Montana Politics US Politics

Montana Democratic Convention, Bernie style

It wouldn’t be politics if things didn’t sometimes get bizarre.

At the Bernie Sanders caucus, a rumor spread that he had actually won California in a recount. Cheers and shouts and much revelry ensued. Skeptics, like me, searched our iPhones for verification and, of course, found none. Breaking the fact that this was viral faux news met with much disappointment. But one optimistic delegate said of the outburst, it was “great practice for the national convention.”

You have to love that sort of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, disappointment is a big part of progressive politics; like the tears that welled up in one young volunteer’s eyes when she learned that she wasn’t selected as a delegate. She truly believed she could sway enough ‘superdelegates’ to get Sanders nominated and then elected President.

Some background: yesterday was the Montana Democratic Party’s convention to elect delegates to July’s national convention in Philadelphia. It was split into four camps – Sanders people from Eastern and Western Montana, and Clinton people from the same two regions.

The biggest contingent, or caucus, was the Western Montana Bernie supporters. Numbering around 100, it had close to 30 candidates for only four seats.

Next was the Eastern Montana Bernie caucus with 40 members and 15 candidates vying for four spots.

I can’t really give you the numbers for the Hillary caucuses because I’d committed to Bernie and the Clinton folks were in a different area at the convention. It wasn’t as big a crowd, though, and based on last Tuesday’s Montana primary election results, they received one less delegate than Sanders to send to national.

Here’s some stream of consciousness from the Western Montana Sanders caucus:

Missoula sent the most folks but there were representatives from Arlee and St. Ignatius, Butte, Dillon, the Flathead, the Bitterroot and even Sanders County … Decent diversity in the form of tribal members, disabled, LGBT and the working poor … A number of veterans and many youngsters (people under 30) in the crowd … Issues ranging from foreign policy, climate change and a living wage to campaign finance reform and voting rights …

And here are some quotes:

“We can get the superdelgates to reconsider.”

“Every Bernie platform issue is a plank in my life”

“This is the best I’ve felt about politics in a long time.”

“Let’s restore the Democratic Party.”

“This is a turning point in our lives.”

And one quote that came from John Driscoll, a former legislator, PSC commissioner and candidate for the U.S. House, “We need to show respect to the Hillary Clinton campaign.” I hope that resonated with the crowd.

I mentioned bizarre moments at the head of this piece. Here’s the other: after electing the regional delegates, there were three other seats to be selected: two at large and one PLEO (Party Leader and Elected Official). Our caucus nominated a list and then a call came from the national Bernie Sanders campaign. It edited the list down, which apparently it has the right to do, “to reward those most committed to the campaign and to ensure affirmative action.”

Which is exactly what we were planning to do but I guess national didn’t trust us. This is perhaps the most disturbing event I’ve encountered in the Sanders campaign.

There was also some quibbling over numbers: scratching our heads over formulae and the correct balance of women and men on a particular ballot, etc.

“We’re the party of the people, not the party of math,” quipped one delegate.

But we got it all sorted out with a minimum of stress. As former U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis, who chaired the caucus said, “Bernie people are the best.”

I’m going to leave you with two important points.

One: the Democratic Party better do some serious outreach to the Bernie camp. Advancing much of Bernie’s platform would be a good start. If the Democratic Party doesn’t want to go the way of the Republican Party – insulated, splintered and ineffective — it should be kissing Sanders’ supporters collective derrieres. The best political writer on the scene today, in my opinion, Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi, sums it up succinctly.

This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters …

The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.

This is especially the case now that the Republican Party has collapsed under the weight of its own nativist lunacy. It’s exactly the moment when the Democrats should feel free to become a real party of ordinary working people.

Two: It’s a damn shame you had to come to this site to read about the convention. I’m not a reporter, obviously. But you probably didn’t have a lot of choice. Besides one young TV reporter, struggling with her tripod, camera and microphone, there was no media presence. Politics may not garner the headlines of meth-fueled homicides or puppy-dog shows, but folks should know how the process works. Sometimes it’s important to see how the sausage is made.

