Never miss a post. Subscribe today.

Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Run, Denise, Run

It’s old news now but I haven’t seen the blogs weigh in, so here goes.

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau (D), is contemplating a run for the U.S. House of Representatives.  I can’t think of a finer candidate to take on first-term Congressman Ryan Zinke (R).

She had a tight race in 2012, winning the OPI contest by just 2200 votes.  This could be an advantage, though, in 2016.  Her campaign team will analyze the strengths and weaknesses in her last race, and polish a strategy.

Zinke has raised a lot of money but also spent a lot of money, according to MTN’s Mike Dennison.  (I need to pay more attention to my MTN station now that Dennison is on board.)  Of the big donations – $200 or more – only 16 percent came from Montana. Currently, Zinke has about $750,000 in the campaign bank and $211,000 in outstanding debt.

Juneau cannot pull a Joe Biden and wait until the last minute to decide if she’s going to run. She needs to announce pronto and start campaigning, or step aside so someone else can run. I’m hoping it’s the former.

The Great Falls Tribune is running a poll on the 2016 U.S. House race.  It’s very unscientific but I don’t care.  Last I looked, Juneau had 60 percent to Zinke’s 40 percent.  Check it out and vote.

I’ll have more on this race and the candidates as it evolves.


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.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

  • I just voted. Zinke 71.4%……..Juneau 28.6% And I agree with you, these type of polls are so inaccurate that serious news sources shouldn’t even run them.

  • I’m not sold on Juneau. She nearly lost a seat that is almost a guaranteed lock for Democrats. Saying lessons can be learned doesn’t mean they will and Zinke will have a tailwind of money and name recognition.

    • Who do you think would make a better candidate? I can’t think of one. I don’t think the Welch race was illustrative of some weakness in Juneau’s campaigning. It was simply a matter of a race that was low priority for the media and voters against a candidate who simply didn’t say much. Zinke’s record will make him a much easier target.

      There’s no denying it will be a difficult challenge, and Zinke has to be considered the favorite, but DJ offers the best hope of winning this race. And, more importantly, she’d make a hell of a Congresswoman.

  • No Democrat should wait for Juneau to make a decision before deciding to take a run at Zinke. But the time to declare a candidacy is not now. It was the day after the 2014 general elections.

    For Montana’s Democrats, this is a low priority election and has been since Pat Williams retired, with the exception of Nancy Keenan’s run in 2000 when the seat was open after Rick Hill retired. A Democrat will need to raise at least four to five million dollars to have a chance of winning. That kind of money won’t be available unless the national Democratic party believes a Democrat can defeat Zinke, and I see no sign that the national party thinks that’s possible.

    Until late today I was not aware that Juneau had released a trial balloon, so I’m glad Pete picked up the story.

  • Thanks Pete for plugging this! Juneau is a terrific candidate and the closeness of her past races are not indicative of her strength. This is going to be a watershed year for voter turnout — more so that 2008 — so this year is the chance to take Zinke out.

    There is still plenty of time, mostly because James’s estimates about costs are too high. Sure she needs to raise more than Lewis did, but for Juneau to win she also needs to spend it smarter (on the grassroots efforts). I think this is a no-brainer for Juneau and expect her to do the Democrats proud!

  • Got an Email saying she is running. she has my “Full Support.” One of the only a handful of Politicians I know who sat down and talked to me at length about Elections and running! A real human being with great solutions!!!

  • I think she would learn just like Tracy Velasquez and the other female Dem candidates have learned, that the Powers-that-be in the Dem party won’t even pick up the phone when she calls wondering where her help is. They don’t want any more female Senators or Representatives other than the strong candidates they get stuck with from Dem strongholds. That being said, I encourage her to run – please send her a check today !

    • You’d be wrong again, Eric, on “they don’t want any more female Senators or Representatives … ” Women are our strong suit. There’s Lindeen, Juneau and McColloch in statewide offices. Let’s see: Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Keenan, former PSC Commissioner Gail Gutsche, former candidate for U.S. Senate Amanda Curtis (who gave millionaire Steve Daines a pretty good run, considering how late she got into the game) former Montana Senate Majority Leader Carol Williams, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out. And how many Montana Republican women in positions of power? Former Gov. Judy Martz is about the only one who comes to mind. How’d she work out for you?
      BTW, as soon as Juneau announces, I will be sending her a check.

      • Nancy Keenan, Tracy Velasquez, Amanda Curtis all tried running for a national seat. All had the same level of support from the Dems – slim to none. I heard a radio interview that Tracy Velasquez gave, where she said the same thing I just posted. In the Helena IR she acknowledged getting little more than ‘‘philosophical support” from her own party. Keenan fared no better, and the STATE Dems I think picked Amanda Curtis because if they had to pick someone to go down behind Walsh that they thought they were better off sacrificing somebody with no political future.

        • First, Anonymous, who I believe may be Eric but the comment didn’t register as such, there is a difference between national and state support. Nancy Keenan had both and if it hadn’t been for Rehberg’s slimy campaign, may have won that seat. Valesquez was a sacrificial lamb and, of course, the national party wasn’t to put resources into her campaign. I give her credit for putting her name on the ballot, nonetheless, and working hard. We’ll see if Curtis has a political future. I believe she does as she ran a competitive campaign considering how late she got into the race. The national party also didn’t plow any resources into her campaign (after the Walsh debacle) as there were other, tighter races that year. We’ll see her again and I predict a win.

Send this to a friend