Which will have a bigger impact on your daily life?
There are 144 days until City Council elections.
Steve Bullock has 276 days to change his mind and file for Senate. March 16 is the filing deadline.
The 2020 Election is 508 days away.
144 vs. 276
Which will have a bigger impact on your daily life?
There are 144 days until City Council elections.
Steve Bullock has 276 days to change his mind and file for Senate. March 16 is the filing deadline.
The 2020 Election is 508 days away.
Well, people found out pretty quickly yesterday.
Around 7:30 in the morning she sent out a tweet announcing her 2020 gubernatorial bid on the Democratic ticket, the first Dem to announce.
I caught wind of it at 8, another blogger did an hour after that, but it wasn’t until a few minutes before noon that one of the state newspapers put up a story on it, and five more hours after that before the AP picked up on it.
Now let’s contrast that with today’s announcement.
Just after 5 AM today, Helena’s KTVH news station put up a story about Casey Schreiner running for governor, mentioning that he’s the “first prominent Dem to enter 2020 gov’s race.”
Kind of a slap in the face to Neill, there...but justified. She did a single term in the legislature, from 2013 to 2015. Schreiner also began in the legislature in 2013, but managed to keep getting elected, and serves there still, having reached House Minority Leader status.
We do know he won’t be serving in the legislature next session if he keeps running for governor, though he could switch before the March filing deadline.
So what we saw over the past 24 hours is the same thing we saw back in April.
On April 2, Tom Winter announced he’d be running for Congress.
Most were like...WTF?!?...as he doesn’t have a whole lot of elected experience.
Well sure enough, come April 5 we have Kathleen Williams come out to announce she’s running for Congress. Any thunder and excitement that Winter had developed over the course of that week’s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was completely wiped-out by Williams’ Friday announcement.
At least Winter had three days. Poor Reilly didn’t even have a full day to relish being the only candidate.
But we suspected this would happen. Once that first brave soul jumps into the cold lake, they all suddenly find their courage.
It’s just after 9 AM now and the Schreiner announcement is about the only thing they’re talking about on Twitter’s #mtpol today. Even blew all the Bullock-Iowa and anti-Gianforte talk out of the water...at least for a few hours.
By the end of the day yesterday I’d received a couple emails and a few tweets. Most were speculating on Reilly’s chances; a few were highlighting her record and past races.
“She was one of our worst local reps,” someone in Bozeman mentioned to me. “And lost to a charter schools lobbyist.”
Neill is relatively young. She’s 45, single, was born in Livingston, has a BA in geophysics from UM. When she ran for the legislature in 2012 she raised $9,000 to beat HD 62’s Dan Skattum by 335 votes.
Two years later she was unable to keep her seat, losing to Debra Lamm by 136 votes.
It was an off-year following Obama’s second election, and Neill actually received 537 fewer votes than she had the last time she ran. Running without coattails to hang onto always makes it tougher.
“What kind of joke is this Reilly Neill filing for governor?” someone asked via email last night. “I guess it shows how bad the bench is for the democrats. A one term no name person who couldn't beat right wing wacko Debra Lamm in a democrat district.”
Since her 2014 loss, Neill’s been sitting on the sidelines. She didn’t run against Lamm again in 2016 nor did she do so in 2018.
Casey Schreiner is another beast entirely.
This guy has won more than one election and he’s risen to a leadership role in his Party. I’ve been speculating for over a month now that he’d be running for something larger than the legislature.
He ran in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. For those first three races, we know he raised over $25,000.
He used his money wisely after the 2016 race, and still had $4,600 in the bank as he started his 2018 race. He raised about $8,000 more, according to his campaign finance reports on COPP.
Both Neill and Schreiner were raising comparable amounts in their legislative runs, though if you asked most people, they’d say Schreiner is the clear front-runner...for now.
Most suspect Mike Cooney will get into the race.
Here’s a guy who’s dad slapped an LBJ sticker on his side of the headboard while his mom slapped a Barry Goldwater sticker on her side.
