The Sad End of Brigham/Bohlinger Senate Campaign

The last pathetic remnants of the disastrous BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign for the U.S. Senate came crashing to Earth today in a sadly anti-climactic conclusion, but it’s worth revisiting for future political candidates when they hire political consultants with no idea how to run a campaign.

Back in December, despite having no money to campaign, the BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign decided to spend its time pursuing an amendment to the Montana Constitution campaign to run concurrently with its election effort. At that time, political observers in Montana questioned the sincerity and syntax of the campaign for privacy. I described it as a proposal likely “scrawled on the back of a napkin in a Helena coffee shop before being rushed over to the Montana Secretary of State and the political media for another moment in the spotlight, but it certainly wasn’t vetted, wasn’t researched, and wasn’t even written well.”

In typically understated fashion, Bohlinger strategist Bob Brigham claimed that the initiative would not only win voters but “create a turnout model” to give Governor Bulllock a better Legislature in 2015.  To some extent, the strategy worked–Bohlinger got an enormous amount of free press for his proposal, which was, of course, its only purpose all along.


Well, the results were made available today and the Secretary of State revealed the total number of signatures for each of the ballot proposals. The BRIGHAM/Bohlinger Privacy Amendment had zero. Not Bohlinger, not Brigham, not anyone.

I took some flak from the more high-minded members of the Montana blogging community for my criticism of the cynicism of the BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign, but the the today’s results are just the final piece of evidence that this campaign was never about protecting privacy or reproductive rights or anything else: it was simply the manifestation of someone’s bitterness about being excluded from the Montana political establishment and a candidate he found to exploit along the way.

There are probably a few lessons here for the political press, too. It’s one thing for a tried advocate to announce an initiative campaign and fail. It’s quite another for a cynical political campaign to use one for free media exposure, and perhaps the press ought to wait for the next candidate and his strategist to gather as many as 100 signatures before they give it coverage.

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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  • Fair enough, I guess. I do not understand how your whole life can be wrapped up in election outcomes, as the months between elections indicate that the election don’t change anything. But this is your thing, like some people lake to makes lists of birds they have seen and others collect those little spoons with city names on them, and still others china dolls. Whatev …

  • I think Don you and I both took a lot of flak from not only the campaign supporters, but from Bob as well. Glad to see we were right, and I actually feel sorry for Bolinger he was duped  by a hack. Haven’t liked Bob since he spun his back on Medical Maryjane folks years ago… this just goes to show how egotistical a BSer he always was!

  • dpogreba MarkTokarski I can read people via their words, Don, and you’re just not that hard to understand. Your words are a window to your intellect and emotions. This is true of all of us. You are not a complex man, by the way. There are but a couple of thin layers to this onion.

  • The Snowden documents showed how critical it is to update our Constitution’s privacy protections for the digital age, this was just round one. 

    As happened to all strategic ideas, this was buzzsawed by the Culture of Corruption. But it got great a great response in town after town across Montana.

    There is now nothing on the statewide ballot to draw progressive voters to the polls. The Culture of Corruption’s decisions are going to be devastating for down ticket Democrats.

    Luckily, within the expected victors of the battle for the control of the legislature are a number of Young Republicans who care about digital privacy. It will be a loss for Democrats when they get the credit, but it will be a win for Montana.

    The Snowden documents were a wake up call. Things need to change. Even if the GOP Young Guns get the credit for winning the issue in spite of your opposition.

  • BobBrigham Your equating yourself to Snowden????? LOL Bwahahahaha. 

    You lied to the voters Bob! Plain and simple… You yelled fire on top of a story that is unraveling daily. You used peoples fear to tell a lie and promote a campaign…. In which you would have done nothing to help Montanans.

    Do you not see that, or are you like the other Idiot don wrote about that hasn’t the intellect for self examination Either????

  • BobBrigham Plenty of prism proof phone apps out there that are free. Red phone, Ostel, Redline. 

    The key to having an NSA-proof phone is to always use end-to-end encryption. What this means is that all data is first encrypted on the device before it is sent off and decrypted by the receiving device. Using apps designed for this purpose will avoid servers that can forward the data along to the NSA.

    If I am just talking to my friends and family, who are all good citizens themselves why would I bother

  • BobBrigham Let’s pretend your premise is true, that a privacy initiative that you and Bohlinger presented, would have brought progressives to the polls? Who’s damn fault is it that you didn’t submit any signatures? You can’t blame the governor for that one. You claimed in the press that the Bohlinger campaign could effectively mount a run for the Senate and gather enough signatures for the initiative. 

    What happened?

