Montana Politics

John Driscoll’s Candidacy Includes Support for the Ryan Budget, Not Social Security. Plutonium, Though? Covered.

John Driscoll is spoiling to spoil again, this time running, despite pledging to raise no money, against John Lewis for the Democratic nomination for Montana’s US House seat.

For those of you who don’t remember Driscoll, the last time he ran for the US Congress was back in 2008, when he surprisingly won the Democratic primary on name recognition, before mounting no campaign against Dennis Rehberg in the general. It got so bad that Driscoll ended up endorsing Rehberg for the race.

In his recent candidate profile for the Lee newspapers, Driscoll made it clear that he’s not a serious candidate, expressing a series of contradictory views that betray a deep disinterest in actual governance. Once again, Driscoll seems content to stir up some trouble to get attention, a trait that seems to be quite en vogue among elder Democratic statesmen in Montana.

He even considered running as a Republican in the House race.

Most troublingly, Driscoll is a supporter of the destructive Ryan budget, opposed by nearly every Democratic politician in the country. Driscoll told the Lee papers:

He said Congress must look at every possible way to reduce the federal deficit. He said he supports the general approach of Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan “without the rhetoric.”

The only thing good about the Ryan budget is its rhetoric, because no one opposes the idea of reducing deficits. As a policy, though, the Ryan budget is a complete disaster, devastating poor and middle class families, while extending irresponsible tax cuts to the richest Americans. Driscoll’s endorsement of a proposal too radical for the likes of Dennis Rehberg should disqualify from from consideration.

Another thing Driscoll seems to really love is shipping oil across the state, proposing not only to support the Keystone XL pipeline, but a second parallel pipeline from Sunburst to Los Angeles.  That route not only crosses the most beautiful part of Montana, Shelby, but a few little geographical obstacles like the Missouri River. Given the dangers we’ve already seen with leaking oil pipelines, surely adding another across Montana’s mighty Missouri is anything but environmentally responsible.

Along the way, Driscoll delves into minutiae like renaming the Montana Democratic Party and converting the mission of Malmstrom Air Force base into a plutonium vitrification site. That may well be, as Driscoll claims, a “cutting edge industry,” but I have a feeling that Montanans do not want to be the destination for weapons-grade plutonium for conversion.

Despite specific proposals like that, Driscoll dropped another bombshell on Montana voters: he hasn’t really thought about Social Security and Medicare.Driscoll said told the paper he hasn’t really looked into those programs:

As for Social Security and Medicare, Driscoll said some changes probably will be needed, but he hasn’t studied the issue fully yet.

I’d argue a real candidate for the US House would probably research programs that are critical for tens of thousands of Montanans before researching plutonium mitigation.

Montana Democrats got fooled by name recognition and a poor primary strategy back in 2008. Let’s not let it happen again this time. Winning a race against the presumptive GOP nominee Ryan Zinke, backed by millions from out of state donors, is going to be challenging enough, but impossible with a disinterested occasional Democrat with no real plan for Montana’s future.

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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  • This guy wants to use Interstate 15 as a pipeline corridor from Sunburst south. How many times does Interstate 15 cross the Missouri River from Helena to Great Falls?

  • If Lewis is a good candidate, why worry about Driscoll? If a phony democrat could beat Lewis, that doesn’t bear well for him. Then again, Lewis is pretty much a lost cause against Zinke as far as I can tell.

    And plutonium? Ever think that advocating Montana work to get the military to remove its nuclear missiles would be good? If we ever use them, the plutonium project would look like cupcakes. In the meantime, the nukes just make sure that the Russians have their crosshairs set on all the silos and Malmstrom.

  • Driscoll still supports the more than 30 years old proposal for the Northern Tier Pipeline. I doubt he ever heard of a pipeline he didn’t like.

    I think Driscoll has little chance of winning the primary, but his presence will force Lewis to spend money to win the primary, thus depleting Lewis’ resources and weakening him in the general election. In fact, I think that’s probably Driscoll’s plan. I think his top priority is defeating a Democrat. And that priority is pretty lowdown.

  • One would think that Driscoll doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell but then as you pointed out, primary voters gave him the nod in 2008 against the anointed Democratic candidate, Jim Hunt.

    Driscoll’s platform is bizarre, to say the least. And his campaign strategy is even stranger.

    Lewis, and Democrats statewide, really need to ramp things up to make sure Driscoll doesn’t get in through the backdoor again.

    • I agree. Driscoll is only a threat because of his name, not because of his ideas. He is definitely a spoiler. And I agree that the only reason he’s in this race is to prevent a Democratic from being elected to the US House. He is bitter and board.

      My suggestion: make sure your friends vote and make sure they vote for Lewis.

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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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