Montana Politics

10,000 Reasons for John Bohlinger to Drop Out of the Senate Race

The campaign finance reports for the last quarter are out—and former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger has reported raising almost $10,000—a number that has to disqualify him from consideration as a serious Senate candidate. In contrast, his major primary opponent, current Lt. John Walsh, raised almost sixty times as much money, collecting $583,000. And lurking after the primary is Representative Steve Daines, who has almost $2 million sitting in his campaign coffers.

Bohlinger simply isn’t a viable candidate in that context. The truth is that he hasn’t even raised enough money for a competitive legislative race at this point, much less a statewide campaign.

I certainly believe that money has had a corrupting influence on American politics. There is far too much money influencing our elections and our politicians. We need to work to reduce its influence, without question.

But serious candidates need to be able to raise enough money to campaign, to connect with voters, and to pay for talented staff. And money measures something else: that a candidate has enough support to be considered for the office. Having raised less than  $10,000 means that John Bohlinger hasn’t connected well enough with Montana voters to find 500 people willing to throw him $20.

Decry the corrupting influence of money all you want, but a candidate who can’t find anyone willing to make even small donations is a candidate without a base of support. Having lived as a Republican, Independent, and Democrat in the past twelve months has simply made Mr. Bohlinger a candidate without a home.

Mr. Bohlinger says that he believes in Democratic principles now, and I take him at his word—even if I have some serious lingering doubts about his votes on issues critical to progressives in the past. But at this point, his campaign (one devoid of substantive issues, serious campaigning, or any real support) can only hurt those principles.

To date, the only thing the Bohlinger campaign is doing is providing campaign consultant Bob Brigham a slightly higher platform from which he can throw firebombs at Montana Democrats who don’t meet his exacting (if ever-changing) standards for liberalism. Day after day, the person who Bohlinger has entrusted with conveying his message endlessly repeats Republican talking points, unfairly and inaccurately attacking the viable Senate candidate, John Walsh.

If Mr. Bohlinger is serious about supporting Democratic values and policies, it’s time for him to step aside, endorse John Walsh, and disassociate himself with a flailing campaign consultant who is destroying Bohlinger’s legacy for decency just a bit more every day. It’s time for him to recognize that this isn’t a winnable race. It’s time for him to go back to being the John Bohlinger we all admired as a Lt. Governor.

There’s still good work for John Bohlinger to do: he can help the initiative to expand Medicaid in Montana; he can try to restore decency to the Republican Party; he can work to expand privacy protections. None of those goals, though, work for a Senate candidate with no chance of seeing the Senate.

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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  • Oh, I think he might as well stay in it until the primary. If he’s no threat to Walsh it shouldn’t hurt Walsh any. Cut all campaign staff and just keep the name on the ballot, giving more democrats an excuse to get to the ballots in June or mail in their ballot beginning in May.

    If he does pull out he’ll surely support Dirk Adams now and not Walsh. There’s got to be something he feels Walsh slighted him over, isn’t there?

      • Interesting that Adams sent his letter to LITW. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I’m surprised he didn’t send it to every political website in Montana. I would have published it.

      • Well I’m certainly much more interested in this guy Adams now, who I really have no idea about at all. I’ll have to do some research tonight.

        If anything it just makes it more likely Bullock will appoint Walsh, now that there’s this guy that could really energize a lot of people in the state. Before there was no real threat to Walsh, but just from what I’ve seen in the past day I’d say Adams has the potential to be a real and serious threat – until the primary at least.

        If he’s right and the democrats are trying to ignore him, boy, it’s going to be tough.

      • Oh, I read it. You are at once complaining that Bohlinger has no money and decrying a political system that has money as its mother’s milk. I sympathize. If you want to win in American politics, you must accept the euphemism “contributions.”.

        • You set out to urge Bohlinger out of the campaign because he’s not raised enough money. Realizing the potential swamp you were headed into, you quickly advised us that raising money is one of the defects of American politics, and that you did not like it. That said, you pushed forward with your ongoing support for Walsh, this time because he has raised so much more money than Bohlinger.

          And not a word about the source of his funds! You didn’t even check! Is he a Wall Street guy? Timber? (We have two if those already.) Oil? AHIP? (Baucus’s work there is done.) Trial lawyers? That’s an odd feature of your writing. You mentioned money but it never occurred to you to follow it.

          See. I comprehend pretty good.

          • The necessity to raise as much money as is required is a major defect of American politics. Asking someone to have enough support to raise the money necessary to run a campaign is more than fair. In the real world, where candidates care about winning elections, $10,000 is just about enough to wage a reasonable campaign for a Legislative House race.

