This is important because most Montanans have no idea who these 6 candidates are.
If they decide they want to know, one of the first places they’ll turn to is Google.
So…if you’re a candidate…what do you want that potential voter to see?
I’m willing to bet it’s your message, and how you frame it…not how the other guy is framing it.
That’s why I personally feel it’s so critical to have the candidate website come up first…or at least their Facebook page.
What you don’t want are negative articles about you.
For instance, take my name…Greg Strandberg.
I don’t need to type “Montana” after it to get lots of stuff about me here in the state. The first result is my Facebook page, then my website, then Twitter, then my Missoulian profile, then a Missoulian Q&A with me, and after that my MT Cowgirl profile and then my Amazon books.
About a year ago ID/MT Post’s article entitled “Republican Anti-Semite Files as a Democrat in HD 99” was coming up on the first page of the SERP. Even the article “Self-Promoter and Wannabe Politician…” was coming up close to the first page.
Now those two articles are on Page 2 of the SERP, meaning no one is seeing them.
So how’d I get the positive to move up while getting the negative to move down?
Let’s begin with Lynda Moss.
Her website is disappointing.
It consists of a single page, with some images at the top, then a link to donate via Act Blue, a November 18th event, and a Last Best News article on her seeking the nomination.
Outdated and uninformative.
Not a lot to get excited about with Lynda Moss.
Mostly, Moss seems to be putting most of her efforts forth on her Facebook page. Here we see frequent posts on political issues that she doesn’t agree with.
There are a few posts from December and a few from November. Considering she’s not keeping her website up-to-date (or giving us her stance on the issues), I’d encourage Moss to ramp-up her social media efforts.
Currently, Moss is not doing a good job of informing voters of who she is and what she stands for.
Personally, I don’t think we’ll see an improvement here. I don’t think she stands a chance of getting more than 15% of the vote come June.
Jared Pettinato’s website is pretty good. I like the image of him standing in that field.
Jared is a 4th-generation Montanan, tracing his Montana roots back to 1916. He has a good biography page, and he has a good issues page.
For the latter, the main issues that Jared talks about are wind and trees. To get more issues, we’re directed to his blog, Beyond Party. The most recent article there dates from October 23.
Nearly 2 months ago, now. Yep, Jared needs to get back in gear. His events page lists the most recent event as November 17. A month ago.
There is no Facebook page for Jared. He does use Twitter, but his posts seem to be reaching few, and he’s not using the #mtpol hashtag, either.
Now I’m going to say something offensive – Jared looks gay.
Hey, maybe he is – I have no problem with this. But what about other Montanans…like those living in rural areas along the Hi-Line and in Eastern Montana?
It just wouldn’t fly. I know that offends a lot of people, but on this website we look at the world how it is, not how we want it to be.
Let’s get to Kathleen Williams.
Her website is pretty good., with a nice image, an email sign-up, and a link to donate and/or volunteer. She also has a Twitter feed embedded on the homepage so you can see what she tweets.
So far, Williams has the best issues page. She lists:
- Affordable, accessible, quality healthcare
- Opportunity – good jobs and quality education
- Supporting agriculture
- Protecting our public lands
- Preserving our natural world
- Tax reform
Each of those issues has about 2 paragraphs explaining Williams’ position. And they’re up-to-date. For instance, on tax reform she mentions the $1.5 trillion addition to the national debt that the current GOP tax plan foists upon our grandkids.
Williams also does a good job giving us facts. Take her stance on public lands. She tells us that “the outdoor industry in Montana generates $7.1 billion annually, creates 71,000 jobs, and provides $286 [million] in state and local taxes.”
I think this is great…and terrible.
It’s great because she understands the situation. It’s terrible because she provides no ideas on how regular Montanans can benefit from it.
For instance, if the outdoor industry creates so many jobs and is so important for the state…why aren’t those workers paid more? Why don’t they get benefits? Why are many living in poverty?
While I know coming right out and saying we need a widespread outdoor industry unionization effort might rub many the wrong way, the bottom line is you have to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
There ain’t no Dem that’s going to speak against the outdoor industry, it’s just that none will speak for it, either. They’ll identify it, try to get as much credit for it as possible, and hope that’s enough to win them votes.
Let’s turn our attention to John Heenan.
His website is one that looks the same as the rest of ‘em – a big image up front, a donate/volunteer button, and an email signup.
We’ll know in early-February who made these sites and how much the candidates paid for them…and whether that money stayed in Montana or went out-of-state.
You’ll remember that both the Montana Democrats and the Montana Republicans both have out-of-state companies designing their websites. The Dems like North Carolina. For the GOP, they actually go out-of-country…all the way to Germany!
Anyways, Heenan has an issues page and these are what he lists:
- Bring good paying jobs to Montana
- Protecting healthcare for Montanans
- Montana education for the future
- Citizens United
- Farming and ranching
- Women’s health
- Our public lands
- Native American rights
- Standing up to big banks and Wall Street
- Veterans deserve real respect
- Social Security
- Second Amendment rights
Big talk, but little substance. Take farming and ranching. Heenan tells us that Montana has 28,000 farms and ranches and that he’ll “stand up to those in Washington DC who want to force trade deals that would destroy the livelihoods” of those folks.