UPDATE: I received a link to a Great Falls Tribune story on the convention. Here it is:

It’s a good piece, with more info on the Clinton caucus than I was able to relay. There’s also a list of all the delegates going to Philadelphia in July. Thank you reporter Phil Drake.

UPDATE #2: Here’s Montana Public Radio’s take on the convention:

Thank you reporter Corin Cates-Carney.


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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  • “Our caucus nominated a list and then a call came from the national Bernie Sanders campaign. It edited the list down, which apparently it has the right to do, ‘to reward those most committed to the campaign and to ensure affirmative action.'”

    So much for grassroots democracy. If Bernie’s campaign can do this, does do this, and did do this, then to hell with him, too. I may end up voting for Hillary in sef-defense, but after 48 years of considering myself a Democrat, I no longer recognize my political party.

    • How does this little overstepping on the part of the campaign offend you so much that you’ll vote for the thoroughly corrupt Hillary Clinton?

    • James and Turner, this ploy upset me but I’m not ready to jump ship. It’s politics and the Sanders campaign is being strategic in rewarding its major grassroots organizers and making sure there’s diversity within the delegation. We’re a small state, delegate wise, and I think the national Sanders campaign didn’t think this through and overstepped its bounds. Mistakes were made but not by design. It’s not Bernie’s fault and I’m still a supporter.

      • We gave him his last win. He rewards us by telling us he doesn’t trust our choice of delegates to the national convention. It’s his campaign. Therefore, he owns this decision, which makes me sick to my stomach. Et tu, Bernie. If by some chance the superdelegates come to their senses, an event whose probability of occurring is on the order of the cow’s jumping over the moon, I’ll cheer him on. I’ll continue to cheer the good he’s done. But this makes me angry and depressed. He started his campaign by not pandering to identity politics, the scourge of the Democratic Party. Now he ends his campaign by over-ruling the grassroots to make sure that an identity politics quota is filled. It’s hard to imagine a more inglorious denouement.

        • This minor gaff, which Bernie had nothing to do with, “depressed” you? Have you been paying attention to the outrageous things the Hillary people and the DNC (really the same thing) have been doing? There’s no equivalency here. Are you sure you’re not just looking for an excuse to support Hillary?

          • I’m pretty sure James Conner isn’t looking for an excuse to vote for Hillary, Mr. Turner, but you’re right, I doubt Bernie was consulted on this issue. He hired a professional staff to help him win and they did what they thought would be best to advance Bernie’s campaign. I should add that it was a lenghtly phone conversation with legal council and advisors involved, and we eventually settled the issue …

            I appreciate James’ indignation — I felt the same way at the time — but in the big picture, this was an unfortunate misstep and I’m hoping the campaign won’t repeat this mistake again.

          • Turner, no one who reads believes I’m looking for an excuse to vote for Hillary. But I do share Bernie’s determination not to let Donald Trump become president. If that requires holding my nose and voting for Hillary, I’ll do it. But I’ll never blow a kiss in her direction.

            Regarding the Sanders’ campaign’s high-handedness, Pete is much more forgiving of this kind of thing than I am.

    • I was at the convention as a Bernie delegate from Flathead County. Obviously I agree this was strange and disturbing. I will try to lay down as exactly as I remember the events as they occurred. When we gathered for the election of the PLEOs (I was merely an observer because the PLEOs are co-opted by the already elected district delegates and delegates who are elected officials) our chair, Amanda, came forward and said their was an announcement we wouldn’t like. The national campaign, and she named two people in particular whose names I don’t remember, had decided to exercise the right of review. They elected the PLEOs then and there and then we went into the main room to elect at-large. We were told we would have a list of 10 names but the chair didn’t want to release them until a staffer started handing them out on his own initiative. At that point she decided it would be pointless to hold them longer and the rest were announced. Subsequently one of the women and four of the men dropped out or were found not to be present. That meant that the one remaining male delegate, Eric, was going to be elected automatically. He then asked what would happen if he dropped out and the chair said she thought we would then elect two female delegates. He then dropped out. Some of the attendees wondered if we could have replacements cleared to bump the number back up to ten. I then raised a point of information as to whether the campaign realized that the list of ten people they had given us was really now four. She offered to call them and after there was a resounding yes form the floor she did. We stopped for at least half an hour, during which time the California false alarm occurred. After the break the chair said the national campaign had run it past legal and that we could continue electing two female delegates and one alternate because Montana had multiple male superdelegates.
      After I returned home, I heard that Bernie himself had emerged from a weekend-long confab. That seemed to suggest he had nothing to do with the decision to review the delegates. I’m still not sure why the decision to use their right of review (as opposed to picking the particular delegate candidates) was made. It may have had something to do with the large and unwieldy number of candidates in the Western District, or concerns about the delegates from the Eastern, or the fact that some of the original PLEO candidates listed were not qualified. There must have been something to flag the attention of the campaign in the first place. I’m not sure what it was.

