Supreme Court #1
So what do we know? Jim Rice got onto the Montana Supreme Court in 2001 when Republican governor Judy Martz appointed him. Prior to that he was born in Canada, got his BA in Political Science from MSU in 1979, then headed off to Missoula to be City Attorney for a time, moved to Helena to do similar, then got into the legislature, becoming Majority Whip in 1993.
You have to realize that Democrats controlled the Montana Legislature from 1993 to 2001, so he’s a Democrat, yet the conservative-leaning kind, i.e. someone who can win in a statewide race.
He did so in 2002, winning election outright to the bench with 85% of the vote and then again in 2006 with 84%. So who’s other guy running? I hear he’s from California, and that’s about all I need to.
Vote For: Jim Rice
Supreme Court #2
I’ve written about Mike Wheat a lot and I’m not going to waste your time doing so again right now. Nor am I going to waste time talking about ways to trip-up VanDkye or his sketchy corporate backers. I just hope the outfit running Wheat’s campaign can pull it off.
Vote For: Mike Wheat
Senate District 48
In 2011 she ran for the Missoula City Council, Ward 2, and won…something that was rather easy since she was the incumbent. Oh, but remember, she was appointed to that position in 2010 when Roy Houseman resigned his seat, so that might have something to do with her getting 92% of the vote.
So how’d she do in the next election? Well, Missoula City Council members serve for 4-year terms, so she’s not up again until 2015, although if she wins this race someone will have to be appointed to fill that Ward 2 spot.
In Missoula there are two City Council members for each ward, and right now conservative Adam Hertz is in her ward, which says to me that the ward is tilting right (it’s in that area of town where this is possible).
That doesn’t really matter to me – I live in Ward 6 and will have to contend with Ed Childers if I decide to run. He’s been serving on the City Council longer than anyone and I think it’s time for him to go.
Four terms is long enough (16 damns years, really?) and he already served as City Treasurer before that. Plus, he only garnered 58% of the vote in a 3-way race. He’s not secure, far from it.
But I digress. In the 2014 primary Wolken got 1,452 votes to Blackler’s 810…but both ran unopposed. It could be a bit closer in November, but I still feel the Democrats will take this seat.
Vote For: Cynthia Wolken
Senate District 49
The primary vote was 1,599 for the two GOP candidates and 2,392 for the two Democrats, and I’m expecting those numbers to remain about the same, percentage-wise.
Vote For: Diane Sands
Senate District 50
I hate races when no one else is running – it’s un-American. Oftentimes I just don’t vote in those races at all.
But in this race, there was going to be an opponent, at least until about three days before the primary. According to the March 11 Missoulian, Dick Haines was going to run against Facey but then dropped out so he could run against Diane Sands.
The reason for this? He thought he’d have a better chance against Diane Sands.
Shit, I don’t know Tom Facey very well, but I have met Diane Sands and she can tear you apart if she wants to. Tom Facey must be able to kill with a look. I guess he’ll be able to get things done in Helena, huh? Or else Haines made one helluva blunder.
Vote For: Tom Facey
House District 14
I’m sure we’ll see more of him later, but in this case it might not matter – there’s talk his opponent is a Republican as well. I think voting for the Democrat Caldwell would be better, but is Terry Caldwell a Democrat? I don’t know. Maybe Nick Schwaderer would be better here…for me, since he’s young and might be able to identify with me more.
Boy, I’m glad I’m not voting in this one.
Vote For: ???
House District 89
I was a lot more interested in this race when it was Sam Thompson and Lewie Schneller running in the primary. There were some allegations in this race, mainly about yard signs being pulled down or removed or what not.
Still, that might have just been post-election animosity. I did see Sam Thompson down at the UM Homecoming parade, so there’s that.
So now it’s just the one candidate. Remember, I don’t like this. And honestly, I don’t know much about Nate McConnell other than that he’s yet another lawyer running to represent our interests.
I’m getting damn sick of lawyers running this town…into the ground in my opinion. Will Nate McConnell be different? I think so. He has McConnell Law, a smaller private practice or firm. Looking at his site, it seems he’s trying to help out the little guy with medical, family, and DUI issues.
Nate McConnell seems like one of the good guys – which in my mind means he’s not tied up with those tax-hungry Democrats allied with Mayor John Engen. Those folks need to go, and the faster the better. The problem’s figuring out which Missoula Democrats are still in bed with him, and which aren’t. But that’s for future races, with opponents.
Vote For: Nate McConnell
House District 90
Here’s another race where there’s one candidate, although in this case I’m not surprised. Ellie Hill has been named one of the main people to watch in Montana, she ran unopposed in the primary, and she’s an incumbent.
But will she always be so lucky? Her desire to overturn the Castle Doctrine is a good one, but there will be stiff backlash, and it could cost her.
