Montana Politics

Three non-partisan reasons Bullock made the right choice

Governor Bullock made the right choice in selecting John Walsh to replace Max Baucus for Senate. It’s certainly the best strategic choice from a Democrat’s perspective – even Walsh’s opponents can see that. But there are three reasons it’s also the right choice from a non-partisan perspective.

1. Transparency: I’m hearing a lot about how ‘untransparent’ Bullock’s choice was, the implication being that he got a call from Washington/Zionist World Headquarters that told him he should choose Walsh. But Bullock already chose Walsh as his Lt. Gov and endorsed him as Senator, so there is nothing mysterious about making him a Senator. It would be strange indeed openly declare that you think he’s the best for the job of Senator, and then appoint someone who he apparently believes is not as a good a candidate as John Walsh.

2. Voter choice: The Montana constitution makes clear that Bullock has a responsibility to do something inherently undemocratic. It does not put him in a good position. But doesn’t it make sense to choose someone who, less than two years ago, was on a winning, statewide ticket? Think of it this way – Pat Williams, by comparison, won the approval of Montana voters….in 1994. It’s fully possible for a governor to abuse his or her power in this situation: choose someone Montanans would never elect, who is far to the left or simply holds too many uncomfortable positions. Bullock instead who Montanans are familiar with, who many of them had already considered voting for, and who very recently survived the rigors of a statewide election. Moreover, Walsh will face another election in November, at which point his behavior in the Senate will be scrutinized and judged. That’s a far more democratic decision that appointing an interim Senator who will never have to face voters.

3. Practicality: the Senate operates on favors and reciprocity. Someone who’ll be gone in a few months will have a hard time getting anything done in the Senate. Democrats have no reason to prioritize what’s best for Montana if the Senator representing Montana will be gone in a few months; Republicans will have every incentive to drag their feet and hope they have the ever-compliant Steve Daines to deal with come January. Walsh would enter in a position no worse than many other Senators, and would have added motivation to get something done to contrast himself with his almost inevitable opponent.

Note that none of these reasons are exclusive to one party or the other – they are reasons Walsh is not just right the right call for the Democratic Party, but also the right call for Montana

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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  • Rebuttal…

    1) It’s not the purpose of the appointment to choose a candidate. The purpose was to fill a void and choose a Montana representative who will pursue and protect Montana’s interests in the Senate. Walsh will now be in full campaign mode and will have little time for his REAL job. Just like his first vote, he will just rubber stamp legislation as per party direction to take.

    2) It’s hard to accept your suggestion that Walsh survived the rigors of statewide election. There was NO separate vote for him. He merely rode behind Bullock’s slip screen. Furthermore, in that election Walsh hid his reprimand where his leadership was called into question. It took a FOIA request to pry it out after the election. As to any suggestion that voters would have chosen Walsh anyway, the polls just don’t bare that out as Bohlinger was as popular or even more so. Harry Reid told Bohlinger that they already had their candidate and asked Bohlinger to drop out. Bullock saluted and pointed to Walsh.

    3) Any suggestion that the Senate, as a body, ever cares about Montana is ridiculous. Montana senators care and do what they can when they aren’t distracted by running for office. At this point we can only hope that Tester tells Walsh what to do. Walsh’s main priorities are to raise money and get elected. Guiding him in achieving the goals of those priorities will be the K Street, dark money experts at Hilltop Public Solutions that don’t a rip about Montana.

    • More on Bohlinger. What do you think the impact will be if Bohlinger doesn’t immediately endorse Walsh? Now if Bohlinger does endorse Walsh, will it be linked to some plum job either at the federal or state level? IF getting Walsh elected requires pacifying Bohlinger to get Bohlinger supporters on board as opposed to staying home, doesn’t that reveal just how weak this whole Baucus-Walsh two-step really is at reflecting the will of the people? All of this is about national Dem party politics and power, nothing more. Just ask Harry Reid, Hilltop political operatives, and Chuck Schumer as his Impact leadership PAC is funneling money to Walsh.

    • 1. Bullock didn’t endorse Walsh as a great candidate, he endorsed him as a great potential senator. If Bullock thinks Walsh would be a good Senator for six years, he ought to think the same thing about 11 months.

      2. It’s true Walsh wasn’t elected entirely in his own right. But neither was Bohlinger; Walsh was at least appointed in this decade, as a member of this party. There are very few people who meet those criteria. Denise Juneau comes to mind, and while I think she has great potential, I’m not sure she either wants the job or is in a position to fill it right now.

