John Bohlinger’s Record Isn’t Great on Labor, Either

While some are trying to paint former Republican and current Democratic candidate for the Senate as the more liberal candidate, his record on issues important to progressives suggests that he is anything but liberal. Not only was Bohlinger a strong anti-choice vote in the Legislature, but his record is anti-labor as well.

In the 2003 Legislature, Bohlinger received  a 25% rating from MEA-MFT, a score that put him just a single vote ahead of Republican Congressional candidate Corey Stapleton.  He received a 60% rating from the Montana AFL-CIO, a score lower than many Republicans and once again only marginally better than that of Senator Stapleton. In particular, Bohlinger voted against a 45 cent per hour wage increase for state workers.

In 2001, Bohlinger received a 36% rating from the Montana AFL-CIO, including a vote that protected companies that act “with intentional malice” that “create a high probability of injury” and a vote against increasing public school funding.

No one can really deny either that Mr. Bohlinger was relatively liberal for a Montana Republican or that he’s a good guy who served the state well, but efforts to paint him as someone who’s been on the side of progressive interests for his political career simply don’t stand up to serious scrutiny.

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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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  • Honestly, none of it would bother me if he addressed it (or addresses it in the near future) completely honestly – either come out and say ‘look, I was more conservative in the past but I’ve changed my mind on some issues’ or ‘I may be more conservative than some of you primary voters, but in the long run that’s a good thing because I’ll represent Montanans more accurately’. Either explanation, honestly delivered, would make me think seriously about him as a candidate. I’m only turned off if he tries to pretend the past never happened.

  • These are also questions we are gonna have to ask Walsh as well. but with the election still a year away….we all have to wait to get these answers.

    I noticed some of our left hand Emos-progs and the far right conservatives are already asking pollsters to poll here. To far out to even make a dent in how montanans think about the races at the end, in 2014.

  • My wish is that John had never really left the Republican Party. I realize that after he joined Brian Schweitzer’s administration the MTGOP made it very difficult for John to stick with the Party. I know he tried to attend some of their conventions and they wouldn’t let him go. I also know that when John McCain fumbled and asked Bohlinger to be his in state Campaign Chair, the MTGOP howled and asked it be revoked.
    What makes me sad is watching the Republicans change so drastically in the last 40 years. It used to be that being a Republican meant you wore a top hat and talked (and walked the walk) about fiscal responsibility and conservatism. They wedded with the Christian Coalition in the early 80’s and now they are facing an identity crisis of tea party proportions.
    This was evident in the last legislative session when even somewhat moderate Republicans got thrashed about by their own party. That is also being played out news now with the continued investigations of ATP in R vs R primaries.
    Long story short, John Bohlinger is a man of honor. I respect him greatly. I respect him as a last vestige of a Republican Party that was committed to fiscal conservatism. I miss true moderate Republicans that held their party to a standard and made them think about how to treat one another. I am sorry that they are getting pushed out of their party, because that leaves folks like John Bohlinger with no place to go politically at the moment, and that is a loss. At the end of the day, though, he is a Republican.

  • Army of 1 – I would hope that Walsh would walk away, I think he is the right man at the right time for the right job. But recent primaries (ex 2008, Hunt-Driscoll) just shows that one cannot take anything for granted. I am still mystified how that one happened. I sometimes wonder if that was a calculated crossover scenario (R’s voting for a weaker D). But then again, I can be prone to conspiracy theories. 🙂

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