If she doesn’t have an opponent in the general election in 2016 I’ll be damn surprised. Of course, she could try for the Montana Senate at that point too.
Vote For: Ellie Hill
House District 91
Ah, our third race in a row with no opponent. This was the case in the primary as well, and like Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett is also an incumbent. But he’s also the minority whip in the House, meaning he’s one of the top dogs.
Bryce Bennett will have a long political future in Montana, if he continues to run in Missoula races or moves to administrative positions in Helena. A statewide race? I’m not sure that’d be successful.
But he’s competent and knows the issues and could do the job. Montana’s just not that accepting in many places. But that’s for another day
Vote For: Bryce Bennett
House District 92
This is one of the key Missoula races, and it’s important that Dave Strohmaier get that seat. Moore beat out Chuck Erickson for the seat in 2012, and it was a squeaker – 50.5% to 49.5%, or just 45 votes.
In the primary this year Moore got 538 votes on the Republican side while Strohmair got 921 running unopposed. In total, the GOP picked up 861 votes in that primary race between their two candidates, so it looks like this one will be tight.
Strohmaier is from Oregon, got a BA from Yale in Religion and then a Masters from UM in Environmental Studies. He became the chief historian for the Historical Research Associates of Missoula. And unlike the University of Montana, which doesn’t require their Montana historians to have books written about Montana (I’m talking to you Jeff Wiltse), Strohmaier has two, Drift Smoke and The Seasons of Fire.
Regardless, Strohmaier got into politics and managed to get elected to the Missoula City Council in 2006, served for a time, then jumped into the 2012 Democratic primary race for U.S. Representative, where he came in third.
I hope he beats Moore in November, and with your vote he might.
Vote For: Dave Strohmaier
House District 94
I won’t go back into it here, but I will say that Gary Marbut is probably not someone that is going to be able to work with a lot of people to get things done in the legislature. Well, not things we want to get done.
Vote For: Kimberly Dudik
House District 95
I know next to nothing about this race or Nancy Wilson. When I first saw this race I thought we had a member of Heart running. Well, that’s not the case, but we do have another unopposed race, so there’s not a whole lot to say here…or is there?
See, there was some weird shit going on back in March, right before the filing deadlines. Nancy Wilson had to retire from her HD95 seat, which she was elected to back in 2012, so she could get her retirement benefits from UM. Yeah, you can’t be a ‘state employee’ for six months after retiring, and since she’s technically still an employee – unpaid, mind you – she had to resign the seat.
The Missoulian called it a snafu, Todd Mowbray filled the seat for her, and then didn’t challenge her in the primary. I think voters in this district know what’s up.
Vote For: Nancy Wilson
House District 96
I bet this will be a race where fewer than 100 votes decides the winner, and I sure hope it’s Andrew Person.
In the primary Person picked up 730 votes to Hellegaard’s 603. But things have heated up and there’s been money spent and things could happen. I’ll probably write more on this one later.
Vote For: Andrew Person
House District 97
In the primary it was Geer taking 969 votes to Tschida’s 785. Let’s hope it stays that wide, around 200 votes. I think it will.
Vote For: Bill Geer
House District 98
I have no idea what happened to Jennifer Cahoon, but I sure would like to see the 535 votes she got go to Curtis so we can have another Democrat in Helena.
I wrote a letter to the Missoulian a couple weeks ago saying as much to the 118 people that voted for me, so hopefully this race shouldn’t even be a contest.
Vote For: Willis Curdy
House District 99
Here’s another unopposed race, and one I don’t know a whole lot about. I don’t know a whole lot about the candidate, either, other than he was born in Japan but has lived in Missoula for 34 years and was a firefighter for 25 years.
There’s more information on the Missoulian and he seemed like a pretty nice guy when I met him back in January. I’m sure he’ll do well in Helena.
Vote For: Tom Steenberg
House District 100
I would have liked to see Chuck Erickson take this contest in the primary, but that guy just has bad luck, and the deck against him. In this case it was Carolyn Squires dropping from the race back in March just before the filing deadline, allowing Olsen to get in.
I don’t know much about Andrea Olsen, other than she had a shit-ton of campaign signs. She’s a lawyer, but I’m not sure where (hopefully not at Datsopoulos).
Vote For: Andrea Olsen
Missoula County Commissioner District 1
I will tell you right now that I’m not voting for Vicky Gordon, but I sure the hell hope I’m not voting for another like we’ve had on the County Commission here in Missoula before.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about county taxes going up, proposals put forth that only benefit those living in close proximity to the City of Missoula, and really just an attitude that voters don’t matter.
That’s what I get from the two women we have on the Commission now. I don’t know much about Bill Carey, but it seems he’s kept his feet out of the shit for the most part, although I think we all know he’s done after this term.