I have no idea what Cooney raised to win his legislative seat back in 1976. He served until 1980, when he went to work for Baucus in D.C. full-time. He quit that gig to run for Secretary of State in 1988, a race he won. He’d win two more of them before stepping down in 2001.
Cooney ran for governor in 2000 and lost. In 2002 he ran for and won SD 26. He was reelected in 2006, though by that time the district had been changed to SD 40. That same year he became an administrator at Labor, and for a short time in 2010 he was the interim head of the Historical Society. It was in 2015 that Bullock pulled him from Labor to be the next Lieutenant Governor.
Everyone suspects that Cooney will run for governor next year, and with this week’s two announcements, it’s likely he’ll be forced to announce in a week or so himself...if that’s what he intends to do.
I think it is.
And I think others will still enter the Democratic gubernatorial field after that.
I don’t think any of them have a shot at winning against Fox or Gianforte, but they do have a good chance at building some name-recognition for future statewide runs. Democrats desperately need individuals that are brave enough to throw themselves into the fire for this, as the Dem bench is in bad shape right now.
I typically encourage people to take the City Council to Legislature to PSC to Statewide to Congressional route...but in trying times like these when there’s a dearth of candidates, you have to take what you can get.
Voters don’t have to.
They’ll have a clear choice in November 2020 between a Democrat and a Republican and - barring a serious health scare with Trump or the economy - I’m sure it’ll play out that way.
I’m not going to get excited about anyone running as a Democrat for anything, as I just don’t think they can beat the Republicans, either nationally or here in Montana.
I don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for anymore, but I’m pretty sure they’re not interested in helping me.
A lot of Americans feel the same way, and a majority of Montanans do.
I think we’ll see that play out quite clearly next June - when Republicans turn-out an incredibly higher number of voters for their primary than Democrats do for theirs - and in November, when that same trend continues.
Last night Pete Talbot put up a new post on the Montana Post. I encourage you to read it.
He’s the only one worth reading on that site anymore. Sadly, he only puts up three to four posts a month.
He’s getting tired and worn-out by it all. He’s frustrated with a Democratic Party that’s lost its way.
RD has been putting up exceptional posts this week about the problems in Missoula, and I encourage you to read that site as well.
We currently have a week to go until the municipal election filing deadline, June 17.
There’s been sparse reporting about the various city council elections happening around the state.
This is odd to me. Currently there’s a lot of hoopla over 2020 candidates - statewide and nationally - and yet our local city councils probably have more direct impact on our daily lives.
I suspect that come next Monday night or Tuesday, we’ll see some write-ups in the newspapers and on the TV news sites.
Until then - and pretty much for the next 5 months after - it’ll be up to those various city council candidates to get themselves elected.
And that takes work.
I ran for office in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Lost ‘em all.
I ponied-up my $150 this year to run again, too.
Filing began on April 18, and I filed that day. With a week to go, we currently have the following candidates here in Missoula:
Recognize any of those names? Probably not.
Heidi West and Gwen Jones are the only two elected incumbents running again. Mirtha Becerra is also an incumbent, but was never elected.
So that means half the seats this year are open seats.
It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, and what the candidates do to distinguish themselves.
At the moment, most of them are confining their efforts to Facebook. I haven’t seen a single letter-to-the-editor from any of them.
The only one that has a candidate website is Nick Shontz. Three others have websites that are under construction.
Most are sitting around waiting for the filing deadline. Chances are good that we’ll have some last-minute filers, and that’ll shake things up a bit.
Most are dreading this. Some - like myself - are hoping for it.
For instance, in my Ward 4 race it’ll be an obvious Democrat (Sherrill) running against a conservative (me).
It’ll be damn hard for me to win in Ward 4 unless I have another Democrat that’ll split the vote between themselves and Sherrill.
Two years ago the two Democrats in Ward 4 split the vote, getting 29% and 25%. The strong conservative in the race got 42%.
