Ignore The Manufactured, Faux Outrage about the Senate Appointment

Montana Republicans and certain conflicted Democratic strategists seem determined to gin up some controversy about the fact that Governor Bullock plans to do his legal duty and appoint a Senator to represent Montana following the departure of Max Baucus from the Senate. They’ve bought pathetic online ads criticizing the governor, had their Astroturf media outlets complain about the appointment, and spilled gallons of virtual ink, and acted with their typical respect for the democratic process.

Republicans have even gone so far as to create a web site that’s little more than a phishing scheme in the service of their faux outrage. That these Montana Republicans are decrying the influence of “D.C. insiders” while using the rhetoric of the National Republican Senate Committee in their smear campaign is an irony just a little too rich for the brain trust at the Republican Party headquarters.

That a party willing to endorse corporate personhood, traffic in dark money, and take illegal $500,000 campaign donations in the last weeks of a political campaign is calling for a transparent process is laughable on its face, but that anyone would take their complaints seriously is just sad.

The process, despite their protestations, is incredibly clear: the governor has the power (and obligation) to appoint a successor when there is a vacancy in the Senate. Montanans elected the governor knowing that one of his duties would be to make decisions like this. Montana is one of 36 states in which the governor appoints a successor to a Senate seat, which demonstrates two things: 1) most people agree that’s a more sensible approach than the enormous cost of a special election, and 2) that Republicans could have changed the law to mandate a special election.

The Republicans in the Legislature certainly haven’t been reticent to change Montana election law in the past few years: they’re working on ending same day voter registration, despite the anti-democratic nature of this aim, and they’re working to change our election process to exclude third party candidates from the November ballot. If Republicans had such deep concerns about the people being represented in Senate vacancies, they’ve had more than ample opportunity to change the law.

The Montana Republican Party isn’t interested in an “open process” when it comes to the Senate appointment: they’re interested in scoring partisan points by trying to discredit the actions of an elected Democratic governor replacing an elected Democratic Senator with a Democrat.

Along the way, they’re perfectly willing to smear a US Senator who has served the state in Washington since 1975. And that is the real outrage.

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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  • Spare me the crocodile tears Don.

    If a Republican Gov. had conspired with national party leaders to hold on to their Senate with a appointment you’d be screaming from the rooftops.

    Harkin, Waxman, and Max are all that are left of the watergate class of ’74. All are leaving.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • Wow. That’s really a catchy website you ReePubs have there, Ingie. I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to be saying though. Should Bullock appoint a Pubbie maybe? Or maybe ask the Kockh brothers for their choice? Would that make you fellas happy? There’s a HUGE silliness factor in all your whining. It’s unbecoming of fascists! Kinda hard to believe that ANY Pub is gonna buy into it. It’s just silly.

    • I think your side is the one engaging in crocodile tears. The only problem with your response is that it comes from the fantasy world of Republicans. There was no conspiracy here, no matter how loudly the NRSC and MT GOP bray that there was.

  • Wanted: Qualified individual to serve as Montana’s U.S. Senator due to a vacancy. Must be at least 30 years of age and able to fulfill “all constitutional requirements.” Ability to take direction and follow instructions required. Knowledge of Montana related issues a plus. Barack Obama and Harry Reid will conduct interview process. Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock will appoint based off their recommendation. Submit your application below.

    My favorite part; “Ability to take direction and follow instructions required.” The GOP needs to be clear that it is not interested in their Senator thinking for themselves.

  • That a party willing to endorse corporate personhood, traffic in dark money, and take illegal $500,000 campaign donations in the last weeks of a political campaign (!!!) is calling for a transparent process is laughable on its face, but that anyone would take their complaints seriously is just sad. (!!! added)

    You really don’t see that you could as easily be talking about your own party here. We need to study this, try to understand the makeup of the Democrat better., like your leaders have.

    But hey, Tester’s last minute dark money bailout was probably closer to a million, so there’s that difference. Republicans endorse corporate personhood, Democrats simply don’t do anything about it except whine, so there’s that.

    OK. There are differences.

      • I believe it is spelled “Koch.” The fact that you know their names ought to tell you something. But it doesn’t. Real power is quiet, never wanting to be known.

        Is Walsh a progressive? Is he even a liberal? Where does he stand on the issues of our day? Will he attempt to reform our health care system? Will he oppose new wars? Will he attempt to batten down Wall Street? Will he take on the surveillance state? Will he fight for our commons? Will he defend Social Security and Medicare? Will he seek to put Medicaid expansion in those states that have resisted? Will he support public works, public job creation? Will he seek to help our youth with their onerous student loans?

        Probably a big resounding “No!” on all of these matters, but here is the critical factor: Walsh is handed to you from up above, thereby disabling the system where a candidate has to campaign and gain traction by appealing to popular public sentiments. Thus is a democratic system undermined, and people of low quality installed in high office. More importantly, your party faithful imagine he was their idea by mere suggestion from above.

        What a farce!

        • Um, by the next election, he will have been vetted and he will have a record. Until then, guess we’ll have to trust Bullock’s judgement. Who knows? I certainly don’t, and neither do you. But you already have your knickers twisted! Hey, there you go. A name for your musical group, the Twisted Knickers! Feel free to use it.

          • Bushtit. He’ll turn out to be just another right wing Democrat, and you’ll be so afraid of the mean old Republicans that you’ll think he’s the cat’s meow.

            Man, I wish women were as easy as you. I would not have been a sexually frustrated teenager.

            New rule: All women must put out like Democrats!

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