Well…how’s he going to do this, exactly? What is his stance on the Farm Bill, or subsidies, or commodity prices? Why exactly should anyone outside of the safe-in-the-city blue districts get excited about this?
When it comes to good paying jobs, Heenan says we need a $15 minimum wage…but again, he provides us no insight on how he’d make that happen.
I guess he just figures Dems will take the House in ’18 and then he can just follow along with the Dems that are now in charge. If there’s another approach he’s following, I’m not seeing it.
On a final note, Heenan fired his campaign communications person a few weeks back, Brie Ripley. Personally, I think this might have had something to do with her tweeting out an image comparing Tester-challengers, Sarah and James Dean, to Blade Runner replicants.
But what do I know?
Next up is Grant Kier. Like many of the others, he has a bright, smiling image of himself up front…this time with some family, as well.
Then there’s the donate/volunteer links, a link to Facebook, an email signup, and a brief biography.
Kier’s website was designed by Apollo Artistry, a firm that designed Rob Quist’s website for $6,500.
This makes me wonder…how wrapped-around-the-Dem-finger is Kier? We’ve seen James Conner over at Flathead Memo call him a Hillarykrat, and if he does indeed follow that line of the Party’s reasoning, he’ll turn away many Dems…while also cementing the support of many more.
And then there’s the people supporting him. For instance, Missoula mayor John Engen endorsed him. To me, this is a good indication that Kier is the exact opposite of a candidate I’d want to support.
Many safe-in-the-city-Dems eat this shit up, however. That’s how these kinds of people win the primary; that’s how these kinds of people lose in the general by 10% or more.
Moving on…Kier lists his issues page as “priorities,” and they look like this:
- Public lands
- Public education
- Equal pay for equal work
- Campaign finance reform
- Investments for infrastructure
- Funding for scientific research
Again, we get a lot of big ideas…but little in the way on how they’ll become realities.
Kier wants to get money out of politics…but he gives us no ideas on how he’ll do this…especially when all members of Congress are taking bribes…er, campaign donation. Kier himself is taking those ‘bribes,’ and we’ll see exactly who they’re from and how much they are in early-February.
He wants women to get paid more than the 70% of a man’s salary they’re getting now…but provides no ideas on how to make this happen. He wants more funding for science and more funding for infrastructure, but gives us no ideas on how he’d do the grunt work of getting the votes to make this happen.
Like Heenan – and probably all the rest of these guys and gals – Kier is hoping against hope that Dems can take the House in ’18, allowing them to at least get their way in one chamber…even if they can’t in the other, or on the president’s desk.
This isn’t leadership. It’s following.
Finally, we have Tom Woods and his website…which looks about the same as all the others (aside from Moss’s).
Woods also lists his issues as “priorities” and they’re right there on the homepage of his 1-page website.
These consist of:
- Protecting students from debt
- Fix healthcare now
- Investing in Indian Country
- Ending corporate influence in government
Not a lot of issues, but Tom actually gives us an idea of how he’ll accomplish his priorities. Take student debt. Tom “will sponsor legislation to make all public colleges tuition-free and forgive outstanding student debt.”
When it comes to healthcare, Tom “will co-sponsor Mediare-for-All, which will eliminate premiums and deductibles while ensuring Montanans can go to the doctor of their choice.”
I like this talk. I think some GOP families might like this talk too. I know a lot of Independents will.
Still, Tom does fall into the ‘generalization’ trap that all the other candidates do. Take corporate influence in government. “Tom will work to end Citizens United and reform America’s broken public campaign financing system.”
Look…I dunno how, either…but I could at least put some idea out there.
Maybe, I’ll work with Walter Jones (R-NC) to co-sponsor a bill to get rid of Citizen United…like Jones did in 2016.
Again, I dunno…but you’ve got to give us something. You’ve got to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowded pack of Dem office-seekers.
Montana Democrats could beat Gianforte, mainly because the guy has such a terrible rap sheet with law enforcement.
But they won’t.
The current 6 trying to take Gianforte’s job are all losers. Five of them will lose in June and one of them will lose in November.
There’s just nothing to get excited about. There’s nothing that’s going to make those people downtown at the bars on the weekend start talking about any of these people.
Regular Montanans just don’t care. There’s no sign that these campaigns are going to make them care.
I know the candidates and their campaign staff are reading these articles.
If you’re smart, you’ll have realized the two unanswered questions I left you.
Both deal with increasing the positive online talk about you while minimizing the negative talk.
Again…how do you do that?
It’s a good question, and if the candidates are paying campaign staff, then those staff should have the answers to these questions.
We’ll know what those staff members are being paid when the first FEC campaign finance reports are filed on January 31.
At that point things will get interesting; money always makes it so.
Until then…happy campaigning (or should I say ‘fundraising’?)