I’ll try not to go off on too many tangents but there’s much to talk about.
First, we now know what kind of political coverage the five Lee Enterprises newspapers in Montana are going to offer: next to none. The Great Falls Tribune covered the convention as did the Bozeman Chronicle. The Chronicle is doing more political reporting these days, which is good to see, so I hope its coverage of the event wasn’t just because the convention was held in Bozeman.
Lee did a small piece or two on the Montana Republican Party Convention in June but that was in anticipation of bloodletting as the “moderates” and the tea party battled for supremacy. Since they didn’t smell blood at the Montana Democratic Party Convention, editors decided to cover goat auctions at various Montana fairs.
But there were some undercurrents at the Democratic convention. They seem to be ongoing and I point them out only because of my great affection for the party, and I hope they are addressed.
Urban v. Rural So, just where do you put your resources? You have limited money and man(and woman)power. Do you focus on the cities with the most Democratic votes: Billings, Missoula, Great Falls (and to a lesser extent Bozeman, Helena and Butte)? Or do you try to expand your base by doing work in rural areas?
Smart money says you go where the most votes are. But how does that make a small town Democrat feel? I know that delegates from Beaverhead, Lake and Rosebud counties, for example, would like a little bit more of the pie. They’re out knocking doors, raising money and making phone calls, too.
It’s a tough call and I don’t have the answer but I think that Billings will probably win out over, say, Broadus when it comes to the allocation of resources. I imagine the Republican Party has a similar problem.
Labor v. Everybody Else Organized labor is an integral part of the Democratic Party but it tends to be the 300 pound gorilla. The goals of labor are admirable and I’m a strong supporter, but not to the exclusion of other interest groups. I sometimes wonder if the 49 percent turnout in Missoula County for the 2014 midterm elections was because other constituencies didn’t feel represented by the Democratic Party.
(Note to the environmental community, of which I consider myself a part of: get involved — work for candidates, raise money for the party, become a precinct committeeman or woman — and you might get a few more seats at the table. Participation matters.)
Other Observations Sen. Jon Tester’s biggest round of applause came from his comments on the Iran nuclear treaty, which he supports. But he also gave a good deal of time to climate change, which I don’t believe gets enough attention from the party. He talked about this being one of the earliest harvests he’s ever had on his farm, and mentioned other ranchers and farmers getting their hay in weeks ahead of schedule. He’s seeing the effects of climate change first hand and getting passionate about it. Thank you, Sen. Tester.
Copperheads Nancy Keenan, the party’s executive director and Angela McClean, Montana’s lieutenant governor, hail from Anaconda. Jesse Laslovich is a candidate for state auditor and was a student of McClean’s at Anaconda High School. For a city of fewer than 10,000 people, that’s quite a pipeline. (Copperheads is the name of the high school teams – it’s not a slight.)
PSC Candidate Montana Public Service Commission’s District 3 has a candidate. Challenging incumbent Roger Koopman is Caron Cooper. It’s still early so who knows how the field will shake out but I heard Ms. Cooper speak at the convention and her credentials are impeccable. She has a PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, for starters. To say that she would be a better on the PSC than Koopman is an understatement. Here’s the link to her website.