      • Thanks for adding the additional detail, Arthur. That’s how I remember it going down.
        I, too, would like to know the reasoning behind national’s decision to “review” the list. Why, especially, in little old Montana.

        • As someone who was in contact with the campaign during this process, including in on the calls about the decisions to limit the number of people eligible to run, here are my thoughts. The Bernie campaign had phenomenal metrics about who did what — so they know who there strongest supporters are. They are also committed to diversity and the delegates indicate their diversity on the application. Staff, with those idea in mind, exercised the campaign’s right to review delegates. Though this is unusual, when you are running an insurgent campaign it makes some sense to ensure that the delegates are actually loyal to you. Much of this was apparent if you were part of the conversation, but not obvious to the delegates at the convention as a whole. There was also a great deal of contention in the eastern district Bernie caucus, but I don’t know anything about that.

          • Thanks for the info, Ben. And can anyone fill us in on the Eastern District Bernie caucus? I heard there was a three-way tie for one of the male delegate positions. Anything else?

            • I too would be interested in any information on the Eastern District. Ben, can you clarify what you mean by “in on the calls?” Amanda made it sound as if the nat’l campaign had merely passed the order down from on high. Did they consult with you or other people in Helena first?
              I think there’s a tendency to overestimate what can be done just through the metrics. I think people would have been more willing to accept the decision if there was an actual representative of the campaign present to talk to. As it was, the two official organizers for the state were both away.

              • “On the calls” means that the National campaign phoned in to Justin Ailport or another Democratic staffer and then these calls were put on speaker for organizers, chairs and delegates to listen and ask questions. These calls were from National to express their stance on the process. National sent a specific limiting instruction to the Party via email after the district level voting. There was no consulting with local delegates and this email took us by surprise. This was the deepest I’ve ever been behind the scenes at a delegate convention, so I cannot say whether this is normal or not. However, given the insurgent nature of the campaign, I understand the desire to protect Bernie’s interests.

                • Thanks for clarifying! I’m still mystified about why they decided to do this; unless they do it at every convention “insurgent campaign” seems insufficient as an explanation. (I mean, it seems the most important question is whether people are going to defect to Hillary when this goes to the national convention, and I don’t know how they determine that from the data they have.)

            • I’m sorry, but I do not trust anything about Ben Darrow’s version of anything. He finagled all this so that his pal Steve Wells, who never would have been elected on his own, got to go as a delegate. This whole thing has been really disgusting and underhanded.

          • “Their diversity.” First time I’ve ever hear that phrase. The Democratic Affirmation Statement” asks for demographic information, but says “Filling out this section is optional.” Would exercising their right to not provide demographic information have counted against delegates hoping to be sent to the national convention?

            • I have no idea, but I personally think that people who want to be delegates should be open and honest about who they are. I really do think that Bernie National was seeking the strongest delegation, and I agree with their decision, and I agree with the results.

            • I would guess that if you want to get extra chances to go to the convention for being Native/LGBT/veteran/youth or senior then you would need to state that, not just expect people to read your mind.

      • Did someone in Montana — perhaps a disgruntled would-be delegate — call Bernie’s national campaign and ask for an intervention? If not, then his campaign’s big brother operation was keeping chillingly close tabs on the convention and making sure that a pre-determined outcome occurred.

