Some Angry Words about the Democratic Primary

Man yelling
Angry Man Envato Elements Stock Photo

You are almost certain, in my estimation, to vote for the wrong candidate in one of the Democratic primaries over the next month.

I am almost certainly going to vote for the wrong candidate in one those same Democratic primaries, in your estimation.

The simple truth is that we have an embarrassment of riches in the choices ahead of us.

In the race for governor, we have an accomplished business leader with diverse experiences all over the world and an experienced political leader who understands Montana as well as anyone.

In the race for the Senate, we’ve got the two-term governor who brought Medicaid Expansion to Montana and who is guiding us through COVID-19 and a thoughtful teacher, rancher, and engineer bringing a new voice to Montana politics.

In the race for the U.S. House, we’ve got a pair of candidates who speak and live Montana progressive values every day.

For Attorney General, we have two accomplished lawyers who have chosen to make public service the focus of their professional lives.

For State Auditor, we have two candidates who understand that the purpose of the office is to protect the people of Montana, not the insurance companies and scammers who want to take advantage of them.

And down that ballot line, I am going to make some choices that are different than yours. I might believe that one candidate for Attorney General, for instance, is a stronger choice on defending public education, and you might believe that one of the candidates for the House has a better chance of finally wresting that seat from Republican hands. You might be an “electability” voter; I might be an idealist.

We’re both right to believe what we do and to vote according to what our consciences, our values, and our guts tell us.

We’ll only be wrong if we lose sight, in our passionate defense of the candidates we admire, of a simple fact: each of these candidates will be better for Montana than the Republican alternative.

There’s no question that Kim Dudik or Raph Graybill will protect a woman’s right to choose as Attorney General and no question that Whitney Williams or Mike Cooney will defend Montana’s public schools from the forces of coerced public payments for discriminatory private schools.

There’s no question that our candidates are better than Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale, Troy Downing, and Austin Knudsen.

Let’s be careful as the primaries wind down not to let our passion turn into vitriol, our commitment turn into anger. Fight like hell for the candidates you support, but fight remembering that the goal here is to put one of our compassionate, bright, progressive candidates in each of these offices. Fight tough, but fight fair, and remember we’re all on the same team.

If we can all agree to that, all of us will be casting votes for the right candidates this month and in November.

Let’s go win these races!

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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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • As a life-long independent, I’ve always tended to look at political candidates with a jaundiced eye, regardless of party. This year, though, I think Mr Pogreba has it entirely correct: “…a simple fact: each of these candidates will be better for Montana than the Republican alternative.”

    Sure, there are a couple of the candidates who are a little wobbly, but it’s more from enthusiastic idealism than callous partisanship. That’s why we have a primary election, isn’t it?

    I am particularly hopeful that we will be able to restore “public” and “service” to the Public Service Commission. That absence has been glaring and deeply concerning for Montana’s future.

  • Mues (Senate) and Winter (House) should drop out before the primary. They’re
    wasting the necessary time and money needed by Bullock and Williams to fight
    the ugly and distorted Republican campaigns. Winters is a recent transplant and
    Mues can’t be found. Don, you’ve been generous in your words about these two
    nobodies, but I’ve been engaged in politics in Montana for fifty years and WE all
    need to pitch in and defeat the Republican lies this time. Thankfully, Steve Bullock
    chose to run. And Williams is a sloppy campaigner with an inept staff but with Bullock up-ballot, she might win. Lucky for her Corey Stapleton and Maryland Matt are both entirely loathsome with extremely low intelligence, so she stands a good chance this year, despite her self-imposed obstacles.

    • Philip, as I’ve said before, thank you for your calls, emails, and posts of erroneous content since Gov Bullock announced on 09 Mar. You’ve been a loyal surrogate, informal or not.

    • I’m inclined to disagree. I don’t think either primary is a bad thing for Democrats for a number of reasons:

      1) They build the Democratic bench.
      2) They’re not negative, damaging campaigns.
      3) I like hearing thoughtful perspectives from people even if they’re not likely to win.

      • Everyone imagines himself to be more of a critical thinker than others.

        Maybe, just maybe, you should think about how it might be good for you to read people who you disagree with on a point or two.

        You haven’t explained in any way how these primaries are bad for Dems. Instead, you seem to have some weird animus towards John that you’re working out here. Why not engage in substantive discussion instead of insulting me and a candidate you seem to have an issue with?

        And readership is doing great. Thanks for the concern.

        • We’re on track for a million visits to the site this year, but thanks for the input.

          Really sad to see you go, given your powers of observation and argument. I’m not sure how we’ll carry on.

          • As of today, the site has had 257,523 visits in 2020 alone. We’re really happy with that.

            Thanks for the deep dive into my biography, although some of it is wrong.

            There is a difference between “your” and “you’re,” by the way.

            Have a lovely life reading better sources than this one!

    • @Philip – Not to belittle your convictions, but your angry dismissal of anyone with whom you disagree, and your contemptuous (and silly) complaints about nearly everything are much more in the model of the extreme right than any other. I see a tone and attitude that is more reflective of the likes of Art Wittich, Roger Koopman, and their ilk than anyone committed to rational discourse.

      You may restrict your sources of information to “national” media, but good luck with those in garnering any real picture of Montana issues. Or do you feel you already know everything important about local matters?

      • Claudius, you appear to be an uninspired mimic of Pogreba. Are you two married? You’re a pretty regular commentator. Maybe every week? I’ve lived in Montana for fifty years and have seen your kind come and go. Always acting like you discovered righteous indignation. Nope, on your simple assertions. I am a liberal with low tolerance for stupidity. I had the FIRST Barack Obama yard sign in Montana (January, 2007). I had the first Joe Biden yard sign (I checked with his campaign) a year ago. Nope. Not a “Reich Winger”. So please grow a wee brain before inserting your utter twaddle into the discussion.

        PP from the Blackfeet Rez.

      • @Phil – I didn’t charge you with BEING right-wing – just presenting attitude and mouth as confrontational and antagonistic. You don’t make any cogent arguments, or convincing presentations, to people who are actually trying to decide how they regard a particular issue. They see your angry pugnacity and just tune you out. Worse, they might get the idea that others with progressive viewpoints are tarred with that same brush.

        I use a forum ID to represent a general viewpoint – Claudius Caesar was the last of the Roman Emperors who actually wanted to restore the Republic, but that was no longer possible. If Mr Pogreba allows it in this forum, I’ll share my email with you if you’d really like to engage in a rational discussion: “”

        BTW – I reached voting age in time to vote against Nixon. I proudly voted against Reagan when the time came because I (correctly) believed he would do more damage to our democracy than any other president in US history. The path from his charismatic determination to repeal the entire 20th century can be directly traced to the corrupt sociopath currently infesting the White House.

        If you want to talk – email me. If you just want to rant, don’t bother.

  • Settle down guys!

    This election cycle, with Creepy Joe at the top of the ballot, The Dems are going to lose and lose huge in Montana.

      • I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don’t know that it’s weird to call someone’s personal cell phone number three times in a row when they are obviously screening the call, write about their personal biography, attack their professionalism, and insult them all because you disagree with the blog post, but someone should tell you.

        It is weird.

        • Philip – you have all the appearances of being an online stalker – how creepy is that??!! None of your diatribe makes any sense, and it has no place in an intelligent discussion of the issue at hand.

          Please do go away and stop checking back looking for a fight.

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