If we add those votes all up, the two Democrats got 2,103 votes and the two conservatives got 1,768.
So that’s a difference of 335 votes. One big change is that 171 new residents were brought into Ward 4 when the boundaries were gerrymandered in March. They were brought in from the more conservative Ward 5.
There are over 5,400 houses or apartments in Ward 4, with about 12,300 people living in them.
31% of them voted in the last city council race.
As usual, the biggest obstacle will be apathy. People just don’t care. Oh, they’ll complain, but when it comes time to vote, they won’t.
I suspect that here in Ward 4, most will vote for Sherrill. She took over the Five Valleys Land Trust after Grant Kier stepped down to run for Congress last year.
So far Sherrill is endorsed by:
I’m sure you recognize a few of those names. Most are establishment Democrats here in Missoula.
No surprises there.
Mayor Engen wants another rubber stamp on the City Council to mindlessly vote ‘yes’ for his agenda.
The last person he wants is someone like me, who’s going to question that agenda.
You can see Amber Sherrill’s Facebook candidate page, which has posts going back toward the middle of May.
She doesn’t list a lot of problems she sees with local government, nor does she offer up any issues she’s focused on. She doesn’t tell us much of anything, in fact.
I’m sure she’s a great person...but like I said, another rubber stamp for Engen.
So we’ll see all the big endorsements go toward Sherrill in this race, and probably most of the money, too. I suspect she’ll have the shiny mailers to hand out and mail out, and some good-looking yard signs. She’ll of course have access to the Democratic Voter Access Network (VAN), which will help with fundraising and identifying strong Democratic voters.
I’ll have none of that.
What I will have is knowledge, and a strong work ethic. With those two things, I can win this race.
It’s gonna be tough, damn tough. But it’s not impossible.
I think most of it boils down to how many doors you can knock on, getting that one-on-one voter contact. And the big trick there is not getting burned out and quitting after you’ve done it for a few weeks, or even a few months.
Most candidates do get burned out, and that’s why so many rely on money to carry them through.
I suspect most of the City Council candidates will spend a lot of money on Facebook ads. I haven’t used Facebook in nearly a year and deleted my account before the last election.
I was hoping to get access to the GOP VAN, but local Republicans told me that the state party lets their subscription lapse in off-years. That makes no sense to me. I did email the state GOP about the VAN, but haven’t heard back.
So I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, which is knocking on every door in the ward.
Yep, lots of work.
It’ll be interesting to see how these races turn out. I’ll keep you updated.
Back in November 2015, the Montana Democratic Party got $43,000 from Hillary’s PAC, and the very next day they sent $43,000 off to the DNC.
A month later they did the exact same thing with $20,000.
In total, over $64,000 was laundered through the Montana Democratic Party to benefit the DNC and Hillary’s 2016 campaign.
You rub my back, I’ll rub yours.
Alas, Steve Bullock found out the hard way this week that it doesn’t work that way.
I guess the DNC pulled the rug out from under him, changing the rules that allow you into the presidential debates if you either get 1% in three different polls or raise money from 650,000 individual donors, with individuals representing at least 20 states.
Supposedly he was in and then he was out.
It just seems odd to me. I mean, here in Montana we went along with Hillary’s collusion with the DNC to launder money so individuals could get past the $10,000 individual donor threshold, something that allowed them to give $660,000 if done in 2015 and 2016.
Montana and 33 others states joined this charade to allow Hillary to cheat her way to the nomination. Surely Steve Bullock knew of this. He is one of the state’s top delegates to the DNC’s convention, after all. And he did endorse her before the election.
Guess it’s more a case of ‘you rub my back, I’ll kick you in the balls.’
Still, perhaps there was some blowback.
Over a year ago, Bill De Blasio blasted the DNC for their collusion with Hillary to cheat everyone else out of the nomination.