        Bernie owns this. He may not have made the decisions himself. But it’s his campaign, and his people were doing what he hired them to do.

        I find myself wondering whether this happened in other state conventions.

        • James, I feel like your frame on this is more conspiratorial than necessary. The campaign limited the choices (by using their right of review), but there were still choices, not a predetermined outcome. Yes, the campaign did monitor the convention — the rules actually require their participation at key points — but this is not Orwellian. No disgruntled delegates (to my knowledge) contacted the campaign about any of this, and their decisions were not based upon “chillingly close tabs” they were keeping. [As an aside, the Hillary campaign kept much closer tabs on their delegate selection process by virtue of having their official campaign representatives actually present].

          Ultimately, there were many more people who wanted to go for Bernie than there were spots. The Bernie campaign wanted diversity, loyalty and people who demonstrated ability to do real work. They exercised their rights and that is the delegation they got. Sure there was some confusion, but there was nothing nefarious.

          • Ben, my experience with local and county campaigns goes back to 1968, and involves not just Montana. I’ve never heard of this kind of string pulling in the selection of delegates. Perhaps it was allowed by the rules, but that doesn’t make it right.

            These were supposed to be the delegates chosen by Montana’s Democrats. It was advertised as a grassroots affair, the obnoxious demographics obsessed affirmation notwithstanding. But the grassroots aspect of it was a sham.

            Why should a candidate’s national staff have a veto on the choices of the grassroots? To me, that’s a dangerously authoritarian arrangement. So what it they wanted to reward “diversity, loyalty, …etc.?” That’s how the ward bosses of old operated.

            Yet you see nothing wrong with this, and that concerns me as much as what happened. The Democratic Party needs leaders on the grassroots level who are committed to grassroots Democracy — but you abandoned the grassroots for the national bosses. Shame on you.

            • Because you have never heard of delegates being limited by campaigns, my guess is you haven’t been embedded deeply enough. DFL conventions have that fight and credential battles all the time. This time in MT the Hillary campaign exercised this right as well.

              There were no bosses putting their finger in the scales.

              • Ben, I suspect that more than a few readers could react to your comments by concluding that you may have a talent for shady politics embedded in your soul. They could well be right.

                • C’mon James, you know I have no soul. ? Seriously, as you know there were multiple Bernie activists on the ground doing work and there was tension between these groups. At the convention the positive groups who were doing actual Bernie work came together. This froze out the folks who thought they were going to run the show like Marshall et al. The National campaign pared the list of self-nominated candidates down to people they knew and trusted. That was the process. And the result is a great and diverse Bernie delegation.

  • Hi, everyone.

    I was just made aware of this discussion. I think it’s a good one to be having.

    I left the convention in Helena after the PLEO election because I was upset that not one Montana delegate voted for either of the Native American women. NOT ONE VOTE. What were they thinking?

    It turns out it had been decided in advance that the delegation would support Steve Wells and, I was told, not to worry — they would “take care of one of the Native American women later.”

    As far as I can tell, this was not a decision made by the Sanders campaign, but by our own delegates, who have told me they see nothing unethical about what they did. Specifically, Andy Boyd told me when I raised the issue with him:

    “The way I see it is that everyone got in that we thought were deserving.”

    This was not my first state convention nor my first involvement in a political campaign, so I am not naive about the process. But I find this thinking deeply disturbing. There was indeed a finger on the scales in Montana, and it was there from the beginning apparently.

    I support Bernie Sanders not just because of the issues he supports, but because of his integrity. As I told Ben Darrow after the convention, he and the other delegates managed to out-Clinton Clinton with their behind the scene maneuverings, conducting an “election” in front of the entire Sanders delegation that was predetermined from the beginning. “This is just politics” I’ve been told. They might as well be working for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

