tim Fox.

Tim Fox has an interesting view of what qualifies as ‘issues‘- Obamacare, “Protecting our children”, and Gun Rights.

Really? Obamacare is hardly earthshaking – most Americans, in fact, wish that it went further. I fully believe it will – once it actually takes hold and people get used to it, we can talk about expanding it. Either way, it’s not an issue that defines an Attorney General – it’s an ‘issue’ that scores points for a candidate while meaning essentially nothing. That seems to be a theme – look at issue two.

Yes, everybody supports keeping our kids safe from sexual predators (or really any kind of predator). But despite claiming that Bullock hasn’t done enough in that department, Fox gives neither evidence that Bullock has failed, nor does he provide any ideas for how he would do differently. Again, a campaign issue, not a real one.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Fox campaign without him promising to defend our gun rights. He doesn’t even bother to give any far-fetched examples of those threat to those rights. Again, not an issue except during the campaign. But it’s more than just showboating – if Fox actually sees danger to our gun rights, it’s a good indication that he’s out of touch with the real issues facing the attorney general. Bucy’s website and endorsements, on the other hand, show that despite her somewhat slimy campaign, she does understand the most important issues in Montana today.

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  • I think you hit the nail pretty squarely on the head. Bucy is obviously preferable to Fox – obviously – but I think she will have trouble finding broad, enthusiastic support because of the tactics used during the primary.

    • I think the primary will be largely forgotten by the first day of Election Month in October. Some of Laslovich’s partisans are unhappy at this point, which is understandable and not uncommon, but by Labor Day Democrats will be rowing as a team.

      Bucy’s campaign had some rough edges. I expect those will be smoothed by the summer’s end. In the meantime, I give her credit. She was an unknown who took the measure of a career politician with a strong home base and handed him his hat. I think she’ll hand Fox his hat, too.

      • That is hardly fair to either Bucy or Laslovich. She won by 800 votes. That is hardly “handing him his hat”. Second, Laslovich is no more a career politician than Bucy is.

        It is this kind of crap that makes it really hard to support Bucy.

      • I have to agree, James. You’re off base, with all respect. If you followed the campaign closely, you’d know that Bucy was much more of the “insider” than Jesse… And winning by less than 1% is hardly a butt kicking. That is incredibly close, especially for someone who had the “Insider Team” backing them…

        • Come on, now guys (if Helena Insider is a guy), chill out. You remind me of the Hilaryites who were determined to remain disgruntled because they didn’t like Obama’s supporters. If you choose to believe that 800 votes is an “incredibly close” margin, and that the statewide margin is all that counts, well hell, that’s fine with me. You’re entitled to your opinion.

          But Insider, whoever you are, whether or not you really are a player, you’re not entitled to twist my words. I didn’t say that Laslovich was more an insider, whatever you mean by insider (you might consider defining your terms) than Bucy. I said — go back and read my post again — that he was a “career politician with a strong home base” who got his hat handed to him by an unknown. You dislike that opinion. Fine. That’s your right.

          And Moorcat, I’m not running for AG. Surely you’re not going to base your vote on what I do and say instead of what the candidates do and say. Bucy doesn’t control me, and she’s not responsible for what I do and say. I’m not part of Bucy’s campaign, either, and won’t be. In fact, when she was in Kalispell last fall, I gave her a pretty hard time. I didn’t like her identity appeal to Democratic women (or, for that matter, the identity appeals of Gillan, Wilmer, and Smith). I didn’t give Laslovich a hard time when he was up here.

          Chill out. Time to focus on beating Tim Fox.

          • The so called “Helena King-makers” and those who are often referred to as the “Helena Insiders” — people who work for or run a series of small, special interest groups and all run in the same circle, making objectivity very difficult in the capital city.

            • It’s strange to me, as I feel like I heard that accusation of Pam quite a bit. Even after you vaguely defined this group, I still don’t know what it means. Pam was able to garner support in Helena, yes, but also in communities across that she very actively campaigned to. So she had support from some people in Helena, but also everywhere across the state. In contrast to Tim Fox’s abysmal resume, Pam clearly stands out with the experience necessary to run the A.G.’s office. I think she will have no trouble articulating that she is the clear superior candidate to manage the DOJ over Tim Fox, who so far is only able to parrot GOP talking points about Obamacare and such. And she will be able to carry that momentum she has built through the primary, continuing to reach out to voters across Montana into the general.

        • Gotta say she saved Beaverhead county when we didn’t have a AG Moorcat,

          Before we had Jed and before, after, and During Mike Riley( who didn’t even know how to file a complaint, Pam took this county in and saved us from being caught between a rock and a hard place, she subbed until Jed was found and she did it while pregnant as well. Beaverhead County owes her a debt of gratitude.