Then last winter we learned how much Bullock had screwed De Blasio over by sending that serial-harasser Kevin O’Brien to New York to work for De Blasio. Previously O’Brien had worked for Bullock when Bullock was heading up the DGA.
De Blasio must be smiling this week. Unlike Bullock, he’ll be in the debates, having reached the 1% polling threshold.
I never thought Democrats would congratulate themselves so much on getting 1% in the polls, but they’re falling all over themselves this year to tell you that.
Real winners, those Democrats.
Back in 2016, the Cascade County Republican Central Committee said it would support Sheridan Hope Buck against Steve Fitzpatrick in that year’s election for HD 20.
The reason for this was that Fitzpatrick wanted to protect Montana’s open primary laws, while the more hardline Republicans wanted to get rid of those.
The thinking of the hardliners is that there’s always a chance some Democrats could vote in their primary, typically for the more ‘moderate’ Republican candidate.
Hardline Republicans hate this, and have hated it for years. They see this as one of the main reasons why ‘liberal’ legislation, such as Obamacare in Montana, gets passed - too many moderate Republicans in the legislature siding with Democrats.
The best place to read about the infighting in Great Falls is in this 66-page political complaint from May of that year.
Relations between Al Olszewski and Steve Fitzpatrick soured during the debate over HB 318 last session, the central committees bill.
Fitzpatrick said that the only reason the hardliners wanted to sacrifice Colstrip was so they could “protect corruption and fraud going on in our central committees.”
I think the Olszewski angle is interesting, as he’s once again making a long-shot bid for governor, and could play a spoiler role in what’ll likely be a tight primary fight between Fox and Gianforte. No matter the results of that primary, moderates and hardliners will probably be at each other’s throats more than ever before.
That’s why what happens at next week’s GOP state convention is so critical.
The Helena convention starts on Wednesday the 13th and ends that Friday.
Sheridan Hope Buck might have a shot at getting elected chairwoman of the Montana GOP. She has the support of some of the more hardliners. The moderates might want to go with someone like Don K or Terry Nelson.
Well, that’s how hardliner Matthew Monforton sees it. He did a single term in the legislature a couple years ago. I haven’t read anything else about this convention, so he might know more than the rest of us.
All I can find out about the 59-year-old Buck is that she lived in Texas for quite some time. I don’t know anything else about her. Maybe the state’s corporate media will look into her, but I doubt it.
As usual, we probably won’t know what’s going on in Helena next week until it’s already finished. And what does happen in Helena next week will probably have a big impact on how the GOP goes after the legislature next year. In many ways that’ll hurt Democrats, but I think Democrats might find some opportunities there as well.
We’ll see how it plays out.
I’ve succeeded in unsubscribing from both Raph Graybill and Bryce Bennett’s emails.
I never signed up for them in the first place. Mostly, they just ask for money all the time.
In a way, it makes sense. Running a statewide campaign in a state that’s 147,000 square miles is pretty tough.
The general idea is that if you raise a shit-ton of money, you can win.
Didn’t work out that way for Gianforte in ‘16.
What we do know is that you can’t knock on the state’s 358,000 doors.
From my personal experience, you can do about 50 doors between 7 and 9 each night. Over the course of a year, that’d add up to just 18,250 doors you knocked on, if you did it every night.
In the 520 days we have until Election 2020, you could hit up 26,000 doors.
282,000 people voted in 2018.
So the idea is that you raise money, saturate the airwaves, send out a small-forest-worth of junk mail, and get a gaggle of volunteers to make phone calls and knock on those doors.
That’s the general structure, regardless of who the candidate is or what political party they’re running under.
And then we get to personality, or the likability of a candidate. This is typically the deciding factor.
That’s why I know Joe Biden won’t make it past the convention next summer. The guy’s boring. Oh, he might have been interesting...before Trump came along. Brian Schweitzer was also interesting...until Trump came along.
Trump steals the thunder. He says what Americans are too scared to say themselves, though most of them think it and silently agree with him.