  • dpogreba BobBrigham What do you mean, “What happened?”
    The White House was corrupt enough to sacrifice US-Sino relations and the governor was corrupt enough to go along with their scheme. Once the fix was in for the appointment, the fix was in for the cycle. This was collateral damage, the reputation of MDP was collateral damage and so was the outcome of legislative races.
    Don, you seem to have a really tough time understanding how pivotal events change dynamics. Had the level playing field not been corrupted, running for senate would have been easier while concurrently pushing the initiative. After the appointment, neither was feasible.
    At least the governor is happy he got Walsh off the ballot. He is intelligent enough to realize major events have major repercussions. For instance, John Walsh’s electability after the release of the IG Report.
    While this governor may have been able to veto Dem’s holding the senate seat and digital privacy making the ballot, he doesn’t get a say if it’s put on the ballot by legislative referendum. And with how bad this year’s legislative races are going, that may not require a single Democrat vote.
    But hopefully this will be like the opposition to REAL ID and be passed almost unanimously. There is no excuse for opposing digital privacy.
    Digital privacy is supported by grassroots Democrats and grassroots Republicans, from the west and the east, urban and rural. In fact, the only people who oppose it are people who have no business in elected office. For that reveal alone, it’s a priceless issue.

  • BobBrigham dpogreba Pardon me for the confusion. Was the level playing “corrupted” after you called for Governor Bullock to appoint John Walsh to the Senate or before? That always confuses me, because I can’t imagine a person could possibly be that cynical.

    And perhaps you can answer this question: how many signatures did you and Bohlinger collect? Given your contention that it was part of a broad movement of “grassroots Democrats and grassroots Republicans” from all over the state, I would guess it would have been pretty damn easy to get more than zero signatures.

    Zero. Not one.

  • dpogreba BobBrigham Don, I said the governor should appoint Walsh when nobody else was interested in winning the seat. Then we got a better candidate. My suggestion of using the full power of the office to beat Republicans was not the action of the governor, who used his office to fight Democrats. Again, major events have major repercussions.
    And I know you aren’t very savvy, but there’s no point in making the list public if it isn’t going to make the ballot. That is why nobody — left or right — turns in signatures when they know they aren’t going to make the ballot.
    This is all so simple, yet seems so very confusing to you. It’s like talking to a child and I have better things to do.

  • BobBrigham dpogreba I do appreciate the laugh. It’s genuinely funny to read your nonsense, whether it was your flip flop on a special session for Medicaid, the Senate appointment, or any of the rest. You don’t honestly expect anyone to believe your cynical, sad opportunism is strategy, do you? Please tell me you don’t.

    Given my childish idiocy, I still don’t understand how such a broadly popular initiative couldn’t meet the threshold of signatures required to be on the ballot? I’ll stop mocking you for having zero signatures, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were under 100.

  • MarkTokarski dpogreba Who is more of a bore? The person who writes a “partisan yawn fest” or the tool who keeps reading it?

    You need some hobbies, man.

  • dpogreba MarkTokarski You know even less of me than you do of politics. But that’s an aside. I commented here because you linked to a post I wrote.

  • MarkTokarski dpogreba First off, it’s rude to plagiarize my insults. Second, do you have any idea how many comments you’ve left over here during the past nine years? I think you might have a problem.

  • dpogreba BobBrigham Your “mind” seems entirely unable to sequence steps. You don’t seem to understand how events change dynamics.
    After the governor blew it on expanding Medicaid in the regular session, the only plan with a chance was to use the initiative (and the Bakken Aid trade) to expand Medicaid in a Special Session. Calling a Special Session without the leverage of a Ballot Initiative wouldn’t have expanded Medicaid, it would have blown the money on an insurance industry bailout (Arkansas model). Not calling a Special Session after the initiative was a sign the Governor just didn’t care about expanding Medicaid. Which he reinforced when he feigned incompetence in explaining why the sitting Governor couldn’t get something on the ballot.
    Hundreds of Montanans have died due to Steve Bullock’s cowardice. Another 25 die every month. 
    Don, you should be ashamed of your role in this. Simply ashamed.

  • dpogreba MarkTokarski Oh please, you don’t give a rat’s ass how much I comment. You don’t give a rat’s ass that I repeat a theme. You simply do not like the content of my comments becauue I equate Democrats with Republicans, and you like to think that your party is morally and intellectually superior. That theme undermines your claim to intellectual and moral superiority, which you do not have, but I repeat myself.

    If I blew smoke up your ass, you’d have me doing guest pieces.

  • Mr Brigham: Neither party cares if progressives vote in general elections. They are only called upon to vote in Democratic primaries, and then re-shelved. In the meantime, the elections are won by a majority of those who care enough to vote for a (perceived) lesser evil.
    It would like to see party designations removed from ballots as a start towards much needed reform. But until private money is removed, there is no hope for change.

  • Everyone does, Don, you especially. You’re like a fireplug … Take off that cap, what do we expect? Ranch dressing, or Democrats good Republicans not?
    I have communicated with you offline one time, just to tell you your tweets are dumb too.

  • MarkTokarski  You can argue the merits of the post or not. If you can’t, I’ll give you another timeout.

    I’ll be happy to link to your blog so people can read ALL POLITICIANS ARE BAD in all of its nuance at their leisure.

    You make conversation, debate, and discussion here impossible. I should have banned you years ago. I regret not doing that, but I’m happy to give you one last chance.

    • Actually, I don’t particularly care. I just want you give you a chance. Given your belief about your intellect and insight, surely you can do better.

      He’s working and living. I’m sure he’ll write again when he has a chance.

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