  • I concur with everything Diane said, but would like to add the the weighting of the scales happened first thing, with the vote for Eastern Pledged delegates. Andy Boyd had made a deal with some Bozeman and Billings supporters that they would vote for him and his new girlfriend, Jennifer Mereki, if he could get enough people in the Billings and Bozeman groups to vote for them. He wanted me to be party to this little scheme of his but I refused, knowing that it effectively eliminated any participation from anyone from rural Eastern Montana or from the reservations. As I had decided in advance to throw any tiny bit of weight I had towards making sure that Rae Peppers of Lame Deer, and a long time state Senator, Sharon Peregoy, both Native American women, get elected, I was most unhappy with the fact that they were being tossed aside in favour of some very inexperienced and somewhat cynical young white kids from the two cities. It just got worse from there. My guess is that much of this was orchestrated by a certain Ben Darrow, who boasted about his responsibilty in the “Horse-trading”. I was so disgusted that I left the convention early and drove from Helena to Livingston in less than an hour and a half.

  • This is Ben Darrow’s letter to Diane Smith after we raised our concerns about what happened. It is not truthful, in that the two native american women most certainly did not “agree with tremendous support”

    Thank you for this great summary and for your work at the convention. I can honestly say that Bernie won the convention and the delegation is awesome.

    As to address your one major complaint, I can understand your perspective, but it comes from an angle not privy to all the machinations. I would take full responsibility for the horse-trading that resulted in that vote.

    When the campaign limited the nominees, it became clear that Steve and the other two legislators were the best choices to round out the delegation. The path for Steve in the at-large was more risky so the entire delegation agreed to make that move. I spoke to both Sharon and Rae before and they understood what I was attempting to do and consented with tremendous trust.

    In the end, because of gender issues, this was very lucky for Steve, and and both Indian women were elected. I know the process was not intended to be insulting, but to show unity.

    I hope that makes some sense of things from my perspective. Feel free to contact me directly at [EDITED OUT PHONE NUMBER] if you want to talk about this Diane.

    Congratulations everyone who worked so hard and produced such great results!

    Ben Darrow

  • I do not believe much of what Ben Darrow says I am afraid. He has quite an imagination and both he and Andy Boyd have boasted about what they did, repeatedly, in emails and messages to myself and Diane and Marshall Mayer, as all of us were sickened by what we saw happen. Rae Peppers, one of the Native American woman and an elected offical if I am not mistaken, was seriously distressed and is still distressed.
    What a sordid way to end a year of working on a gloriously slime free campaign.

  • I’m very concerned that somehow Ben Darrow got to decide “who the best choices” were to go to Philly. Steve Wells is definitely NOT a good choice to represent Montana. My experience of him is he is incapable of not interrupting, talking over and using his large size and voice to effectively gag anyone with a different opinion. And in particular women. This is a travesty. And before I get labeled “sour grapes” as others have that spoke up, I did not go to the convention or try for a spot even though I’ve been actively involved in the campaign since last June. I won’t even go into my equally unpleasant experience with Ben Darrow.

    • Apparently the Bernie campaign disagreed with your assessment of Steve as he was on the short list they provided. That your coalition was shut out is evidence that weirdos with ulterior motives were not good delegates. I will say it was great fun to finally attend a statewide Bernie meeting and lookout Philly, here we come!

      • I’ve stayed out of this thread as I wasn’t there, but as someone who has supported and believed in Senator Sanders since he was first elected to the House, the sentiment here is one of the best embodiments of the destructive Bernie Bros. who damaged his reputation.

        Care to elaborate on what makes a person a “weirdo with ulterior motives”?

  • We all know the system is rigged, and the game has to be played in order to change it – bickering and name calling simply shows the party is just as immature as it has been made out to be. I hope you all can come to peace with yourselves and unify in support of necessary change soon, as the progressive movement will continue to need your support regardless of personal differences or feelings of being ignored. You should be rejoicing that the selections made in Helena do not risk being coerced to HRC. Please consider the maturity you represent in the verbiage you have chosen to express your opinions.

  • Well, this was not my first rodeo and hopefully not my last. I attended this convention, a bit naive to the divisiveness afoot. Greatly disappointed that the democratic process was manipulated as it was.

    I personally felt like a big fool for having believeing it would go openly without the interference from outside the caucus. Wasted a lot of time and energy, which hurts also.