Biden’s in the upper 30-percentile range right now according to all the polls, and Bernie Sanders - his closest competitor - is only getting 15% to 20%.
#3 is Liz Warren, with around 5% to 10%. The other 21 clown car candidates are lucky to get a few percentage points.
What’s driving this is of course the corporate media.
None of us would have ever heard of most of these Dems if the national news networks weren’t pushing them.
Anyone that thinks he has a shot needs to have their head examined.
That’s a big reason I refuse to discuss Bullock or Wilmott Collins on this site. Those guys are going nowhere fast, and they’re spending a lot of money to get there.
With 520 to go, we’re just waiting. Waiting for that ‘new guy’ to come along to tell the American people that the other 24 clown car dems are emperors with no clothes.
Corporate, establishment, swamp-creature Dems...the whole lot of ‘em. Even Bernie’s lost his appeal. Over the past few years, Trump stole his thunder as well.
I frequently mention to people that I hope the Democrats give me someone worth voting for in 2020. They didn’t in 2016. It ain’t looking good now.
Here in Montana it’s a joke.
Barring a serious health scare or an economic collapse, Trump will take the state by 20 points next year. I suspect Gianforte will ride his coattails into the governor’s mansion, while Rosendale will do the same to take over Gianforte’s seat in Congress.
Those three races will steal the air from the room, helping to ensure the PSC stays firmly in the GOP’s hands. We already know how the legislature will go.
There are only two races the Dems can win - OPI and SoS.
Dems will actually have a harder chance taking Secretary of State if Corey Stapleton isn’t running and it’s an open seat. Stapleton’s financial incompetence should be the issue, one that hits Montanans over the head again and again and again on the airwaves.
But again, with Trump at the top of the GOP ticket next year, there’ll be a lot of trickle down votes for statewide GOP candidates.
Nationally, Dems need to stop running candidates that are from cities or Congress. These people are clueless as to what Americans care about. Here in Montana, it’s the same way. Bunch of city folk thinking they know the problems of everyone else.
Or am I wrong here?
Have Dems been winning lately and I just haven’t noticed?
Dems lose. They lose all the time. It’s a dying party and just about everyone knows it but them.
I hope over the course of the next 520 days the Democrats give me someone worth voting for, both nationally and here in Montana.
I just have a feeling they won’t.
I’m getting worn-out by our incessant culture wars here in America, which are mainly pitting postmodernists against the religious. Our corporate media is driving this.
It’s quite funny, when you think about it - despite CBS having 222 reporters, NBC having 200 reporters, and ABC having 179...all three major corporate news networks give us the exact same stories each night.
Rich global shareholders telling rich New York executives to tell rich reporters what to tell us, and we eat it up each night with dinner.
I don’t think the message of those global shareholders is the same message this country was founded upon.
Traditional American values like believing in God, the Bible, universal moral standards, sanctity of life, family values, marriage between a man and a woman, the Christian founding of America, and historic truth are under assault in this country.
Seeking to take their place are the opposite values: the denial of God, belief in biological evolution, rejection of the Bible, faith in a relative moral code, abortion on demand, doing away with traditional family values, abolishing the idea of marriage as between a man and a woman, and denying our nation’s Christian heritage.
I get a lot of emails from people telling me they don’t feel the Democratic Party represents them anymore.
I can understand why. The only message the Dems seem to push today is one that stresses moral relativism, no absolutes, inclusion, evolution, collectivist/progressive ideology, environmentalism, feminism, abortion, pagan spirituality, transgenderism, gay rights, pacifism, social justice, and of course free stuff.
The only people getting excited about the Democratic message are those that don’t work and think capitalism is evil. They’d rather complain than try to make things better. When confronted with obstacles, it’s not about overcoming them - they find ways to avoid them, or better yet, accommodate them. The idea of fighting for anything is against everything they stand for.
Like I said, I’m getting worn out.
I’m a little confused by ours here in Missoula.
