Montana Politics

More Political Tidbits

Rock stars are dropping like flies.  David Bowie, the Eagles’ Glen Frey and now the Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner.

Kantner also played, briefly, in one of my favorite bands, Hot Tuna.  So I went to YouTube to listen to some of his old tracks and what should appear but a 60-second TV spot for Republican candidate for governor, Greg Gianforte.  This might be considered bad product placement but I have to say it was a decent commercial: high production values, strong delivery by the candidate and a concise, albeit pandering, message.

Here’s a link to the commercial.

The spot’s title is “Bold” and the buzz words are “big, forward thinking ideas.” The problem for me is that his ideas are anything but big and forward thinking: his support for extractive industries that are on the way out, his views on education, the gutting of regulations for industry (including clean air and water) and government bashing in general.  Maybe we can all do tech start-ups in our basements and become millionaires but if not, c’est la vie.

I’m also wondering who produced the spot, always a bone of contention with me since I used to be in the business.  Democrats, that goes for you, too.  You better hire a Montana production company to produce your commercials, especially if you’re going to highlight “job creation.”  Gianforte’s spot had a lot of dolly moves and maybe some HMI lighting, which Montana production companies are capable of but also are the signature of L.A. commercial houses.  I couldn’t find an expenditure on his C-5, though.  On further investigation, !#*[email protected] Gianforte spent $28,500 at a Virginia firm for a “Video and Digital Shoot.”  I’ll bet a Montana company could produce a spot of the same or better quality for substantially less money.

I was wondering what happened to Brad Johnson.  He was the first Republican candidate to announce for the governor’s race.  He’s been passed over by his party in favor of Greg Gianforte and so has decided to withdraw.  As seems typical these days, MTN’s Mike Dennison broke the story.  I’d forgotten that Mark Perea, a long shot if ever there was one, had also filed as a Republican candidate.  That means Johnson won’t be needed to help Gianforte raise money for both the primary and general election.

MTN also broke Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s re-election bid.  No surprise in that announcement but what Dennison pointed out in a Tweet was that no Democratic candidate has filed for the position. Please, Democrats, don’t give Fox a free ride.

There was talk that Fox might have an opponent in the Republican primary.  Someone to Fox’s right, which would make that candidate very far-right, but no one has emerged yet.

In my neck of the woods, we have a contested Montana Public Service Commission Democratic primary.  Past PSC member and former state legislator Gail Gutsche has announced.  It’s District 4, and includes Granite, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders counties.

Former Deer Lodge County Commissioner Mark Sweeney, a Democrat, has already filed. Although incumbent Bob Lake hasn’t filed yet, the assumption is that he’ll be on the general election ballot facing the winner of the Democratic primary.

The often overlooked PSC races are of particular importance this year with the raging debate over Colstrip, and in Missoula, the sale of Mountain Water to … ?



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  • Pete, you mentioned Denise Juneau in a few of your previous posts. I would like to share a few more thoughts with you on Denise.

    It is always painful for the candidate and his/her supporters when embarrassing issues are revealed during an election. Denise has had one such issue come up recently and there is the possibility of one or two more issues being brought up in the course of this election. These personal and political revelations in “this” campaign may prove to be very beneficial to her political career in the future.
    The challenge many local level candidates face when they decide to run for the US House or US Senate is adapting to the level of scrutiny they face in a seat that has national attention. Events, decisions and misdeeds in their lives are often undiscovered or ignored in races further down the ballot. Congressional and Senate races however are subject to much greater attention and financial resources both at home and outside our state borders resulting in revelations that may have been forgotten, ignored or hidden. Walsh found this out in his race for the US Senate. There are many GOP and Democratic candidates who have had their promising campaigns sunk on long forgotten/buried embarrassing revelations.

    The key mistake all of these candidates make is their failure to get out ahead of negative news and take control of the issues. Sitting back and hoping a problem won’t be discovered while knowing an army of well financed and experienced operatives is researching every detail of your life is the worst strategy a candidate can take.

    Denise is (hopefully) learning this. The reality is, it is very unlikely Denise can unseat Zinke in the House race in 2016. However, this race, even though it may not be successful for her, provides her the opportunity to address past and current issues, build on her image as a person that should represent Montana voters in the US House or Senate, and gather support for another run. That opportunity may well materialize in 2018.

    If for some reason Tester decides to retire and not run for his Senate reelection, Denise is in good position to take on the race. If Tester runs (which I assume he will), then it is highly possible Zinke will be tapped to run for Tester’s seat which leaves an open House seat. With no incumbent, and assuming Denise has proven herself in this 2016 race, she would enter the race in a much stronger positon than she faces this year.

    Again, the key is for Denise to get out ahead of any negative revelations to help her define herself rather than sit back and let her opposition take the lead and possibly irreparably harm her future political career.

    While I disagree with many of Denise’s and her Party’s political issues, I like and respect her as a person and have admiration for her personal accomplishments. My friends who have worked with her talk about how smart and likeable she is. They also comment that she needs a lot of work on some of her political campaign skills for a Congressional race.

    • I’m sure Zinke is a saint and there’s nothing in his past that would cause him any embarrassment, like overblown SEAL accomplishments or campaign coordination with his super PAC (SOFA) or outing SEAL Team Six on killing Osama Bin Laden. That’s old news, I know, but the scrutiny you speak of cuts both ways.

      What I’m getting at is that I don’t believe Zinke has a lock on the seat. Yes, he’s the incumbent and has raised more money, but it’s still early. I hope there are debates that could really define the candidates.

      You could be correct that Juneau needs a little more campaign polish. But I don’t see Zinke as a great orator with a lot of charisma.

      What disturbs me most is that lapses in judgement in the distant past could keep superb candidates from running for office. Hypocrisy is one thing that I find inexcusable (a tough-on-drugs congressman busted for coke, as an example) but indiscretions while in college? I’m not sure I trust someone who claims they made no mistakes in their teens and 20s.

      On my own behalf, I’d like to mention that I didn’t pile on Rep. Rehberg and the Flathead Lake boat crash. Although perhaps some bad decision making, he wasn’t driving the boat or in control of the situation. And although elected officials should be held to a higher standard, perfection is unrealistic.

      I have to agree with James Conner that you’ve offered a bit of a backhanded compliment to Juneau but I appreciate the measured tone and interesting insights into potential future races.

    • Fascinating. One might think MEA-MFT might wait until filing closed before endorsing anyone. This could be interpreted as an attempt to discourage a Democrat from filing. The thought that a union would do such a thing is a mind boggler.

  • I did not know that, HighPoint. Thanks for the info. MEA-MFT probably has more knowledge into the inner workings of the Democratic Party hierarchy than I do. Still, this endorsement might warrant a future post.

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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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