Yes, we’re talking about who will replace Walsh. With him taking two days off I don’t think there’s any question about it at this point. The only question I have is how well his mental health is holding up under all this scrutiny (reporters knocking on your door looking for a concession speech don’t help).
Hopefully he’s alright, but I also hope he’s going to step down. I want him to serve in the Senate until January but I want Democrats in Montana to have someone they can proudly vote for in November.
Here are some of those possibilities.
She went to MSU and later UM to get her master’s, focusing on elementary education. She got elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1982 and then made enough of an impression there to get elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1988.
When Keenan’s three 4-year terms were up in 2000 she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, against Denny Rehberg. That was where she got most of her name recognition, the thing that everyone is saying is so important now.
I agree it’s important, but there’ll be nothing like that name recognition that comes with every national paper in the country splashing your name across itself when you’re chosen.
So how did Keenan do in that 2000 House race? Denny Rehberg got 211,418 votes to win, or 51.5% of the vote. Keenan took 189,971 votes, or just over 46%. The Libertarian that year (James Tikalsky) was inconsequential, taking just 9,132 votes, or 2%.
For more detailed analysis, and how Keenan's fundraising in 2000 compares with Lewis in 2014, check out the Flathead Memo.
Losing a race like that is frustrating, and especially when you’ve come to the end of your political time in Montana. Keenan took four year off to focus on spending time with her family, then in 2004 became president of National Abortion Rights Action League – Pro-Choice America, or NARAL. Keenan was pivotal in focusing the message not so much on abortions as preventing unwanted pregnancies through better access to birth control, something members of both parties could agree on.
Keenan’s unelected political work really took off after that and she began speaking at the Democratic National Conventions, appearing on Sunday morning talk shows, and writing guest columns for national newspapers, blogs and magazines.
Keenan left NARAL in 2013 and later that year joined Hilltop Public Solutions, a national political strategy and communications firm that focuses on helping Democratic candidates win tight and important races.
Hilltop has offices in several cities, including Billings, Portland, Denver, New York, and Washington. What’s troubling about Hilltop is that they’ve been supporting and advising Walsh’s campaign prior to this scandal, and perhaps even up to and into it. We saw how that was handled.
They’ve been doing the same for Lewis, and I suppose they’ve had a better showing there, although poll numbers are still down. I wonder about the organization, which as Ron Catlett pointed out in April, also includes Missoula City Councilwoman Caitlin Copple as well as Aaron Murphy, Bob Funk, Molly Bell, Barrett Kaiser, and Joe Splinter.
What we might do better looking at, however, is how much Keenan can raise money-wise. We know it’s going to take a lot of money to win this race against Daines, who has close to $2 million still. With the free poll points he got from Walsh he can probably sit on that for another few weeks.
We know that Nancy Keenan raised $619,450 in 2000 from individuals and $566,645 from PACs. Oh, and $500 from Indians that were in Umatilla, Oregon, of all places.
Oh well, I’ve gotten some out of state donations myself. When compared with the money raised by the individuals listed in this article, Keenan comes out on top. But can she get people fired up? I’ve never heard her talk, but it sounds like the reports today state quite clearly that she can.
All in all, she seems like a winner to me, one Democrats can rally behind. She might not pull off a win, but we’ve seen she can lose gracefully and still come back to make a helluva difference in Democratic politics.
Wanzenried was first elected to the House in 1990 with just $7,666 in donations, although that was quite a bit back then. He managed to get reelected again in 1992, raising $8,598, but then dropped out of politics until he was reelected to the House in 2000 with the help of $8,725 in donations. He served each year after that until he ran for the Senate in 2006 with $19,294 in donations.
He was reelected in 2010 with $19,369 in donations. Wanzenried did some great work in the legislature, serving on some key committees, including Finance and Claims, Highways and Transportation, Public Health, Welfare and Safety, and General Government.
It’s also clear Wanzenried had higher political aspirations, as seen by his run for Montana governor in the 2012 election, when he raised $26,308 in donations. He withdrew from that attempt pretty early, in July 2011, but I think he’s got some fight in him and I think he should challenge someone for a higher office than that he has now.
I wrote those last couple paragraphs back in January when I was thinking of challenging Wanzenried for SD 49. You can read about that fun stuff here.
Does he still have higher political aspirations? How do these rumors get started that people like Dave Wanzenried and Nancy Keenan could replace John Walsh for Montana Senate?
I have no idea, but if people want to go with that I’ll write up some bios on these folks so those not in the know can get there. None of the other blogs are doing that, so why not – I’ve got lots of history on this site!
- John Bohlinger: There was a new post on Montana Cowgirl that went up tonight speculating on John Bohlinger being chosen. I think it’d be a good idea, mainly because he got the second-most number of votes after Walsh in the June primary…it just makes sense. He also seems like a good guy from the few times I’ve met him.
- Denise Juneau: Current Superintendent of Public Instruction, won election in 2008 and again in 2012. She’s done in 2016 and probably has higher political aspirations. She was born in California in 1967 but moved to Billings by the first grade.
- Pam Bucy: Montana Commissioner of Labor and Industry, appointed by Bullock in 2012 after her defeat by Tim Fox in the Attorney General race. Bucy had earlier beaten out Jesse Laslovich in the primary. She was born in Townsend in 1968 and graduated from UM School of Law in 1998.
What it really comes down to is Walsh making the decision to step out of the race and serve in the Senate until January, as he should, ending his service to the state with dignity.
When he does bow out it’ll be up to the Montana Democratic Committee to organize itself and have a nominating convention somewhere, probably in Butte or Helena. Around 175 Democrats will then nominate candidates they think are sound and votes will be taken.
When someone gets enough votes they’ll be the person we get behind and do our damndest to beat Daines with. It’s still possible and I know Democrats are energized and excited to see a new face in this race, one we can vote for with our heads held high.