So you really have a great opportunity to remake this County Commission into one that can begin to help the people again instead of hurting them. Jean Curtiss will be up for reelection in 2018 and Carey can run again in 2016, but he won’t. Rowley won’t be up for reelection until 2020, so she’ll become the dominant force for a time.
Smart Democrats will begin to look at this race down the road and figure out how they can take apart Carey’s record and the record of the Commission over the past decade to sail into office. Smart Democrats.
Vote For: Cola Rowley
Missoula County Clerk and Recorder/Treasurer
I don’t really know or care about this race one iota, and I have a feeling most people feel the exact same way. I do know Zeier has had this position for some time, so it’s probably best not to change horses in midstream, which we can’t do anyways.
Vote For: Vickie M. Zeier
Missoula County Sheriff
Of all the races in Missoula, this is about the only one I don’t know how I’ll vote on until I get into the ballot box and have the pen in my hand.
I think I’m like a lot of Missoulians, and I’m unsure on what to do for this race. I may just leave the circle blank and not vote for anyone. Maybe I’ll vote for Bill Parcell – he was shot in the line of duty, after all, while Clark and McDermott just seem to be throwing shots at each other.
Still, this race really gets down more than any other to the base problems we have in Missoula, and that’s corruption. Right now we’ve got a mayor running amok, a city council more timid than a mouse when it comes to challenging him, and a county commission that too often falls lock-step behind him.
I’ve made it plain I think this is bad, so I try to figure out which officials and candidates in Missoula are good and won’t screw working people, and those that are bad and want to do so all the time.
It’s hard, damn so. My gut tells me Josh Clark is the one to stand up to the County Commission and the Mayor, but I also feel he’s Republican…or have I just been suckered-in by the Democrats’ propaganda?
Like I said, I often think about leaving this one blank.
Vote For: ???
Missoula County Justice of the Peace
This is another race that’s been in the news a lot, mainly for all the wrong reasons. First there were allegations against Lowy, mainly about getting support from someone that was already working in the office. That was a conflict of interest, and a freshman mistake, if you ask me.
Far more serious, in my opinion, are the allegations against Andersen. After being investigated by the Commissioner of Political Practices, Andersen was charged with knowingly hiding $8,000 worth of campaign mailings.
That’s a big deal, considering the primary race that had five candidates. The top two advanced, with Lowy getting 31.7% of the vote and Andersen getting 34.1%. Or is it? I mean, Beverly Smith got just 15.6% of the vote, so I’m not sure one massive mailing before the absentee ballots went out would have allowed Andersen to get that much of a leg-up on Lowy.
Or would it? Sometimes the only piece of information I got on a candidate in my district before the election was a mailer that went out before the primary. I got one from Diane Sands and I know a good 300 or so people got one from me. In fact, I’m confident a good percentage of my 118 votes can be traced to that mailing.
It’s awfully hard to prove that, however, and I sure did some door knocking too. But my race was way low-scale compared to these two races that were doing fundraisers and such. Could that mailer have been enough to bump Smith’s 2,746 votes higher, getting closer to the 5,985 Andersen got? That’s a difference of 3,239 votes…can that really matter?
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl ruled it could be serious enough to have her removed from office. He’s referred the matter to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney, although it’ll most likely result in a fine, or a slap on the wrist, which is less than she’s received before, although her getting fired is pretty questionable to me…mainly because I’m like many and have no idea what happened.
It’s this race – coupled with the sheriff’s race – that has me wondering who to vote for. The sheriff’s race is a bit more complicated because they claim one candidate is a Republican. There’s none of that doubt here – these are both Democrats.
But it’s this law firm called Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind that’s perhaps the most dangerous, and needs the most reporting upon…although that’ll have to wait until after the election.
In my opinion the Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind firm needs to have their license to practice taken away, or at least their business charter or license.
Why? Well, they’re corrupt, and have engaged in corrupt political practices in many of Missoula’s races this year, specifically the sheriff’s race and the justice of the peace race. I’m sure they’d done so in the past as well, but I probably shouldn’t say that or they’d sue my ass – remember, they fight for the rich, not the poor.
Hell, even the editors at the Missoulian hint at their corruption. And for Datsopoulos, it’s a classic Catch-22 – they're either corrupt or they're so incompetent they can’t do their job correctly. Either way, do you want them representing you?
Motl said they’ll probably have to register as a political committee if they support candidates in the future. They seem shady to me, and I know I’m not the only one.
So I’ll vote for Lowy in this race, as I did in June.
Vote For: Matthew Lowy
Maybe you even liked my analysis of where the Democrats are headed, or where they need to head if that political machine – controlled by the Democrats and which stifles Democracy in this town – is to be broken.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you can share this with some of your friends…and tell them to vote on November 4.