      3. You’re right, of course – the Senate as a body doesn’t care about Montana. They care about the votes of Montana’s Senators, and they will give to Montana exactly what our Senators’ votes can earn. If you are only possibly going to be in office for less than a year, your votes earn very little.

      You can even make a good argument that even Montana’s Senators don’t care about Montana as much as they care about getting re-elected. Every politician wants to be re-elected until he or she retires, and then get a ‘plum job’ (usually outside the government, actually) when they retire. For an interim Senator, on the other hand, the ONLY priority is landing a plum job after retirement. That’s the most important fact here: unlike any other potential appointee, Walsh has a strong incentive to represent Montana’s interests.

      You’re right that all this serves Democratic national politics, especially the Baucus appointment that got the gears moving. But that doesn’t change the fact that Walsh represents the best appointee to represent Montana, because he actually wants the job, is willing to run for it, and as a result will have a strong incentive to start from day one trying to gain Montana’s trust, rather than trying to translate 11 months of Senate votes into a good job (probably on a corporate board) somewhere else.

      • We don’t know what was in Bullock’s head as to why he made the selection he did. However, given the Harry Reid “facts of life,” we have our candidate news, I doubt seriously that Bullock came to the party fathers approved decision on his own through quiet reflection.

        As to your claim that Walsh was the best selection, how so? We don’t even know if Juneau was even asked? Did you read James Connor’s piece Walsh has been late to the party in defining himself as a democrat and where he stands on the issues. Dirk Adams his been quite impressive in that regard. Also like at his Issues positions. Meanwhile Walsh waited with his finger in the air.

          • Harry Reid? Too funny. But please, craig, since your so informed, sketch for us old Harry’s influence on Bullock! Sheesh. You guys are amazing. No really, you are!

        • The only two candidates who were running for Senate were Walsh and Bohlinger, and they were therefore the only two people who could serve in the Senate with any semblance of efficacy and any incentive to do what was right by most Montanans. Of them, Bullock had already declared that he preferred Walsh. ‘What was going on in his head’ requires no shady back room deals to explain. Choosing anyone else would be undemocratic (as that person would have no accountability to voters) and hypocritical (as he’d already endorsed Walsh as the man for e job). All things being equal, I would have far preferred to see Juneau sworn in, because I’ve seen the results of her professional work and I think she’s done a good job at every task shes’ been given. I also believe she’s the more progressive of the two. But in spite of these reasons (and, indeed, partially because of the latter one) I think Walsh was the best choice Bullock could have made in his situation.

          • Actually, Dirk Adams began running for the Senate before Walsh. Don’t know why you choose to ignore that fact.

            Now ask yourself, if it requires extreme effort to manufacture support and excitement for Walsh and fanciful narratives that he was the best possible selection as you and Don have demonstrated here, do you really think that’s going to sell the voters on “me too what the other guy said” Walsh? Walsh can’t inspire votes leading from the rear and sticking his finger in the air before taking focus group tested, Hilltop approved positions.

          • Sorry, I forgot Dirk Adams…again, Bullock had already thrown his weight behind Walsh; to appoint Adams or anyone else would have been a legitimately confusing, nontransparent move. (Adams sounds like a great guy and like he would be a great Senator, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that a man who is openly hostile to the development of Keystone XL or coal mining in MT represents the will of the Montanan people). So….main point still stands. Walsh was from the get-go the only reasonable choice. There’s nothing fanciful about that – choosing anyone else would put an unaccountable lame duck in the Senate. Walsh has given me little reason to get excited. Yet. But he has a chance to impress me if, rather than making statement with speeches and websites, he makes a statement by actually working in the Senate.

            • BTW, did you see the latest from Bullock claiming that the decision was his alone and he basically told Harry Reid to go to hell for interfering? Bullock received the party message
              and pressure, then attempts to save face by marking his terrority like a dog. Both smile as they hang up the phone. How convenient and utterly transparent.

  • Once again we have the has beens, the never weres and the never gonna bes arguing over the past.

    It’s no wonder few young people vote – who’d want to listen to this all day?

    Guys, let me give you some advice that won’t make you sound like nattering ninnies – offer concrete solutions to problems we face, not tired commentary and what’s been done.

