After all, with the latest debacle we’ve seen in Ravalli County with embattled Treasurer Valerie Stamey, it’s safe to say future problems could crop up around the state at any time.
So what can be done? Deals.
Yes, deals, deals that circumvent the electoral process in such a way that the chances of a Tea Party candidate being elected go down dramatically.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the 1970 sheriff’s election in Pitkin County, Colorado.
Mr. Thompson Goes to Aspen
Well, in the early 60s he made his home in Woody Creek, CO, right outside Aspen. At the time the area was pretty rural and you’d think quite conservative as well. That just wasn’t the case.
Thompson had urged Edwards to run after the lawyer had defended hippies back in ’67, and after a mumbling and often incoherent 2 AM phone call out of the blue. While Edwards didn’t win, it showed Thompson that there was a very strong chance an unconventional candidate could take office in Aspen.
The Freak Power Ticket
It might seem like a rather unconventional office for a dope fiend, but you’ve got to figure that Thompson also liked his guns. And how many sheriffs around the country aren’t popping some kind of pill today?
The Freak Power ticket or party was formed, with a platform that included decriminalizing drugs, ensuring no buildings were tall enough to block out the surrounding mountains, ripping up the city streets and turning them to grass, and giving Aspen the much more appropriate name of “Fat City.”
The Race Gets Underway
They didn’t much like it, but didn’t much consider his chances serious either. They made a mistake.
It was a tight race, mainly because of Thompson’s efforts. He shaved his head to call one adversary “his long-haired opponent” and even distributed posters and leaflets across the country. And then there was the TV ad:
The issue, Rolling Stone #67, appeared on October 1, 1970. At that point Thompson was in the lead in the three-way race.
The article, however, galvanized his opponents. Not only did it lay out Thompson’s strategy for winning over the next month, it also made it clear that this crazy cat had a chance. Something had to be done.
A Deal is Struck
If Thompson won the race Aspen was finished as far as they were concerned, and that meant sacrifices had to be made.
Whether a coin was flipped or darts were thrown, the incumbent Carrol D. Whitmire was selected as the candidate that would remain in the race. Whitmire had first been elected back in 1966 and would go on to serve until 1976 before stepping down under some shady circumstances.
The other candidate, whose name I can’t find anywhere, dropped out of the race in a deal that would give them another office. All votes that would have gone to them would now go to Whitmire.
It was a deal that these two parties would not go against one another in key races. So another candidate dropped out and Thompson was doomed. He lost the race to Whitmire by 465 votes, garnering just 44% of the county total.
Could the Same Happen in Montana?
Do we want that in other areas of the state?
Do Democrats want that? Surely no. Do Republicans want that?
Now that’s the question.
I can’t help but think as the Tea Party gets more desperate they’ll alienate more Republicans. Could the Democrats be the lesser of the two evils for the Republicans? So much so that they’d step aside in a race so someone rational and logical and with a willingness to work together can get elected?
I think after the 2015 Montana Legislative Session we’ll be asking ourselves this question a lot more.