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Montana Politics Winners and Losers of the Week 24 June 2012


  • Denny Rehberg is unquestionably the big loser this week. It was so bad he gets sub-bullets.
  • On Monday, the state GOP532887_371065699615581_350256657_n embarrassed showed its colors with a bullet-ridden outhouse display at the state convention. Afraid that Jon Tester might show up for a debate, Rehberg was forced to hide in it most of the day.
  • On Tuesday, the very day his federal land grab bill passed, he had to retract his laughable claim that the EPA was using drones to spy on farmers and ranchers.
  • On Thursday, Montana voters found out that Rehberg was ducking a scheduled debate to attend a fundraiser in Wyoming.
  • Finally, on Friday, noted political analyst Stuart Rothenberg observed that Rehberg’s campaign is in trouble, saying, “Some Republican insiders privately admit that freshman Democratic Sen.  Jon Tester is running the best re-election race in the country, and they are less than optimistic about GOP Rep.  Denny Rehberg’s ability to take the seat from him.”
  • The Montana Broadcasters Association certainly didn’t enhance its credibility this week, when they canceled the Senate debate in Whitefish. If a candidate chickens out of a debate, you still hold the debate, no matter how much advertising his campaign does on your stations. Canceling this debate will not only encourage this kind of behavior in the future, but did a tremendous disservice to Montana voters.
  • Derek Skees and Brad Johnson have such little credibility with mainstream conservatives that neither was endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce, which recently been little more than a Republican front group. Despite the group’s willingness to endorse almost any Republican candidate, they apparently draw the line at Confederate sympathizers and the entirely incompetent. Good for them.
  • Ron Paul supporters in the Montana Republican Party have been quite clearly notified that they are only welcome when they vote for mainstream Republican candidates. Conservative blogs are aflame with accusations that the Republican Party manipulated balloting for national delegates to keep Paul supporters from the Party.


  • Mike Taylor, who was somewhat vindicated in his criticism of the Baucus campaign for Senate in 2006 when the Senator appeared to confirm that he had been involved in the infamous cosmetics commercial against Taylor in 2000. Of course, all the attention has only brought the ad back from the dark recesses of the Internet, so it’s a bit of a pyrrhic victory.
  • Another win for Jim Foley, who despite being reassigned after his shameful performance at the University of Montana, can still expect to receive his entire salary for the year. It’s not just the University of Montana any longer; the entire system is a mess—and someone needs to begin rebuilding public trust, not through public relations, but beginning to do the right thing.
  • Equality was a big winner, at the unlikeliest of places, the Montana Republican Convention. Republicans finally removed the platform plank endorsing the criminalization of “homosexual acts.” To be clear, Montana Republicans have a long way to go on civil rights for all Montanans, but I have to give them credit for a step in the right direction.
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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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    • To expand. None of these endorcements should be any surprise to anyone. These are businessmen endorcing the candidates they feel will better serve their interests. I will take those endorcements with the knowledge of the special interests behind them.

      The only partial surprise is that they endorced even on Democrat. The Democrats they did endorce don’t surprise me, though. Derek Skees is an idiot and even the Chamber of Commerce knows this.

  • It should be pointed out that dropping the gay hate plank was only one of the surprises that came out of that convention… They have moved away from a number of social issues that were seriously hurting them.

  • Though the GOP has dropped the cruel and scientifically ignorant anti-homosexual aspect of their platform. It would be a mistake to not continue to highlight the idiocy of those who were members of the party while this was within their platform. Basically all of them. As if dropping it from their platform now frees them of the shame of going along with it in the past. It doesn’t, and people should be reminded of this.

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