  • 1) I have said it before. Democrats have a soup-line of sorts for Democratic process. Whoever has been a democrat longer. Bolinger does not fit that M.O. he didn’t go and ask the Democratic Party if he could run as a Democrat he just filed the papers paid the document fees and showed up as a democrat.

    2)From what I gleaned, by reading Republican Hoo-ha, Steve Daines isn’t popular enough to fill the senate seat, so they are making up crap about John Walsh to try and Damage him. Yep I will be voting for Walsh.

    3) I have also heard some disturbing BS about Dirk Adams from websites and Organizers in Montana that make me believe we don’t know enough this guy to even trust him. Apparently a bad Banker turned farmer? Read “Politico’s” little article here: I think the Dirk isn’t someone we should trust with our states money going forward. Rumor has it also Dirk supported Rick Hills Campaign against Steve Bullock. I am still looking for the little nugget of truth in Donation chart, but the sources I received this particular rumor from are pretty solid.

  • Will our news media come out and ask Bullock if he had conservations with the White House or their representatives over this decision?

    That to me would be responsible journalism.

    Forcing yes men to lie.

    • Inge, its an Appointment for a vacated seat. The Question should be. “Why did a previous Montana Republican controlled Legislature stop special elections for a vacated seat to that of Appointments?”

      Your making a mole hill into a Mountain, and your people are the ones who changed the rules.

      F aux whining??? Really? Bullock was well within the rules your side adopted and made law.

  • What would he have to say? He had already endorsed a candidate for Senate. Both Obama and Reid must have known from the beginning who was going to be appointed.

    • Something other than bald face political hubris. That doesn’t play well for Bullock or Walsh. Walsh is in deep trouble. Question is whether it will roll back on Bullock for the appointment and the transparent ruse.

      • Craig, you talk of a transparent ruse yet I see no backing for your claims. What you “think” has happened doesn’t make it so. Do you have any actual facts?

  • “Something other than bald face political hubris”. Hubris? Really, craigy? Do you even KNOW what that word means? I think not. Would you mind elucidating just a wee bit on your nonsense? How does a guv appointing a replacement senator equal hubris? You see, craigy, words do NOT mean what you WANT them to mean! Or even what you THINK they mean. Or even what you incorrectly im PLY them to mean! True story. Again, I think it’s all Greek to you, dude.

    • Apparently, you can’t fallow the conversation. PW remarked, “What would he have to say? ” To which I replied about Bullock claiming he told Reid to essentially go to hell by telling Reid that it was none of his damn business. Bald face political hubris was exactly what it was by Bullock as both he and Reid wink and smile as they hang up the phone. Remember it was Bohlinger that bowed his back after Reid told him that “they” had their candidate, John Walsh. BTW, Harry Reid’s Searchlight leadership PAC came in with a sizable donation to Walsh back in 2013 before the announcement.

    • Apparently you can’t follow the conversation. PW asked, “What would he have to say?” Got that, it’s about what Bullock said. To which I replied, “Something other than bald face political hubris” meaning Bullock’s claim that he told Reid that it was none of his damn business who he appoints.

      Can’t you just see the winks and smiles as they hung up the phones? Remember it was Bohlinger who bowed his back when he received his Reid phone call telling him that “they” already had their candidate, John Walsh. Did it occur to you that Harry Reid’s Seachlight Leadership PAC made a sizeable contribution to Walsh back in 2013?

      • Jeez Craig, a simple “I don’t have any facts to back up my allegations but I think I’m right” would have sufficed.

        • There were sooooo many ways Bullock could have answered an inquiry about talking to Reid, that he freely admits to. The false bravado of telling off the Senate Majority Leader just doesn’t ring true. That was for show as it was in noway in Montana’s best interests for Bullock to challenge and insult Reid. No doubt Bullock received input from a number of sources, as he should have. But for Walsh to selectively claim that he told Reid to butt out and announce it to the world was all about a display of false courage and bald face political hubris.

          • “No doubt Bullock received input from a number of sources, as he should have. But for Walsh to selectively claim that he told Reid to butt out and announce it to the world was all about a display of false courage and bald face political hubris.”

            Source please. For you see, in SPITE of your less than cogent testimony, I still have doubts! (testimony as opposed to actual argument) Just call me Thomas.

      • It’s an irrational theory, Craig. There is likely some political drama going on here,and much of it is for show, but it has no effect on reality. For the reasons I put above, Walsh was the only reasonable choice for the position.

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