For instance, on May 20 it was announced that the city would give a private developer $1.8 million for their private-sector project, a $22 million downtown hotel.
The very next day, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Missoula announced they’d be closing their doors for good because they couldn’t come up with $120,000.
Think about that for a minute.
Maybe do the math.
$1.8 million / $120,000 = 15.
15 years we could have funded Big Brothers and Big Sisters here in Missoula for what we just gave to a group of rich developers.
Those developers didn’t really need the money. Those kids sure the hell did.
Last week the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Missoula said it would close. They’d been open for 49 years, serve 103 kids a year, and have a few staff members.
Back in March the organization put a post up on Facebook detailing their troubles:
"Our organization is going through a critical time and needs your help. Over the last two years, our annual state, federal, and private grants have been cut. We have done everything in our power to deal with the loss of a third of our budget, but we are still coming up short. Our goal is to raise one year's operating expenses so that we can fully develop and adapt our new funding model."
That Facebook message was part of a broader push that “published multiple articles, launched a social media campaign, and aired public service announcements in an effort to raise funds.”
Scott Johnson, who’s been heading the local chapter for 30 years, admits he should have done more back then to let people know they would probably have to close.
Funding issues have hit the national organization before, both nationally and at the local level.
Two years ago in West Virginia, a Big Brothers and Big Sisters chapter lost $80,000 in private donor funding after they accepted a $10,000 grant to do LGBT training, though they were able to make $30,000 in donations after the story broke nationally, which still left them with a $50,000 deficit.
That’s kind of the thing here in Missoula - donations might come in now that the local chapter is closing, but it won’t be enough to keep the place open long-term.
Last year the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Kentucky closed. It’d been open for 40 years, served 100 kids a year, and had three staff members.
Again, it was funding issues, mostly a cutback in what kind of grants they’d been receiving. Just like here in Missoula, they cancelled the fundraiser they'd been going to have. They knew it just wouldn't get the job done.
The biggest news about the organization’s problems came in 2013, however.
$20 million in in federal grant money went missing, though it was accounting errors that caused it, not misuse of funds.
From 1994 to 2013, the federal government provided Big Brothers and Big Sisters with $480 million in grant money.
That might sound like a lot, but Intel has received $5.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies since 2011 alone. Boeing has received $14 billion, the largest recipient in the country.
Before the 2013 shakeups, Big Brothers and Big Sisters was viewed favorably in Washington.
Two of their programs alone received nearly $70 million in Justice Department grants since 2004 - the National Mentoring program and the Tribal Youth National Mentoring program. I’m sure the latter is quite beneficial for Montana. In fact, I'd argue our rural communities need that program.
But last year, Trump’s budget cuts went into effect and $54 billion in non-defense spending was cut, something that resulted in the elimination of 66 different federal programs, but also a lot of grant money for organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
I don’t think that federal funding is coming back anytime soon. 'Our' representatives in Washington don't care about kids that don't have role models in their lives. They might say they do, but their funding choices say otherwise. And none of the so-called 'compasionate conservatives' have the balls to challenge the president on this.
So where can groups like Big Brothers and Big Sisters get their funding?
It’s clear that private donors aren’t up to the task, at least not here in Missoula. Too many families are feeling pinched economically at the moment to give much of anything.
What about state funding?
I think it is a strong possibility...in places like California or New York or Oregon, where Democrats might fund that. Here in Montana with a red legislature? That’s not going to happen anytime soon.
That leaves local funding, if it’s even a possibility.
I’m not sure. The word “non-profit” is only listed 8 times in the city’s current 384-page budget.
The greatest possibility probably lies with conduit bonds:
“The City may act as an issuer for a private or non-profit party. In these cases the City acts as a ‘conduit’ issuer of tax-exempt bonds as defined by federal and state law. Conduit bonds are secured solely by revenues of the private or non-profit party, and are not an obligation of the City.”
Reading that, I just don’t think it’s going to happen, either.
