Montana Politics

Does John Bohlinger Still Support A Sales Tax, Prayer in Schools, the Death Penalty, and Marriage Discrimination?

In the past, we’ve looked at former Republican John Bohlinger’s troubling record on reproductive rights (lifetime 17% rating from pro-choiceliberal-v.-conservative organizations), organized labor, and his commitment to the Republican Party, including candidates like John McCain. Although his campaign staff keeps suggesting that the Bohlinger campaign will be issue-based, other than a few state issues, it has almost entirely been about attacking the record of the John Walsh, the Democrat in the race.

Despite Bohlinger’s effort to position himself as the progressive in the Senate race, his campaign web site has listed “the issues” as “coming soon” since the opening of his campaign—and his previous record as a Legislator suggests that he was anything but a progressive.

After the 1998 session in the Montana Legislature, Bohlinger stopped answering questions for Project Vote Smart’s Political Courage Test, but his answers then are illuminating and suggest a candidate who held some troubling views. To be sure, Bohlinger was no reactionary member of the TEA Party, but he certainly wasn’t a progressive. I’d say it’s time for a candidate who wants to be issue-based to explain if his views on these policies has changed, and when, and why.

On taxation, does John Bohlinger still support the imposition of a regressive sales tax roundly and repeatedly opposed by Montana voters? Back then, he wrote:

When elected to the State Senate, I will introduce legislation that will constitutionally eliminate taxes on ones dwelling place, not commercial properties. I will eliminate taxes on business equipment, in another bill and replace the lost revenue to State Government with a 4% retail sales tax–the sales tax bill will omit from taxation food items purchased in grocery stores and drugs.

On abortion rights, does John Bohlinger still believe that:

  • abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy?
  • the government should prohibit the late-term abortion procedure known as “partial-birth” abortion?
  • Montana government funding should not be provided to clinics and medical facilities that provides abortion services?

On crime, does John Bohlinger still believe the government should:

  • expand the use of the death penalty for additional circumstances relating to murder?
  • impose the death penalty?
  • strengthen penalties and sentences for drug-related crimes?

On education, does John Bohlinger still endorse teacher-led voluntary prayer in public schools?

On budget matters, does John Bohlinger still plan to support:

  • an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring an annual balanced federal budget?  (Progressives generally believe this would be disastrous for the safety net and Social Security)
  • “greatly decreasing” the capital gains tax rate?

On human rights, does John Bohlinger still oppose same-sex marriages?

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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  • Why don’t you just admit you’re all in with Walsh? Despite all the bad press surrounding him and misusing government time and resources, the only posts I’ve seen about Walsh have been reposting his campaign video (such a critical thinker, you!) and BS praising him.

    If you have no trouble getting behind the DC decided, bought and paid for candidate, by all means! But at least be honest about it. You’re supporting the guy with dark money ties, DC consulting group, DC campaign manager, DC finance director who got all the big endorsements before filing was even open a week! For the record though, wasn’t Tester also the “outsider” not Democratic establishment approved candidate this far into the election cycle in ’06? Just odd you’re so gung ho defending the guy when even Tester was in the paper saying he didn’t know what Walsh stood for.

    • I recognize why you would support Walsh at this point (Bohlinger continues to bury himself every time he opens his mouth) but there is some truth to what Tim is saying. Walsh is running a non-existent campaign – so much so that even solid Democrats like James Conner is talking about it. For those of us in the middle, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of choice and this race is looking over before it begins. Even if Walsh goes to Washington at this point, I am not convinced that he win against Daines unless he REALLY starts to campaign.

      • I keep hearing that Walsh isn’t running a campaign, but I think I am hearing it from people who aren’t looking very hard. I get frequent e-mails from the Walsh campaign on budget and other issues.

        Just because John Bohlinger is getting some free press doesn’t mean he’s campaigning. He’s not raising any money,which might come in handy in a general election.

        The truth is that the average Montanan is nowhere near interested in this race. There’s plenty of time for these candidates to define themselves.

        • Don, you know I am plugged in as much as any blogger in Montana and probably a lot more than most voters. I have only received three emails from Walsh’s “campaign” that weren’t begging for money. He has no presence on social media and other than the Army scandal, I haven’t seen a lot out of him in the press. He has no campaign site (at least not one that deserves the name) and he still hasn’t defined himself in terms of issues.

          I would argue that it is long past time for Walsh to be running a campaign. Bohlinger certainly is as is Daines.

          • You’re not as plugged in as I am, I guess. I’ve received FIVE campaign (not fundraising) e-mails from John Walsh’s campaign since January 20. Five in three days.

            I’ve received 18 since January 9th.

          • This talk about campaign web sites is also largely nonsense. None of the candidates for the US House or US Senate have substantive web pages up. None of them.

            There are a couple of simple reasons for that: almost no one is paying attention to these races and their campaign managers don’t think they’ll be useful at this point.

            To single out one candidate for having a poor web site is willful ignorance.

            • Willful ignorance???

              I agree with James Connor.

              Still no serious Walsh campaign website

              Walsh, incidentally, still doesn’t have a website worthy of a campaign for the U.S. Senate. It’s still a one-pager with a photo of Walsh with his head in the clouds that asks visitors for their contact information and money. And that’s all it does. It’s an egregious abdication of Walsh’s responsibility to present the voters with his stands on the issues.

              You write post after post attacking Daines, Zinke, and Bohlinger and question their stand on issues. But you provide nothing on Walsh’s positions and his website certainly doesn’t. Why is that?

              • I think a blog post called “Stuff I Agree with John Walsh About” might not make interesting reading.

                The purpose of blogs is to critique more than anything else. The people you’ve mentioned make it easy. As for Walsh specifically, he’s not come out against abortion rights, unions, the minimum wage, or secular school instruction. If he did, I would be as critical of him.

  • I, like Don have been getting emails almost every third day from Walsh. And in them I find he has very fine staff already. Seems he has partnered already with Kirsten Gillibrand, to make sure sexual assault is handled in civilian courts. and he is praised by some of the most important democratic senators in our government.

    That’s where the whining comes in from Bolinger, giving Max’s seat to Walsh, isn’t what he is crying about. Its not the head start for Walsh, it’s because real liberals haven’t embraced Bolinger…… at all. Brian conversations with the press are for Walsh’s benefit not Bolinger folks. People want a leader, not a man who merely mimics the issues of the day in Brian’s administration. John Walsh is that man, not John Bolinger.

    Walsh will be part of the Elizabeth Warren side of populism, a place Bolinger cant reach because he has already proven he is not for the people. You cant paint a elephant in the room white and call him a donkey. That was demonstrated with Brian’s administration. He has always been a follower here… only a parrot for Brian’s agenda.

    Lastly if he thinks Hiring an Independent knucklehead like Bob brigham who only attacks people everyday is doing some good…… Bolinger is really out of touch!

  • YIKES! Guess that HE won’t be gettin’ the BKCC, the Big Kochk Christmas Card this year! And neither will I, so what the hell! Ladies and gentlemen, Neil Young!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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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