Well, I figure there’s some things you might be interested in…things that haven’t really been covered too much – if at all – in our local media.
Plus, we've been following this stuff pretty closely for months now.
- The Missoula Races
- Dems in a Mess
- The 2018 House Race
- The Two Governor's Races
- The 2018 Senate Race
- My Possible (Impossible?) Campaign
- A Closing Note
Thanks for reading.
The Missoula Races
For those that know, this is when they ask 4 random people their thoughts on a certain subject.
That day the question was, “Are you voting, and what’s the most important issue to you?”
The results were telling.
- I haven’t decided yet, but probably. I don’t know if I’ve lived in Missoula long enough to know what the issues of Missoula are. Certainly, locally speaking, things like housing and transportation are important to me.
- I intend to, I haven’t gotten my ballot. I feel stupid because it’s my civic duty, should know that. I’ve read in the Missoulian about John Engen.
- I didn’t know there was an election. I would say affordable housing. They’re putting up all of these apartment buildings, but everything is starting out at like $700 for a one bedroom. I grew up in South Dakota, so $700 would get you at least a townhome back home.
- Oh, the biggest issue for me is the mayor’s race! I voted.
One older gentlemen voted. Just happened to be a guy that appears on KGVO on a near-weekly basis.
The rest of the people didn’t seem that informed, and if they did choose to vote, I doubt they would have done much to inform themselves beforehand.
The follow-up question for these 4 folks was, “Who represents your City Council ward?”
- Don’t know.
- Not a clue.
- Don’t know.
- I have no idea.
Alright…let me try and stay positive here.
No, I don’t think these people are informed or have any intention of becoming informed. The fact that there are no D’s and R’s behind the names makes it especially hard for them. What if I fuck up and vote for – dare I say it – a conservative!?!
Can’t have that, and I think our voter turnout was showing that as much as a week ago.
Elections officials mentioned when ballots went out on October 18 that they expected to get 20-25% of them back. That’d be about 9,000 of the 43,000 sent out.
- By October 23, the first of the ballots began to come back. 10% were returned in the first few days.
- By October 27, 19% of those ballots had been returned.
- By Halloween, 25% of the absentee ballots had been returned. That came out to 10,900 of the 43,600 that’d been sent out.
- By November 2, 30% of the ballots had been returned, and 26% of the voting population had voted. That meant that 25,000 ballots had not been sent back yet.
- The next day saw the number rise to 33% returned.
- The weekend came and went, and then on Monday we saw that 38% had been returned.
Also that day, the City Council appoint Mirtha Beccera to fill Ward 2. I’m sure that’ll be another guaranteed yes-vote for their usual agenda.
And my…what an agenda!
On Monday the Council not only appointed Beccera, they also…
- Spent $692,000 on checks that needed to be paid
- Gave $88,000 to WGM Group for sewer main relocation
- Gave $71,000 to Morrison Maierle of Missoula for water main replacements
- Gave $124,000 to Territorial Landworks of Missoula for utility improvements on 2nd St. West
- Gave $409,000 to HDR Inc. for a water facilities plan
- Gave $114,000 to TischlerBise of the District of Criminals for an impact fee study
- And finally, the Council voted to increase their own revenue appropriations by $70,000.
Just last night – Monday, November 6 – the Missoula City Council spent $1,516,000 of your money.
I’m sure some of those expenditures are justified. I’m sure that some are not.
And nothing will change. We saw that tonight.
Yep, the big day was here at last…Tuesday, November 7!
Shortly before 5 PM, Missoula County elections officials reported that 43.6% of ballots had been returned.
A half hour later, that number had jumped to 44.4%
Yep, in just 30 minutes an additional 358 people had voted. Damn, people were sure waiting until the last minute!
I was beginning to think that I’d have to rewrite this whole post…which I’d written days before.
Could Triepke actually win? Hell, could I actually win?
Really, though…we had a long way to go. It was mostly sitting around until 9 PM when they started to count ballots and get the results out.
Everyone was on pins and needles just waitin’ for those numbers to come in.
I’m sure more were interested in watching NCIS or Grey’s Anatomy or The Flash or any other of the numerous TV shows that hit the airwaves after dinner.
It’s true that a bunch of people were heading down to Engen’s campaign event at the Public House (33 going and 47 interested, as of 5 PM) as well as Triepke’s at the Iron Horse (25 going and 60 interested).
Most Missoulians probably couldn’t care less, however, and those that did would watch the returns come in on the 10 o’clock news.
Few of us would be hitting the ol’ refresh button on the elections site over and over…but if you’re reading this, chances are you were one of ‘em…in whatever city it is you were in.
When it was all said and done, turnout came in at 44%...we think. The first results came out at 8:10 PM, showed 36% of the votes counted, and no updates had come in by 10 PM.
So how would people vote…and what would that mean? The election was already a higher-turnout election than had been expected…but who would that help?