                • The “Money” Definition is one of the most complex words there is Mark…. Don and Pogie are “Right on the “money” here, In fact, “For my “Money”you wouldn’t win this argument. Not unless you willing “To put your money where your Mouth is.”

                  I could go on and start explaining definitions, instead of Idioms and slang. but it is truly one of those words that doesn’t have to mean what it says, yet you still could be “in the money.” like any good horse race.

                • Not only do I know what money is, but also “obfuscation,” what you are trying to do.

                  It’s about “power,” or the ability to get other people to do your will. Money is not the only way, as there is also force and threats and extortion, not unusual as people who take office usually find it too easy to attain sex and then are entrapped, but let’s pretend that bribery is most common in politics. (There is also persuasion, rarely used.)

                  Corporations cannot contribute directly to candidates, though they can do black money now, as was done for Tester. There are limits on individual donations, so corporate executives “bundle,” because they know that individual donations have no power. But if 120 executives from, say, Wellpoint each give $2,000 to a candidate, now you’re talking power, and that’s how it works.

                  The power of that money now doubles, and is not $240,000, but rather $480,000, because the candidate knows that if he does not give the donors what they want, the money will go to fund an opponent. The money does not care about party affiliation.

                  That would be just one corporation flexing its muscles. Multiply it by 100,000. Compare that to, say, 100 individuals of varied background who each give $100, but don’t communicate with each other or bundle. That = no power. One, it’s not enough money to matter, and two, it carries no message. It’s just thrown at the wall.

                  That’s what I mean when I talk about money. Thus endeth the lesson.

                • And that’s exactly why the state legislatures need to get rid of that. If enough of them do that it might have an effect federally.

                  Does shaming dark money candidates work? Embarrassing them? Outspending them? Not playing their game?

                  How do we beat these leeches, these bottom feeders, ramoras on the republic, scum of the earth, vile sewer trash, despicable villainy, 21st century troglodytes, obtuse dingbats, and blind-as-a-mole nincompoops?

                  Anyone have any ideas?

                • You might want to consider this: Dark money cannot possibly be dark. The recipient has to know its source. If not, the money has no power. The only reason money is given in large quantities to politicians is to get something in return.

                  Ergo, Tester not only knows where his bailout money came in 2012, but that he has to perform services for the people who gave it to him.

                • By COPP. They made it clear to me a few weeks ago that if candidates know of or are involved with campaigning on their behalf they have to report it.

                  If they’re not doing that they’re breaking the law. It gets fuzzy with do you know about it though. I mean, yeah, I know if those ads are on TV, but that doesn’t mean I put it there.

                  Still, I think they’re doing their job somewhat as we’re reading about a lot of people in the state with contribution problems.

                  I’ve raised $1,280 for my campaign and I’ve reported every penny earned and spent. It’s not real difficult to play by the rules. It also makes winning seem a lot more special, and better-tasting as well.

                • I don’t understand how one such as you, who prattles on endlessly about political matters, can know so little about your professed area of expertise. You know nothing of money or the workings of power, yet pretend to understand politics. This is why I skip over your comments.

                • Mark. your explanations of anything political are always centered on greed and Largess first. As with anything you say, Your explanations are Always extreme exceptions, Bizarre incidents Conspiracy laden responses about Government and candidates.

                  I Grant you some craziness does occur in Government from time to time. but Democracy and principled morality in America isn’t unraveling at the seams anytime soon.

                  As the old farming quote of a couple of bad apples might imply. I just looks for the bad apples — unwilling to throw the rest of the bushel out like you would.

                • How old are you anyway? Fifties? How can you have lived that long and absorbed so little? Your first clue should be that elections don’t change policies unless they are very close to home. Your second should be that people who give large amounts of money to politicians are not altruistic. Your third should be that 95% of all political contributions come from the 1%. Fourth: the same people switch back and forth between parties as the winds blow. (They knew the public had had enough of Bush, and so gave you Obama.)

                  But all of that blows right by you! You are lost in your Pollyanna land where politicians take money from the big guns so that they can take care of the little people. Grow up! And observe. You are clueless.

                  And no, the country is not coming apart at the seams. It runs as it is intended to run. It is corrupt as hell, always has been.

  • It does help when you have DC running your campaign fundraising. Walsh has over $100k just from Massachusetts aggregator ActBlue alone. So your assertion that Bohlinger hasn’t found “500 Montanans,” probably doesn’t matter much when you can get the kids in DC to pander to the other 49 states for your coffers for much, much more.