    Those responsible for the smudge on the process really need to examine their own ethics, honesty and openness to a democratic process before continuing down the same road Bernie repudiates about politics. I’ve been to many Dem Conventions over the years – never seen anything like this.

    Still a stalwart Sanders supporter, but do not understand nor support this sort of duplicity in politics. It’s so disappointing it’s beyond words.

    • I am with you Bill. A deep deep dissappointment and sense of dissillusionment. A year of hard work and almost ten grand worth of my own money down the tubes for nothing.

  • I missed the PLEO vote even though I was a Bernie delegate from Ravalli County. I had already been through the platform convention which itself had some of the same machine politics – more on that later. But, I will take note of the Democrat Party being a “grassroots” party. That is not how it looks from Ravalli County.

    From my campaign website:

    During the platform discussions it was clear that the Democrats there wanted it to be a platform “for the people.”

    But, the cost of attendance, travel, and hotel eliminated several people from Ravalli County from being able to attend or run as delegates. Thus, it must be recognized that the platform was not “by the people,” at least not by all of the people. One could say that the cost of participation is like a poll tax, but I know that is not the intent. But, it is in practice.

    I noted there were corporate sponsors. While that could become a question in itself, at least a good part of that sponsorship could go to a “scholarship” fund based on need – and the need statement could be private submission to the party to avoid any stigma.

    Jim Olsen

    Fellow Democrats,

    I am one of those who are financially challenged to attend many political functions since they are very far away and require not only travel but also fancy lodging and expensive meals. I would welcome any assistance by the Democratic Party.

    Mark Snider

  • Dear Bernie Supporters, My name is Teresa Jacobs. I am reading the account here for the first time. And it all saddens me. I was chosen as a district delegate (from Missoula) in the first round. I am devoted to Bernie’s election, and my work is focused on the reasons why Bernie is the best candidate (and why Hillary is not), and to understand the role and responsibliity of superdelegates who will most likely be deciding this election. This is how I presented myself, and I was simply open to serving if I was asked. I was surprised that I was elected at both the county and state level. I have not participated in any collusion during the process. I am practiced in making up my own mind, and voting my own conscience, based on having served as a school board trustee when I was often the only outlying vote while others often voted according to group think. The PLEO voting came after a long break as we waiting for some intervention by the Sanders campaign. I want to know more about that process, since Diane Smith was the person who was named at the start of the Convention, as the required Bernie representative. As a newbie, I thought all delegates would be voting for the PLEO as in the first round. But 8 of us who’d just been elected were asked to move our chairs forward, we heard the names of the 4 nominees, heard their speeches, we voted. Ben had presumed to say “vote for Steve” in my ear as he ushered me in. But I have no reason to take directions from him. I voted according to my conscience for Steve, based on what I had heard him say about his canvasing work for Bernie and other campaigns over time. He had said “I’m good at asking for what I want and getting what I ask for”and I thought that matched our need to reach superdelegates. The other two candidates didn’t even talk for their whole allotted minutes. And the most terrible thing is that somebody had the nerve to tell them that they were not going to be elected in the PLEO round. No wonder they did not show me their fire. I was looking for fire because it is our job now to remind our party’s 714 Superdelegates that their power to vote freely at the National was given in trade responsibility to be loyal to who can win in November – over any feelings of loyalty or pressure or promises made to Hillary. And I have collected good reasons why Bernie would win, including my compilation that shows over 16.5 Million registered voters were not even able to cast a vote in the primary due to closed elections. Bernie will get more of the votes of Independents. It’s how Obama won. Bernie will get the support of all the Democrats. Bernie can even get crossover votes from Republicans who are disgusted with Trump. But Hillary cannot get crossover votes from Republicans. She cannot even get all Democrats behind her if she were to get the nomination. And the self-directed independents who vote for eschew party politics will vote for anti-estabishment candidates like Sanders and Trump, not Clinton. Hillary does not get the support of people are not not afraid to look at her atrocious record of disservice to our nation, including the recent evidence that she traded her influence as SOS for donations from foreign countries to the Clinton Foundation. I could go on and on. Let’s get back to the business at hand. Thanks for starting this accounting Pete. I want to hear suggestions for how to resolve this. I have some ideas too which I will raise with the delegates now that we have been provided with a contact list from the state Democratic party (just yesterday). Hold onto to your hats everyone and be in your hearts still as we come to terms with this. Part of me wants to just disassociate with the whole mess. But what good would that do for the Bernie cause.