          No Matter how crappy some of her people are, we got to elected her for taking care of us.

          • Your history lesson is a little skewed, Norma. There was a County Attorney after Riley that actually wasn’t too bad (though he was obviously a member of the “Good Old Boy’s Club” common to attorneys and judges in this town). I actually talked to him on multiple occations when blogging about City antics. He was actually a lot of help on the legal stuff. Sorry, I can’t remember his name off the top of my head (I am horrible with names) but if you insist, I will look it up for you. He resigned for a better job somewhere else and Finch stepped into his job with little muss or fuss (and a fat pay raise).

            I wasn’t in Dillon prior to Mike Riley so really don’t know the particulars other than Mike was rarely at work due to “health issues”.

      • “Bucy’s campaign had some rough edges. I expect those will be smoothed by the summer’s end.”

        I think the rough edges are exactly what she’s going to need. Her campaign knows how to go for the throat, I just wish she didn’t do it to fellow progressives. She’ll need a great deal of toughness to take on Fox. We’ve seen how he runs his campaigns once already. Her supporters are also enthusiastic, which we saw in the primary. If they can tone down the obnoxious factor, they’ll be an asset. And I think she does have a fair amount of broad support and important endorsements. What it comes down to I think is whether the tough primary turns people off. I know Moorcat and Pogie were close to the level. But it also got her supporters a running start – she’s got some momentum now, her campaign is already warmed up, all in all she has a head start over Fox. If Laslovich’s supporters back her up, I think having to exert herself in the primary can be an advantage. But, it’s really up to the Bucy partisans to reach out to Jesse’s supporters. I’m ready to back Bucy, but I’d like to see more reaching out by the Bucy campaign to ensure the support of Laslovich’s former supporters.

        • I don’t need anyone to “reach out” to me. What I need is hear less hyperbole and anti-opponent crap and more about why I should back her. I hate having to remind people of this, but I am not a Democrat. I am a moderate Conservative that tend to vote socially progressive. I can be swayed by reasoned and sometimes even passionate debate but telling why I should vote against Bucy’s opponent (be that Laslovich or Fox) isn’t going to get the job done with me. If I find a candidate that I can truly relate to and I can truly support, I do so wholeheartedly, but I won’t be convinced by negative or propoganda.

          And James, I don’t need to chill out. I am quite “chilly” on my own. I simply refuse to accept a victory of less than 1% of the voters as “an asskicking” and given the hyperbole I have suffered through from the nutcase right, I am not going to accept it from the left either.

          If you want to convince me I should vote for Bucy, do so. Tell me why I should put stock in her as MY representative for Attorney General.

          • I don’t want to convince you to vote for Bucy. I want you to convince youself to vote for her. And I think that by election day, chilly as you are, chilled out as you’re not, you’ll do that.

            I never said that Laslovich got his ass kicked. I said that after studying the election returns, I concluded that Bucy did better as a statewide candidate than the 800-vote margin suggests. I’m fascinated that my conclusion — which has been denounced, but not disproven — has raised so many hackles.

            I’m going to leave the discussion where it is. It will be interesting to review the AG election returns in November.

            Cheers, everyone.

          • Makes sense to me. What I know, I know mostly from her website, but it seems like she at least understands a few of the challenges facing an AG, and discusses real issues she’s likely to deal with. Labor seems to support her, she has support from the tribes, she has a reasonable view of conservation, etc. She has listed specific achievements as well as specific plans for the future. For those reasons, she seems like a good candidate. As far as blurring the lines between activism and law enforcement, I think her experience in the AG’s office suggests she understands the responsibilities of the job and can accomplish it. Just my belief, obviously, but I think it’s accurate.

          • Moorcat, it would be helpful in this case to separate the politicking from the platform or plan of action. Take a look at this post again, and what you see isn’t a game of ‘why you shouldn’t vote for Fox’. It’s rather more the case that Fox is campaigning against the wrong opponent, and Bucy is worth voting for if you even consider Fox’s ‘issues’.

            ‘Obamacare’: Fox isn’t campaigning against Bucy or for Montana. He’s taking Bullock’s refusal to serve the TEA peeps and running with it. Bucy, on the other hand, is progressive about the ACA, and has indicated a will to see what happens in the SCOTUS before taking a strong (and most assuredly pointless) state level stand. She has celebrated the administration’s call for provision of contraception. That has been construed as ‘unfair advocacy’ in a primary campaign that was admittedly very ugly. Remove the campaign dynamic, and what you have is a person running for office who joyfully supports the same legal standing as you yourself do.