    • You know that Act Blue is a mechanism for individuals to donate, right? Presumably, you also know (given your profound political expertise) that John Bohlinger also is using an online service to raise money.

      The difference is that Walsh has raised some. We can certainly debate the merits of sources of campaign funding (and I’d love to talk about the GOP candidate for the House and Senate in that regard) but the simple fact is that John Bohlinger has no support.

      • The about face from you on Bohlinger is just beyond transparent. Search your blog for mentions of Bohlinger before he announced, and it’s nice things like posing with Brian Schweitzer to fight corporate contributions in elections.

        The minute anyone doesn’t pave a level path for your manchurian candidate to march into the election, and you become an unreasonable, foaming at the mouth rabid attack dog on a guy who served 2 terms under a Democratic administration. The guy served faithfully for 8+ years, and you’re dumping him over the cliff for a political unknown because you like his army digs and he’ll say he’s in favor of the things his DC consulting firm tells him to. My oh my, what character! At least now we know that electability will always trump any past service or ideology.

        I would hate to say anything about party loyalty, but then again you are shipping a 70 year old man to China after 36 years of service to bump up a Senate race by a few points *shrug*.

        • Max will do fine Tim. Baucus does speak chinese better than most. The Chinese really like Baucus, and he does know how to put together an excellent senate house staff. Secondly, it will favor our state. I think Baucus wanted this appointment, he got a lot done between China in the white House besides business. He has a very Fair belief system for helping others no matter their skin color. Our American Indians throughout the USA have praised him, and his staff for getting things through for them.

          I think he is the right guy for the job, he has always shone himself as firm but fair.

            • That’s not what he said. He said that he’s “not an expert,” a refreshing view from a politician. I’m reasonably sure that most ambassadors are not “experts” on the countries they serve in, but use their judgment and staff to represent the views of the United States.

              • Yes his exact quote was, “I’m No Real Expert On China…” Don’t believe that’s a meaningful difference. With all of the tensions between China and it’s neighbors, their rising military might, etc., etc., why does Obama not send a China professional from business or academia? What a joke.

                • From my 5 years over there, I’d say both of those things wouldn’t be too effective.

                  Businessmen on the ground over there are frustrated more often than not by how the Chinese do business. Someone from a large business might have more luck but then I’d just worry about corruption.

                  Academics aren’t really trusted over there, in my opinion. I don’t think many of them have a firm grasp of the country from studying out of their offices, either.

                  Thankfully the State Department has good staff in that country that know how to do their job regardless of who’s signing the paperwork.

                • No like Pogie I find it a good truthful answer in a time, when we need a guy who knows how screwed up, our politics are on this side of the isle.

                  Max already knows where their money is in our government. he has a handle on how much we owe and where we can exchange goods to cut down the debt without giving away the governments secrets.

                  Come on Craig hes been part of the banking committee for years. Obama with Max’s help has already cut our debts by half in 8 years.

                  I see a plan brewing here financially to get rid of the debt we owe China. We are still the best in clean air technology, since republicans and some Democrats wont let us use it here in its entirety, because of ties to big oil and gas… I see us helping them with it there. I don’t see how you cant see it……

                • By the way the only way China is gonna get the whole Keystone pipeline through America is only after Max secures funds from them to keep it safe here. They gave the Canadians over 8 billion to see if Tar sands are a Viable product…. how much do you think they will pay us to keep it safe, and develop technologies to make it cleaner?

        • Your characterization of my posts on Bohlinger is about as accurate as your view of contemporary politics in general. For the most part, I have written very little about John Bohlinger, because he was a non-entity during the Schweitzer administration. He was nice guy, sure, but he didn’t do much.

          My criticism of Mr. Bohlinger has really been focused on two issues: he’s either lying about his beliefs or has radically altered many of them without explanation and his campaign is running interference for Steve Daines, not helping Democratic principles. And now he’s added a third element: he’s completely un-electable because he can’t raise any money.

          Some day, maybe, your command of facts will match your irrational, kind of absurd anger. But it’s not this day.

  • Raising money, by stumping is actually okay by me. It gives the public a chance to see a candidate talk about the issues…. and pay what they want. So is by party stomping or some service like “Act Blue”

    In all actuality if a candidate was stumping, Id like to see a corporate board be present in its entirety there at the event to give a candidate money. No more bundlers either. Id like that just fine instead of secret wire transfers and superPacs. If they want to keep Citizens United, I would at least want a human face attached to every donation. Bring your own checks, should be just like BYOB.

    Brick and Motor institutions need not apply.

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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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