And I know some don't want taxpayer money going to non-profits. I personally feel it's better than giving it to rich people. Also, investments here will save us money later, particularly in jail costs, healthcare costs, and other societal problems that arise from kids without a strong support network in their lives.
I suppose if the City Council wanted to vote to help Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Missoula, they could.
It’s just that right now, they don’t want to. No one is even talking about it. It’s frustrating.
I think we have the money. In fact, I know we have it. I mean...we just spent $25,000 for a dog sculpture back in February.
And of course, the $1.8 million we just gave to the rich developers.
That money could have helped a lot of disadvantaged kids. A lot.
Some people just don’t get it.
“Some think Austin Knudsen will run for AG, but he’d do better in this race. Bennion already has AG wrapped up, has had for years.”
That’s what I told you over a week ago when we burst some bubbles.
The ‘this race’ I was referring to was the U.S. House race.
Well, sure as shit, what happens today? Knudsen announces he’s running for AG.
God, I have to shake my head.
“So-called conservative Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen recently talked about making hard choices on what government should spend its money on in tough fiscal times. What's so hypocritical and humorous is that he conveniently leaves out the fact that his family agriculture operation receives over $40,000 a year in taxpayer-funded agricultural subsidies to keep his business afloat — which is nearly the average annual salary for working Montanans.”
That’s from a letter-to-the-editor, way back in the summer of 2017.
That’s how much Knudsen had to get from taxpayers to keep his business in business since that letter appeared.
Imagine how he’d run the $200 million a year AG’s office.
For the policy wonks, we went ahead and looked at Montana farm subsidies last year.
As expected, it’s typically rich people receiving most of the assistance. 85% of national farm subsidies go to the largest farms in the nation.
Knudsen alone has received $705,000 of taxpayer money for his farm.
I just don’t understand why people think they can beat Bennion.
Get his book from the library. This guy’s smart. His personal story is compelling as well. I can’t imagine the struggles he and his wife have had to endure with their son and his condition. When that story enters the campaign, Bennion’s going to win a lot of votes.
And you know what? I don’t think Bennion needs taxpayer subsidies to keep his business in business.
As usual, James Conner over at Flathead Memo sums up the landscape quite well.
Nationally, Democrats bet the farm that their Russian collusion story would work.
Now all they can hope for is a serious economic recession. Nothing else is going to ruin Trump’s chances.
2020 is going to be a Republican year for Montana. The trick is getting the right Republicans in.
Jon Bennion is that right Republican while Austin Knudsen is not.
By the late-1930s, Joe Howard had been working as a newspaper reporter in Great Falls for fifteen years.
He’d had success - the city’s people liked his work, as did those living in the rural areas. The Indians respected him for respecting them. And national audiences finally caught a glimmer of what Montana was really like through the national magazines that published Howard’s work.
But some thought he should do more.
Bud Guthrie was one that encouraged Joe to write more than just newspaper and magazine articles. So he did, on evenings and weekends for five years, mostly at his cabin. A book was produced. He sent it to Yale University Press, and they put it out in 1943.
The book is Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome. It’s 340-pages long and divided into 27 chapters that are themselves divided into 7 parts: Prairie, and prophet, prospector, puncher, plow, panic, and at long last, planning.
“The state’s isolation is an old, old story and responsible for much of its economic and social maladjustment,” Howard writes early in the work.
The book’s take on the corporate climate in Montana angered many of the state’s influential citizens. In the early years, it was often hard to find a copy of the book. In Butte, copies could only be found in bars and only “if you asked the right way.”
Time changes our outlook, and by 1981 the book was voted the best book ever written about Montana by Montana Magazine readers. By 2008, eight editions of the book had been printed.
On of my favorite chapters from the book is Chapter 22: Man on Horseback. The chapter is about 7 pages long and profiles Dan McKay and his quest to split up as many Montana counties as he could. I gave you that history of our 56 counties several years ago. Of course, few can put it more lively than Joe did:
“The county seat fights were terrific. Some farmers slew each other with pitchforks, businessmen battled in saloon and street. A few times, on hostile ground, Dan actually risked his life; but he always escaped unmarked.”