            ‘We must think of the children’: Fox’s complaint is again against Bullock, not his opponent. Fox is appealing to those unhappy that anyone on the ‘sex offender’ registry haven’t been offered as public sacrifice. He’ll get some support for that. I have been vocal about how I thought the electioneering from Bucy was somewhat “showboating”, but the facts are what they are. Bucy offers the [email protected] Kids program, and that has been shown to work time and again. Which is more important to you as a voter? Crucifying the guy who inappropriately talks dirty to a 16 year old, or actually teaching kids what is important to be safe in a changing world? (I’m not being a smart ass. I know what your answer is. That’s a reason to vote for Bucy *and* to vote against Fox.)

            ‘Gun rights’: It’s Gary Marbut against a fantasy. Bucy hasn’t said thing one about ‘taken’ away the guns. Nor will she. Nor would any Montana politician who seeks office and follows the law. Fox follows Marbut down the rabbit hole. The question to ask yourself is this, do you?

            There. You wanted a reasoned defense for why you should vote for Bucy, despite the behavior of her supporters in the primary. That’s three, all provided courtesy of Tim Fox. Please remember that we’re not dealing with a case of “exclusive or”. It is not the case of ‘vote for Bucy’ or ‘vote against Fox’. It’s more the case of doing both, all wrapped up as a favored Christmas boutique gift item.

  • Someone ought to charge a royalty for use of the phrase “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good.” You used “best” I know, but still, it’s copyright infringement. Once that phrase was uttered, all of the accommodators and compromise-firsters ran to use it against anyone who was appalled by lesser-evil politics. It’s a way of allowing weak-kneed submission to money interests appear to be smart decision making.

    At dinner last night I asked about Bucy (we are in Montana) – these were knowledgeable folks. They felt comfortable because she had the endorsement of MCV and was pro-choice. That oughtta do it for mainstream Dems. She could be anyone wanting to do anything. She could be a Trojan Horse Republican, like Gillan. They really I know nothing about her. American politics does not inquire into bedrock issues, and American campaigns are not constructed to dwell on issues.

    Business as usual.

    • I believe it’s copyright infringement against Voltaire, but I could be wrong.

      I agree with you that abortion is used too frequently as a decisive issue – I think it’s likely that Laslovich would have won the election except that he was painted anti-choice, failing to achieve a 100% rating from NARAL. And the MCV endorsement seems less than meaningful.

      But one real reason to vote for Bucy is this – she, like Bullock, understands that corporate money is being used to undermine organized labor and the standards it has fought for. She states it directly on her website. While labor endorsements went both ways in the primary, I think the substantial numbers pulling for Laslovich will see that Bucy is also a good candidate for protecting their interests.

      • Abortion is still useful, 40 years after Roe v Wade, as a wedge issue. That’s all most politicians care about – an issue so heated that people will actually change the way they vote. There are others, like guns and gays and mosques, but the important thing is that it is only campaign rhetoric, and does not affect the behavior of officials once elected. That’s why such issues are cherished by the political class.

        I look for evidence of more than just political rhetoric. I could care less about what might be said at a website. Obama’s 2008 webiste is a trove of empty words. Only past actions matter. Remember when Obama was dissing NA FTA in Ohio in the 2008 primary? Canadian officials raised some concerns, and his campaign was quick to assure them that it was only campaign rhetoric.

        Maybe that was Hillary. Same difference. The point is that words spoken in campaigns attract enormous attention and are then forgotten. American political campaigns are usually sound and fury signifying nothing.

          • No one says that such issues are not important to people affected, but rather that they are used cynically by politicians to manipulate voters, and that is the extent of the political meaning – temporary electoral advantage.

            Too many tiers for you?

            • That’s funny. You claim these issues aren’t important except to those they affect and then deride those to whom these issues affect. This isn’t about voter manipulation, Tokarski. It’s about those who voting actually affects. Women are over 50% of the polity. By your own admission, these issues are important, and you’re too stupid to see why.

              Quite apparently, that’s too many tiers for you.

            • You are very opaque, unable to see the means by which our electoral system is in a perpetual state of fraud. These issues are used merely for electoral advantage, and then shelved again when the election is over. Although I respect your fake empathy for women, you might try the real thing sometime: seeing through politicians and working issues, not people.

              American elections are for people who do not read or think.

              Oh, Hi Rod! Didn’t see you standing there.

              • Mark –

                You’re right in many ways – politicians rarely actually make an effort to affect abortion issues, and many no doubt manipulate the issue. But the Dakotas have already shown us how much harm conservative politicians can do to the accessibility of abortion. Having an AG who is solidly pro-choice is one way to ensure that abortion is not only legal, but available.

  • I liked Jim Shockley better than Tim Fox, but I think the race is his to lose, because he’ll get a big push from the anti-Obama political Tsunami that’ll hit on election day.

    I have a lot of respect for any of the politicians who have the guts to put a (D) behind their name this election cycle.

    Not enough respect to vote for them, but they have guts.

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