Frustrated homeowners that’d kept up on the news, saw their tax bills, and wanted Engen and his cartel gone?
Or disgruntled workers and students that want more affordable housing, want government to subsidize it, and to hell with the landed gentry that makes up our property-owning class?
Turns out the election helped the established way of doing things in Missoula, with the Democratic Machine keeping hold of the levers of power.
Who that helps is beyond me, though I don’t think it’s either frustrated homeowners or disgruntled workers and impoverished students.
Seems to me just about everyone loses, but most of all our kids in public schools. I hope they enjoy the few years they have left in Missoula. Maybe when they’re 18 they’ll move out of state, or maybe they’ll rack-up $30,000 in debt at UM or MSU before doing so.
Either way, there is no future here for them.
Alright…remember – trying to stay positive here.
When the first results were posted at 8:10 PM, Engen was ahead by about 2,500. That didn’t bode well for Triepke...though just 36% of the 45% of returned ballots had been counted at that point.
By 9 PM, those numbers hadn't changed. By 10 PM, they still hadn't changed. Seems a lot like Engen would win. And why not? He spent $100,000 to keep his job.
Helena had updated their vote counts twice by 10 PM, but Missoula vote counters seemed to have gone home.
Update: Missoula got their second round of vote totals out around 10:15 PM. By 11:15 PM nothing had changed.
Triepke was still trailing Engen, 57% to 41%.
All the other expected Missoula winners – Harp and Anderson, as well as the shoe-ins, Von Lossberg, Hess, and Merritt – were ahead by wide margins.
I was happy to see that Jesse Ramos came out full-steam ahead, leading the pack by over 15%.
Dem-nominated Chris Badgley just wasn’t able to cut it, and Wilkins took up the rest. I wasn’t even a factor in the race…though both Badgley and Wilkins probably won’t see it that way. After all, I was getting 3% of the vote and just 2.4% separated them.
Maybe you’re surprised by the results, but I’m not.
I’m rarely surprised.
I called the presidential race last year, as well as 5 of the 7 statewide races (I thought Romano and Juras would both win over Arntzen and Sandefur, but was wrong).
I called the special election this year and I called every single one of the Missoula municipal races…aside from my own, Ward 4.
I told you that was the only toss-up, and it turns out that Ramos won it.
I congratulate him and hope he does a good job. I'm actually pretty happy that he won. Not only does his win mean my kind of issues will be discussed on the Council, but it means a strong, GOP-leaning contender has been taken out of Missoula legislative races for, possibly, the next 4 years.
He’s up against a lot, however.
Besides the 6 rubber stamp votes to follow Engen’s agenda that were already on the Council, we had a guaranteed two more joining them – Von Lossberg and Merritt…both of whom ran unopposed – and that makes 8 votes.
It was a good bet that Stacie Anderson would take Ward 5; Heather Harp would take Ward 3; and Ward 2 was taken out of the running yesterday when another rubber stamp was appointed to replace the one that’d just quit.
So that makes 11 votes.
The only hope of even a symbolic resistance was Ward 4, and that went to Ramos. I feel he’ll eventually get frustrated and either get another job (like Harlan Wells did before him) or run for the legislature (like Adam Hertz did before him). They were the only consistent ‘no’ votes, and Ramos will be the only consistent ‘no’ vote now.
So there’ll be no changes in Missoula over the next 2 years, and probably for the duration of Engen’s 4th term.
Yes, Missoula will continue to go downhill until early-2022, and probably much later. Now…maybe you benefit from the development, the high taxes, the low wages, and the outflux of young people seeking a better future elsewhere…or maybe just a place they don’t have to live hand to mouth.
If you are one of those people, then today was a good day. If you view things like I do, then you’re upset and frustrated and throwing your hands up in the air if you’re not going outside to curse at the skies.
What else can you do?
We’re in the Berkeley of the North, the liberal bastion of Missoula…Montana’s bluest island in a large sea of red.
Wasn’t always like this. Missoula used to be a much more Republican town (back in the 70s). Things change, though. Hell, the Bitterroot was one of Montana’s Democratic strongholds…back in the 1910s.
Anyways, I don’t want to get too negative or hopeless.
I’ve already filed my closing campaign report, emptied-out my campaign bank account, picked up all my yard signs, and sent a thank-you card off to the COPP staff in Helena.
This cycle is over.
I’m relieved. It’s a lot of work, stress, and frustrations when you run for office…even if you end up winning.
But most of us lost tonight. There were 16 candidates running, just 8 won, and 8 lost. In three races, candidates ran unopposed.
We’ll see who’s able to dust themselves off and try again in a few months or a few years or whenever.
Many never try again.
Maybe I should be one of them. This was my 2nd-to-worst race.