Howard wasn’t fond of bankers. For a period of ten years beginning in the 1910s, national banks that were members of the Federal Reserve came into Montana and drove the state banks out of business. When 176 of these national banks were instituted in 1917, Montana got forty-one of them. Spurious lending practices guided them.
“It is true that for a few years almost anyone could set up a bank in Montana and almost anyone could get a loan. As Garet Garrett put it, money went to people the bankers knew nothing about ‘except that they owned land, wore spurs, and smelled of cattle.”’
Not enough attention is paid to Howard’s aversion of the federal banks, and the man that shoved them down Montana’s throat, Woodrow Wilson, though several later chapters in his book are dedicated to this.
Howard details how Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law in late-1913 as a “Christmas gift to the American people.”
Ten years later, over a third of Montana’s banks had closed - “a total of 191 - and their depositors had lost about $30,000,000 in four years.”
We do pay attention to Howard’s ‘zeal’ in going after the Company, even though Anaconda Mining/Amalgamated only appears in a few chapters, and is only mentioned in the book’s index nine times.
In fact, the longest continuous number of pages that Howard devotes to the Company comes to us in Chapter 23: “A Russian Jew Named Levine…”
Here we learn of the brave UM professor that published a 141-page essay in 1919 called The Taxation of Mines in Montana.
Louis Levine was the man’s name. He’d been told to produce the report by none other than UM’s chancellor, the boss in charge. But when that boss found out what Levine was writing, he warned Levine not to publish the essay. Levine did it anyway, and was promptly fired.
To Howard, this made perfect sense - UM was part of the state, and the state was controlled by the Anaconda Mining Company. Why would Anaconda want a report coming out that said total metal mining in Montana was $20 million but the companies were only paying $13,000 in taxes on that production?
Well, you wouldn’t. A furor came out over this, and Levine got his job back two months later. It’d take a few years more, but Anaconda would have to start paying more taxes, too.
Beginning in 1946, Joe started working on a novel. He got quite serious about it, even teaching himself to read French so he could better discern the letters of his main subject, the Metis people in Canada.
Howard got two Guggenheim Fellowship grants to work on the novel, in 1947 and 1948. He also found a publisher for the book, even though it wasn’t done. He wrote 60,000 words before he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t a novelist. The manuscript went into the trash. He started over from scratch, changing the novel’s name from “Falcon’s Song” to “Strange Empire.” Both 1949 and 1950 came and went, and the novel remained a work in progress.
At the same time, Howard was directing an annual writer’s conference each summer in Missoula while producing articles for national magazines. He requested several extensions on the novel from his editors, and they in turn requested substantial rewrites to make the book more interesting.
By 1951, Howard was still laboring on the novel. After finishing that year’s writer’s conference in Missoula, Howard drove himself back to Great Falls. On the way, he had a heart attack and died. He was just 45-years-old.
Obituaries appeared in major publications around the country. The Minneapolis Star wrote a 4-part series, calling him “Mr. Montana.” Bernard DeVoto called him “the spokesman of the West.”
By 1952, Howard’s novel Strange Empire was finally published.
In 1979, Joe Howard’s name was added to the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans.
“He set a lifelong goal of exploring the truth behind events in the state’s history,” PBS said of him. “He did not avoid controversial issues or back down from prominent leaders.”
Howard, Joseph Kinsey. Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome. Yale University Press: New Haven, 1943. p 17, 26, 33, 202, 228-9, 238, 254-7, 259-60, 272-4, 282, 284-5, 292-3, 296, 299-300, 316.
“Joseph Kinsey Howard: A Life Outside the Margin.” Montana PBS. 4 June 2009. https://www.montanapbs.org/programs/JosephKinseyHowardALifeOutsideTheMargins/