Montana Politics

A small ‘d’ democratic convention

To me, this is democracy at its finest. No big donors or lobbyists or media swarms. It’s politics at the local level.

Last night, the Missoula County Democrats held their convention to select delegates to the state and then national convention.

About 80 people showed up at the Hellgate High School auditorium: split pretty evenly between the Sanders camp and Clinton supporters. There were perhaps a few more on Bernie’s side.

Missoula county voted 60 percent for Sanders and 36 percent for Clinton in last Tuesday’s primary. (One has to wonder who the four percent voted for.) By the party formula, that means Missoula gets to send 19 Bernie delegates to the state convention and Hillary gets 11.

The crowd was pretty much as you’d expect. More past and present elected officials and older, established Democrats in the Clinton delegation — more younger, political outliers in the Sanders contingent.

There was crossover, though: a few grayhairs (like me) with Sanders and some youngsters (that’s anyone under 30) with Clinton.

There was even a house divided: a Missoula County legislator on the Hillary side and her husband on the Bernie side.

I refer to them as “sides” because the auditorium was split down the middle. The Clinton camp caucusing and voting stage left and the Sanders crowd doing the same stage right.

This would be a much more exciting post if I could report a grand, fists-flying melee but everyone got along famously, with folks from both sides crossing over from time-to-time to chat.

Some other things I was proud of: Missoula County is sending more delegates to the state convention than any other county in Montana (take that, Yellowstone County) and then, just watching a small ‘d’ democratic process in action. It gives me renewed faith, at least at the local level, in party politics.

Of course, the further you get from the grassroots, the skankier things become.

I’ll post more from the state convention in Helena, which convenes tomorrow, and maybe from the national convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. Montana gets to send 27 delegates to national. Six of those are ‘superdelegates’ who have already been selected and the competition for the remaining 21 seats could be fierce. We’ll see what happens.

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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  • In Ravalli County is sending a full complement of our allotted Bernie delegates to the convention. We could only get one Clinton delegate.

    Bernie won in Big-Bad-Ravalli-County! I thought Missoula was supposed to be the liberal north – ha ha. Seriously though, in Ravalli County there is a widespread feeling of having been disenfranchised by the political machines – of both parties. Here Trump and Sanders supporters have a lot in common.
    Republican Sheriff Hoffman reluctantly ran for commissioner and delivered a resounding victory over the incumbent republican – a message to the Republicans to stop the machine politics that put our infamous treasurer in office simply because she was a republican precinct captain. The Democrats might want to pay attention to this.

    One problem we have is that access to the democratic convention was not available to some of the people who showed up or who expressed a willingness to go to the Helena convention because … money. As it is set up it is not a forum that is really available to the poor. The Democrats might want to pay attention to this.!FeeltheBern-in-Ravalli-County-Theres-a-new-sheriff-in-the-commission/n7wg6/57581d7d0cf2cc77abfc3274

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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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