  • Oops. just re-read my post. Typo – 3 not 4 PLEO candidates. And to be clear, I’m disturbed that somebody had the nerve to tell the two candidates opposing Steve that they were not to be elected in this round, etc…. That strikes me as incredibly inappropriate – disrespectful and patriarchial – and humiliating to be told you are a pawn in somebody else’s chess game. If this happened, it’s totally not OK with me for any reason. This is the biggest problem for me so far in what I’m understanding may have happened. Just like myself, another first round delegate who was also just clued into this controversy, Debra, has also stated in an email to Diane and me that she voted her own conscience for Steve based on his work (but that Ben had pushed for a vote for Steve to her too which she brushed off as normal campaigning behavior). Some people think that politics is about trading influence. And we know that happens alot in the real world. But I agree with Diane that the integrity of Bernie, and the clarity of his votes – based on principles – is the biggest reason his favorability ratings are consistently high. More than most politicians perhaps, he votes his conscience based on what he knows to be true, no matter how it leaves him relegated to the fringe. His record in Congress is not perfect (Kosovo), but he comes out on the right side of most issues. Bernie is best for our Democracy even in the way he has run his campaign – with people power not PAC power that leads to more Corporate Rule and corruption like the TPP. Hillary is intent on WINNING AT ALL COSTS – no matter the damage to the integrity of the DNC and state parties (the bylaws call for evenhanded towards both candidates and their campaigns), and damage to our electoral process (having 444 superdelegates pledge to Hillary before primary voting and the media continue to claim her invincibility was meant to influence voters). It would be sad indeed if any Bernie supporters were so intent on winning a seat as a delegate, and wanted to control who else got to have a seat as a delegate, that they would choose to win at all costs. It’s not in keeping with the spirit of the Bernie effort to resort to collusion to build their power in order to strategically bring about personal wants without regard for the impact on the integrity of the process, and the free will of voters. We don’t have all the facts yet, but even appearances can be damaging to mistrust. It’s hard to know what to do in this situation. I see the delegates have been invited to a call with the Bernie campaign tomorrow night. I will place this matter on the agenda if I can. Please don’t walk away. I’m also disgusted. But we have to stay together. Please.

    • Well spoken. My heart is so heavy with this, on some level I just want it all to go away so that I can go back to my gardening and my dogs and my reading. I don’t want to know this happened, but I do know, and I don’t know what one does with that reality.

    • Thanks, Teresa.

      I want to point out to you and the others here that I was told by Ben Darrow that the decision to elect one PLEO delegate at the expense of the two others was done with the consent of “the entire delegation,” as seen in the email above. As it turns out, that is not 100% accurate. Two of the MIssoula delegates, including Teresa, have denied knowing anything about this arrangement, and I believe them.

      I also want to point out, as I did in my original email to Ben and a handful of others asking about the PLEO results, that this was never meant to question Steve Wells’s qualifications or suitability. I just wanted to know how it was possible that an election could be unanimous, as it was reported to us in Helena, when we had three qualified candidates.

      If this was meant to be an appointment by the campaign, why bother to hold an election? They have the power to appoint delegates. They did so, for example, with Ben and Amanda Curtis. But I’m still not convinced the campaign had anything to do with this.

      Also, for the record, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of any facebook group or faction or whatever is fueling some of the negative comments here. Nor have I ever knowingly associated with any “weirdos with ulterior motives.”

      I’m just a hard-working Democrat who supports Bernie Sanders because I believe in what he stands for — I actually _believe_ it when he talks about the system being rigged and good governance etc. Naïve, I know.

      I initially questioned the election of the PLEOs because something did not feel right — it appeared to fly in the face of what Bernie Sanders has been campaigning for. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened and why, but the lesson I take away from this is that this may be “how politics works,” but that doesn’t make it right.

