Political Tidbits

Current Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction and Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Denise Juneau, received an endorsement from EMILY’s List.  This is not a surprise as she fits the bill perfectly.  As its mission statement points out: “EMILY’s List counts Diversity & Inclusion as a key goal of our organization … ”

EMILY’s List doesn’t support and fund campaigns that aren’t competitive, so this endorsement is important.  Details can be found at the Bozeman Chronicle‘s 406 website.  Juneau, who is also a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa Tribes, has recently garnered kudos for her success in increasing high school graduation rates.

In other public education news, did you know that it’s National School Choice Week? I’m not sure how I’m going to celebrate it but the headline in a guest column by Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy informed me of this auspicious occasion.  Laszloffy’s opinion piece advocates the spending of your tax dollars for teaching creationism, the intricacies of the Noah’s Ark story and discrimination against gay people.

It should be noted that Republican candidates Elsie Arntzen (running for the office of public instruction and a current state senator from Billings) and Greg Gianforte (running for governor out of Bozeman) hold similar views.

Speaking of Gianforte, perhaps there hasn’t been much said about his throwing down the campaign gauntlet because it’s such low-hanging fruit.  It’s pretty easy to say you won’t accept any PAC money when you’re a multimillionaire or billionaire.

For example, Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he wants super PACs who may back his campaign to return contributors’ money, although he apparently still panders to them.

Gianforte dropped by Gov. Steve Bullock’s office and taking a page out of The Donald’s playbook said he won’t take any PAC money and wants Bullock to sign a pledge not to take any, either.

Bullock, not being a multimillionaire and not wanting to raid his kids’ college fund, most likely will say no to the challenge.

Of course, the way we finance campaigns here in America in the 21st Century is disgusting — unlimited contributions, super PACs, dark money — and is undermining democracy. That being said, currently it is how the game is played and a legitimate candidate needs to raise money if he or she can’t self-fund.  Both the Flathead Memo and Montana Cowgirl did mention Gianforte’s ploy.

Fianally, I was saddened to see a shooting death in the Oregon standoff and was hoping it could be resolved peacefully.  However, in another Missoulian guest column, Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls) seems to be excusing the takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

While the occupiers cite the re-imprisonment of local ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond on arson charges as the reason for the standoff, the story runs much deeper. What’s really at the heart of this dispute is control over public lands, and Fielding has been carrying water for the American Lands Council, which advocates local control of federal lands, and she has advanced legislation to that effect.

Now I’m no fan of federal minimum sentencing guidelines but I don’t see the occupiers fighting for the rights of all the brown and black people imprisoned under those same guidelines.  They’re in a standoff over the government’s role in enforcing protections of our public lands.

Fielder says that this is an act of “civil disobedience.”  The last time I checked, civil disobedience didn’t include packing semi-automatic weapons.


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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.


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  • So PAC money is despicable, but if Bullock raises it it’s alright. After all, he’s facing a guy that became a billionaire after starting a business in his free time in a spare room of his house. When you’re faced with that kind of entrepreneurial success the best thing is to just throw in the towel and admit you need to raise a lot of money from PACs.

    That’s pretty much it, right? Bullock couldn’t refuse the PAC money even if he wanted to.

    If he did that he’d definitely lose.

    • Campaign finance reform could be the way to go: no more millionaires funding their own campaigns and no more big money PACs funding other candidates. Have you thought about that, Greg? I guess not but what a concept — real elections based on grassroots campaigns. You should write about it.

      • I personally feel that telling people what they can and can’t do with the money they made is not a good idea. If I made a billion dollars, why can’t I spend as much as I want to run for office?

        Maybe I’ve seen Brewster’s Millions a few too many times, but to me, America is a place where, if you make a ton of money, you should be able to use it to run for office.

        Lots of Democrats have done this in the past, as have Republicans. Kennedy used a lot of his dad’s money to run. FDR would have used a lot of the money he inherited.

        Again, I think it’s a bad idea to say, ‘you can make a lot of money, but you can’t spend it to get elected.’

        Maybe it’s just another sign of the death of the American Dream, however. I feel it takes a good bit of the incentive away from us to work hard.

        That’s one of the main messages of Gianforte – that we should work hard. I agree with that. I’ve been in enough workplaces where I’ve made up for the slacking-off of others to know that hard work is a good thing. I also know that not everyone is capable of it.

        It’s hard to start a business from a spare room. I know because I’ve done it. We need more of that perspective in the Democratic Party. I don’t really feel they want it, however.

        • “I personally feel that telling people what they can and can’t do with the money they made is not a good idea. If I made a billion dollars, why can’t I spend as much as I want to run for office?” says Strandberg. I agree, they can buy anything they want: yachts, mansions, Ferraris … just not elections.

          I’m a level playing field kind of guy, Greg. I’d like to see caps on contributions and expenditures. Contrary to what the conservative justices on the Supreme Court said, I do not believe that money = speech. A millionaire or billionaire should still be able to run for office but on the merits of his/her message and not on the size of his/her bank account.

          One has to wonder how many exceptional potential candidates are out there but won’t consider running because they aren’t millionaires or won’t kowtow to the super PACs.

          I remember in grade school teachers telling me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be: a governor, a senator, even President. Now, apparently, I also need to be a millionaire to run for high office (and have a chance at winning).

        • “We need more of that perspective in the Democratic Party.” I’ve seen OODLES of successful business persons involved in Democratic Party politics, Greg. Perhaps you aren’t looking closely enough. I believe that in order to make society a better place, an infrastructure needs to be in place (i.e. access to a solid public education, health care, working roads, etc.) which is crucial for people in a society to succeed. Unfortunately Giafornte and his ilk are for climbing the ladder and then pulling the rope up behind them. That ultimately, in my humble opinion, does us all injustice. Bullock’s got my 100% support in this election.

  • I heard that ms. uncle fester fielder is asking the guv to fly all blue tarps at half mast to honor her inbred idol, the recently DEEEE ceased, one mr. leeevoy fini cum! sniff. Sad, so sad. I feel ms. uncle fester fielder’s pain! Jensniffer and leee voy fini cum where SOUL mates! Kinda sucks to lose a soul mate that loved blue tarps! Makes one kinda blue!


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