Bold Republican Decisiveness in 2014

It probably makes the most sense to blame Steve Daines. After1b63fabf5cb18ade15824873120f8b7838 all,  in 2012, he boldly fled the Senate field to clear the deck for Dennis Rehberg to be defeated by Jon Tester.Perhaps noticing that Daines was almost the only Republican to win a statewide race that year, the rest of his party seems to be following his bold, decisive leadership when it comes to choosing races.

Consider Rehberg himself, who said after his defeat in 2012 that he was out of politics and returning to Montana to ranch. Now, he’s opening up Burger Kings and floating trial balloons for another House race. It would appear he’s also changed his mind about Montana voters, who he said “bitch and whine and moan” all the time.

John Bohlinger was an anti-choice, anti-labor Republican for an odd 60 years, before briefly becoming an Independent, before becoming a modern incarnation of Norman Thomas in his bid to win a Senate seat.

Perpetual candidate Brad Johnson said he would run for the House after Steve Daines announced for the Senate, but today told Mike Dennison that he might run for the PSC again. I hope he doesn’t drive himself to file.

Corey Stapleton filed for the Senate, leaked that Steve Daines was running for it, and switched to the U.S. House race.

Champ Edmunds seems to have moved from the Senate race to the House race to the Senate race, and might drop out altogether.

Apparently, House candidate Ryan Zinke gave some thought to the Senate race, having one Astroturf organization raise money for his Senate bid and another “explore it.”

Former Lt. Governor candidate and state representative Jon Sonju was “all in” for a US House bid before withdrawing his name two weeks later.

And these people run around talking about the importance of leadership?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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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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  • Please, Montanans, is there no one that will step-up in the face of this mockery, this joke, this perpetual shaking of our heads that will occur all year?

    Isn’t there some businessmen or rancher that wants to put their money on the line and challenge one of these guys, make their grandkids remember them in a different light?

    Isn’t there some pissed of university professor that really wants to make some of these social experiments seem a little less textbooky while sticking it to admin?

    How about some poor person that has to hold a sign by the highway exit to raise the $1,735 to give these boys a wholluping and a tongue-lashing the likes of which they haven’t seen since Mrs. Sharpe got going back in 2nd grade ?

    Now we’re pulling Rehberg back? Is this the best we can do?

    • Don’t fool yourself, Greg. It will cost someone a LOT more than $1735 to run a campaign for the US House seat (and even more for the Senate seat). Politics in America is big business now and the fact that Tester – an organic farmer with a net worth of less than $300,000 at the time – won his election is the exception to the rule. I may not like the game, but I am realistic about it. If you want to mount a successful campaign for the US house in Montana, you better come prepared to spend – quite literally – millions of dollars.

      I, too, am utterly disgusted that Rehberg might enter the race. He certainly isn’t the “best” that the Montana Republican party can do, but he IS the one that can win the election for them. Sadly, the “best” that the Republican party can do wouldn’t get past the primary. There is too much compromise that must be done between the nutcase far right and the moderate right for someone to actually win the primary on a rational conservative platform. This is definitely a fault in the Republican party and the key issue with the so called “Civil War” going on in the Republican party. Personally, I think the Republican Party should divorce the Tea party and let them attempt to form a third party like the Greens. The Republicans would then be able to step away from the insane platforms they have been forced to run on and can get back to rational conservative ideas. The Tea party would still end up voting for them so they really don’t lose anything by doing it. Our political process isn’t set up for third party candidates so you would rarely see a true Tea party candidate get elected. It is a win win. In a decade or so, the Tea party would enjoy the same notoriety as the Green party and we could get back to the work of actual governance.

        • How so, Greg? I am curious how I am “wrong” about this. James did a wonderful breakdown on supporting his claim that Lewis would need near $4,000,000 to win the House race and I agree with most of his reasoning on this. I would be interested in hearing your justification that money isn’t an issue.

  • I find it interesting that you continue to harp on Bohlinger as being against legal abortion supported only by the flimsiest of evidence, the bill that criminalizes harm to a fetus when the mother is attacked. That is a bill I would easily support even as I favor legal abortion.

    Your stance is existential, assertion without evidence, obviously hoping that if repeated often enough it will become accepted wisdom.


    • Shame? On you, perhaps.

      Bohlinger received 0%, 0%, and 50% from NARAL/Pro-Choice Montana. I trust their judgment more than yours on the matter.

      Bohlinger told the press that he disagreed with the Democratic Party platform plank protecting a woman’s right to choose.

      Bohlinger filed a complain with COPP when someone suggested he might be pro-choice.

      Facts, as they say, are stubborn things. People who ignore them even more so.

      • Nothing compelling there, especially NARAL. You pulled that “I trust their judgment.. ” routine when MWA supported Tester, nothing but political expediency.

        Here’s the grits on this one: His campaign stance when he ran for legislature was that he was personally opposed but not supportive of public policy interference. I personally have high regard for people who oppose legal abortion on moral grounds, as it is certainly not a sacrament.

        It is not a clean issue, something that gives us that fresh feeling. It is a hard public policy choice, especially for people who find it morally repugnant on a personal level but understand the need for it in public policy. That takes grit. To prance around all women’s rightsy about it, speaking in euphemism as you do, never confronting the intense moral conflicts that men and women of character must face, trivializes both the man and the issue.