  • Dear Democrats:

    Lets hop on the SPEEDING TRAIN TO THE PLATFORM CONVENTION. Here were the instructions and rules going into the Platform Convention.

    – Please submit you comments to the Draft Platform in advance. Although motions can be made during the platform convention from the floor.
    – The comments will be assigned to a committee.
    – The committee with consider and report to the general platform assembly.
    – Motions for additional changes may be made from the floor.

    The Agenda stated that the platform convention would convene and adopt a “new format.” Of course, I assumed it would be the format presented in the convention packet.

    So, I submitted 14 suggested changes in advance.

    SPEEDING TRAIN STOP 1. When we registered on the day of the convention, we were handed new rules, rules we had not seen before – no amendments from the floor, only those that were adopted by a committee. Of course, a room full of people were not up for a debate – only a few minutes was allotted for this change. So, it passed.

    SPEEDING TRAIN STOP 2. There were three time frames for committees with four committees meeting at once. So, I had to pick the one I was most interested in. The first thing the chair of the committee said was, The originator of a change had to be present to introduce it. Now I had to be two places at once.

    Now, this was NOT in the rules presented ahead of time OR in the modified rules. When I asked how I could be in two places at once, I was told I could have someone else stand in. Of course, there was no time for this. So, a number of my suggestions never got considered.

    I chose to focus on mental illness, justice, and women’s issues. Well, this was not a giant deal except for one issue which got ignored that it turned out led me to vote against the platform.

    Now, I was was told that this was needed in the interest of time. I mentioned my complaint to the party chair.

    THE SPEEDING TRAIN WOULD BE BRAKED HARD in Ravalli County. if some Commission, government agency, or other government agency had pulled this, they would have had a whole different response and it would have been polite, but forceful, and has resulted in litigation under Article II Section 9 of the Montana Constitution from all sides of the political spectrum.

    I hope, next time we will see a fair and reasonable opportunity to consider changes that affect our inputs and our right to influence politics and events.

    From Blog sent to all Democratic Candidates!On-the-Helena-Convention-Train-•-Not-Nevada-but/n7wg6/5765def20cf2d021c401ae8f


    Three recommendations our campaign submitted to the Democratic Platform DID NOT make it into the platform:

           10. Courts for the people not the lawyers that eliminate discovery abuses, claims that include false factual statements early in the process, and reduce the average cost of civil litigation to 25% of its current level.

            12a.  The right of victim of a violent crime to be informed in the progress of a case, to influence plea deals, and have a method to force prosecution when it is justified.

            12b. For violent crimes, the consequence should fit the crime. A priority at all levels of justice for swift, fair, and just prosecution and judgment of violent crimes including rape.

    Here is were a firm attachment to the legal process met a failure to meet the people’s needs on the ground. I talked about what people expect from our justice system and how it repeatedly fails to meet that expection. 

    In return, I got lectures as to how it works, most of which I already know, having among other things gone through an agressive civil lawsuit that claimed I did things that I did not do. Yes, the courts finally agreed and dismissed that case after a trial – but how many family owned small businesses can affort $154,000 dollars to defend themselves in a falling economy. This is ground truth.

    One person who molests children and is sitting in Deerloge – as he should. Another in Missoula does not serve a single day in jail? Huh? This is the ground truth. 

    Who is the only person in the executive branch that a citizen cannot force to do their job? The prosecutor. I was told that the Montana Attorney General could – or wait for the next election cycle!! At that point I stopped talking – but, that is NOT justice – you are telling a victim of a violent crime to wait two years and oraganize a political campaign. 

    It seems this is the crux of the matter: The LOGIC OF HELENA is not rooted in ground truth. All of the great theories and political rhetoric in the world will fail us on the ground when this happens.

    I’m sorry, I don’t see how the Democratic Party is going to help people in real life, on the ground, when the discussion does not start with Ground Truth.!Helena-Theories-vs-The-Truth-on-the-Ground/n7wg6/57676f710cf26a3c3c2d756b

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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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