I got no response.
Now, that didn’t surprise me much.
- First, we know that Montana Democrats can’t support anyone during the primaries – it might look bad and give someone an unfair edge;
- Then, I was a candidate from HD 98 emailing them, and I perhaps giving me that information would give me an unfair edge in that race;
- Finally, Montana Democrats may have had inept leadership during the 2014 races, as seen by the firing of their Executive Director a week ago.
Those are all reasons why you don’t read much about up-and-coming Montana Democrats. I suppose there are some old has-been Democrats that also feel threatened by these whippersnappers, and since that might put their precarious positions in an even more precarious spot, it’s best to keep the limelight away from them, far away.
I hate that tired old attitude, and I blame it for the immense amount of red we see on Montana election maps. This benefits the top dogs of the Montana Democratic Party, but you and I it benefits not at all.
So we’ll profile these young Democrats, and hope to hell they can save us from ourselves…someday.
Zach Brown is one young Montana Democrat to watch. He served as president of ASUM at UM and then got elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2014,winning House District 63 outside of Bozeman 61% to 39%. Other than that, I just don’t know much about this young man.
(Check out this Montana Legislative District Map to get the whole picture)
Ryan Lynch is a Montana Democrat was unopposed in the House District 74 general in 2014, a race he won in 2012 55% to 45%. That’s around the Butte area, a place that doesn’t see much in the way of competition…obviously. That’s great for those candidates, but it’s not too good for Montana Democrats trying to win the state. In other words, having Butte folks in key leadership positions makes little sense a lot of times…but that’s just my opinion.
I’ve covered Bryce Bennett before on this website, and he’ll go places. Those places include key spots in administration, they don’t include statewide office. You can argue that with me, but I’d rather you argue with the bigoted voters in our rural areas. So a jaunt in the House, then the jump to the Senate. After that perhaps a spot in the governor’s administration or a run at Missoula mayor.
Kimberly Dudik could go far. Like Bennett and the other Missoula Democrats to follow, I’ve talked about her a bit on this site before. She’s married to an up-and-coming lawyer as well (Matthew Lowy), so there’s that. Still, with the stiff resistance she faced in 2014, and the Montana Democrats complete disregard for close elections being seen as a problem, trouble could be on the horizon. And that means a jump to the Montana Senate will cost at least $30,000.
Andrew Person should have a bright future – he’s a veteran and will be a lawyer soon. It’s hard to run against veterans, as one of our Missoula Tea Party nuts found out in November. Running against lawyers is always hard. I haven’t heard much from Person in the legislature this year, just a few bills. He does write letters to the paper and has a good network of supporters, however. I’d imagine he’ll be around for awhile.
Chris Goodridge wanted to represent House District 52 right in Billings. The problem was that Montana Republicans took that area over a long time ago, and Goodridge got beat 47% to 53% (hey, I got beat by 90% in my primary race). Still, just 2,822 votes were cast in that race, and Goodridge got 1,322 of them. It’s important to remember we have lots of support, because many times the media makes it out that we have none. 1,300 people is something. So that’s why I’d keep my eye on this person, one that feels ready to go into an “unwinnable” situation to try and win.
Jesse Laslovich is someone to watch. He first served in the Montana House of Representatives from 2000 to 2004 and then the Montana State Senate from 2004 to 2010 out of District 43 in Anaconda. I remember seeing him on the floor of the House when I was a lowly printer in the basement, coming up to watch the shenanigans from time to time.
Laslovich resigned his senate position in 2010 so he could go work as chief legal counsel for state Auditor Monica Lindeen. In 2012 he ran against Pam Bucy in the primary for Montana Attorney General and got 49.5% compared to Bucy’s 50.5%. Just 887 votes separated the two. Yes, I think this guy is going places.
I like Pan Noonan. I’ve never met him, but he seems like a likable guy. What’s more, he’s got some good ideas, or can at least carry them through. For instance, he’s pushing the governor’s healthcare plans this year…not the most popular thing. He’s been in the Montana House since 2010 and won each race easily. I’m sure we’ll hear more from him in the Montana Senate.
I don’t really know who Matt McKenna is, and I think he’s got his eye more on National than Montana, but I thought I’d include him here. He was former communications director for Tester, a revolving door position that in this case seemed to benefit the Republicans. You never know when the shit will hit the fan, both in the Capitol and Montana. Things can change quickly, and people that could have been heading for the stars might find themselves heading to Helena instead. You never know, you just never do, and in Oregon they know this well now.
Here’s another name I don’t know, Denver-native Barrett Kaiser. I think that’s because Hill Top picked him off. This leads me to believe two things. One, he’s so good that we need him out of elected politics where he can be a greater help. He’s so bad that we have to take him out of elected politics so he doesn’t mung things up for everyone else. I’m not sure which is which, but you can read more on this paid-pol Barrett Kaiser on the Montana Democrats’ dark money site.
The following folks have had their names mentioned before when it comes to possible candidates. I don’t know a lot about these people, and maybe not all of them are young. But perhaps they can help turn this state blue again, and that’s what we need to be thinking about. Most of these names come from an August 7, 2014, post on MT Cowgirl.
- Carl Borgquist (Bozeman): President of Grasslands Renewable Energy
- Ed Smith (Helena): Clerk of Montana Supreme Court
- Mike Phillips (Bozeman): Montana Senator from Bozeman
- Dan Villa (Anaconda): Former Schweitzer staffer, member of House from 2004-2009
- Anna Whiting Sorrell (St. Ignatius): Director of Billings Indian Health Services
- Diane Smith (Whitefish): Gave to Republicans, can win Republican votes
- Jacquie Helt (Helena): UK-native and strong supporter of Montana AFL-CIO
- Elizabeth Best (Great Falls): Ran for Montana Supreme Court in 2012, always thankless races to be in
- Casey Schreiner (Great Falls): Serves in HD 21 near Great Falls, proponent of mental health and prison reforms
- Mike Cooney (Helena): House member from 1976-80, Montana Secretary of State from 1989-2001. (related to former Governor Cooney, anyone?)
- Andy Shirtliff (Helena): Small-business ombudsman for Governor Bullock
Not on the list and not happy? Wanted to see someone on the list that’s not there? And where the hell is Amanda Curtis?
Hey, I’m not perfect, and this list isn’t perfect either. My advice would be to start your own website, make it clear you’re posting once a week, and begin doing what I do. It’s tough, but you can do it. And that goes for you Republicans, too. After all, I just profiled 21 Montana Democrats, and that hopefully will give them an edge against your candidates.