        • I suspect when NARAL scored Bohlinger’s votes in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they were not anticipating his bid for the Senate in 2014. Just a hunch. Look at his votes. For once, use facts. He voted for some of the worst possible anti-choice bills as a Legislator.

          Supporting my side of this argument is the opinion of experts who score reproductive votes, Bohlinger’s own statements, and his legal action on the issue.

          And you talk about political expediency? How about a person who has been pro-life his whole political life suddenly becoming pro-choice when he enters a Democratic primary? There certainly is some shame to throw around here.

          • I barely know the man Bohlinger, care about him even less. I realized after I put up my comment above yours that I was projecting myself on to him. I find abortion to be morally troubling, to say the least, but understand that in public policy, we must value women’s lives above those of the unborn. But that does not make it easy, nor does your trouble habit of reducing the issue to euphemisms.

            I do not trust voter tallies by interested groups. They are shortcuts, nothing more, and should (to quote Dorothy Parker) not be set aside lightly, but rather thrown with great force.

            • Why should we trust the people who devote their professional and personal energy to protecting reproductive rights? What could they possibly know?

              I understand that you see yourself as some kind of necessary contrarian, but this doesn’t even make sense. The man is an opportunist who only first spoke his support for reproductive rights after filing as a Democrat. I’ve looked. He’s never said it before.

              Surely even you can see what that means.

                • By the way, you deserved a serious answer there rather than a flippant one, just so you know I know that. I understand that people form groups and work their tails off on important issues, NARAL being one of many. (I’ve been involved in environmental ones for decades.) But scorecards are by definition reductionist and offer shortcuts to people who don’t have or won’t take time. A serious voter who has both time and inclination will ignore them and evaluate office holder behavior for herself.

              • Guys, abortion’s been legal since 1973 and Roe vs. Wade. This is not an issue.

                People like to make it seem like an issue, but it’s not – it’s legal. If you can’t do it in Montana you can do it somewhere else, but the Supreme Court says we can do it in Montana so it’s not an issue.

                If you want to spend your time yelling about detractor issues that’s fine, but those talking about economic concerns will trump you everyday of the week.

                Let’s see, a dead baby or a growling stomach that’s been giving me pain for a day, which do you think I care about more? When I don’t have money to put food on the table, even with two part-time jobs, what do you think I’m going to care about more?

                Open your eyes folks, or are you all just in income brackets so high that you can’t look down on reality from your lofty perches anymore?

                • Greg,
                  While I understand your argument about financial matters VS women’s rights, you are somewhat simplistic to dismiss concerns about women’s rights – even in Montana. Just look at what Ravalli County did recently. Abortion is still legal because of Roe VS Wade (though there are plenty of people that would like to see Roe VS Wade overturned), but that doesn’t stop the wingnuts from trying to get around Roe VS Wade. Texas is currently in a major legal battle because Gov Perry got a bill passed which effectively killed 19 of 20 clinics in the state that perform abortion. South Dakota has been on the verge of making abortion illegal for half a decade.

                  Abortion / Women’s rights may not be an issue for you, but it certainly is for other people. I will not likely dismiss anyone’s concern for those issues. Caring about financial issues doesn’t mean that they are the only issues we should be concerned with.

                • The keyword there is ‘trying.’ Let them spend their time on that while others spend theirs helping people with problems they face in their lives right now.

                  Personally, I let my wife decide what’s right for her and I’d urge all my constituents (if I had any) to do the same. I don’t like sleeping on the couch, and I’m not going to tell women what to do.

                  We’ve seen how well national candidates have done when the topic of women’s rights has come up. It makes me think major manufacturers will start coming out with shoe sizes that fit in mouths better.

                  I also don’t hear many poor people arguing about women’s rights. It’s usually rich people. Well, jeez folks, maybe if you wouldn’t cut off funding for assistance programs I wouldn’t have to get an abortion because I’d have enough money to raise my kids.

                  Again, these are people looking down from the clouds upon which they live, dictating their morale code onto everyone. Honey, if I wanted to go to church I would, I can find one every mile.

                  Yeah, I didn’t have to have sex, but you stopped teaching me how to do it without producing babies in health class. Now I’ll lose my fast food job because I have to have a baby. Guess I’ll have to get on social security for the rest of my life.

                  Women’s rights is a financial issue at its core. Kids cost money, and rich people are not lining up around the block to take care of these kids they didn’t want to abort.

                  Once they begin to put their money back where there mouth is I might listen to them. But for now they want to change laws that will create more problems than they solve, and they have no clear solutions to those problems. They don’t even know what these problems they’re creating are.

                  But I guess the rapture will come before we have to deal with that (hopefully, fingers crossed).

                • Politicians look for issues that divide us and for which they can campaign without accountability. It’s wedge politics, nothing but distraction. Campaign slogans about abortion, gun control or immigration, just three examples of wedge issues, have an immediate impact on voter behavior, and that’s all the candidates want. Their real constituencies, the financiers of their campaigns, care nothing about those issues, leaving them free to swing away without affecting real agendas.

                  That’s why we talk about abortion. It is safe ground for otherwise bought politicians.

    • As the article pointed out, it could be a lot more appts than that. Let’s say he does appt Walsh as the new US Senator. He has to then appt a Lt Governor. If he chooses someone from an elected position (say Monica Lindeen or Linda McCulloch), then he would have to appt someone to replace them. The same goes with the Judge positions he has to fill. Things could get interesting over the next three weeks.

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