- In 2014 I got 118 votes, or 9%
- In 2016 I got 322 votes, or 18%
- In 2017 I got 120 votes, or 3%
Yeah, maybe I should quit…but wouldn’t you know it? I’m already thinking about what my 4th run for office will be. I’m positive I’ll get the same level of disinterest and resistance.
When you put yourself out there, you’re going to get a lot of resistance. The trick is overcoming that.
The fighter accepts criticism, but never takes it personally.
He knows resistance will use rejection to break him, and that’s why he accepts adversity.
When the fighter is face down in the arena, eating sand, and everyone’s laughing at him, he knows that it’s still better to be in the arena than to be on the sideline, watching and never having a chance to realize the sweet taste of victory…or the bitterness of defeat.
Dems in a Mess
The DNC was $2 million in debt when Donna Brazile took over after the previous, corrupt Hillarykrat was ousted. Currently the media is doing quite the two-step, trying to bash Brazile while at the same time trying to tone it down...as she is one of the highest-ranking black women the Democratic Party's seen in the past 30 years.
The DNC was burning through about $4 million a month. When Obama left office, the DNC was $24 million in debt.
How does this happen...where’d the money go…who’d it benefit?
What I do know is that the Democratic Party has been in shambles for years, and we see that clearly at the statewide level.
Looking at the MT Democratic Party's latest FEC report tells us that the Party had $281,000 cash on hand at the beginning of September. They brought in $72,000, spent $82,000 and had $266,000 in cash as October began.
I'm personally alarmed by spending more than they're brining in. We saw this week the terrible financial situation of the DNC. What...$24 million? How'd that happen?
The MT Democratic Party gave the DNC nearly $3,000 last month. Many of you will remember the shady dealings between Hillary's DNC and the MT Democratic Party, which were revealed to us in that Margot Kidder letter over a year ago. Donna Brazile's book does a good job highlighting this corruption. And it is corruption, make no bones about it.
I wrote all this on Sunday, and I saw that George Ochenski was thinking the exact same way that day. His Monday column presents the same information, the same conclusions:
“That the Montana Democratic Party was involved in this perversion of our political system is nothing less than disgusting. That the same “players” involved then remain in office and in charge of the party now is outrageous. It’s far past time to get rid of the Democrat’s “rotten fish” — both in Montana and at the highest national levels.”
Ochenski alludes to the MT Democratic Party being broke when they decided to join in on Hillary’s corruption scheme. As you saw with those September totals above, that’s no longer the case. Half the MT Dem’s FEC report's spending section is for employee pay and the meals they eat out.
The MT Democratic Party currently employs 12 people, and this cost them nearly $38,000 last month. Here's how that breaks down:
- Nancy Keenan $5,922.00
- Trent Bolger $4,452.00
- Chris Meagher $4,732.00
- Allison Dale-Riddle $3,540.00
- Olivia Slack $3,452.00
- Roy Lowenstein $3,214.00
- Justin Ailport $3,078.00
- Nick Lockridge $2,986.00
- James Young $2,242.00
- Thomas Culver $1,936.00
- Amanda Frickle $1,296.00
- Faith Scow $874.00
$38,000 for those people, and the Party isn't winning, hasn't been winning in a long time. We pay them like they are. Perhaps it’s time to peg salaries to performance.
And let me be clear on this ‘not winning’ point. Salon put it well last week:
“…we have a party that has lost close to 1,000 state legislature seats over the past decade and suffered historic wipeouts in the last two midterm elections, leaving it in a weaker position on Capitol Hill than at any time since the Great Depression. That party became so strapped for cash, not to mention so spiritually enervated, that it rented itself out to one of its presidential candidates while pretending to remain neutral with respect to that candidate’s campaign. Spoiler alert: Same party!”
Nope, they’re not winning but those MT Dem staffers are sure benefiting. Many are from out-of-state and just building a bit of experience before they move off to the next place.
The head of the Party’s operations, Nancy Keenan, isn't even in Helena anymore, but living in Bonner. That's the address she has on the FEC report. My she's done well for herself, hasn't she? How's your family doing?
That's kind of the thing you realize. It's not about your family. It's about the Democratic elites in this state and what they want. I personally believe the best thing for the state is to have the MT Democratic Party continue just as it is now.
If these people had anymore power, I can't imagine your life would get any better. Let them continue to muddle along, feeling like they're winning. Well, the elites are winning. You aren't. And with this crop of 'leaders,' you never will.
Keenan will never be gone until Tester is, as he wants her there. And she'll just keep losing seats in the legislature. But when you're paid nearly $6,000 a month...why care?
The 2018 House Race
Yeah, I’m not excited either.
What’s there to be excited about?
On the House side we have a half a dozen Dems running to take Gianforte’s seat…but none of them are exciting.
I can’t tell the difference between any of them, in fact. About all I have found out is that Grant Kier is a Hillarykrat and that John Heenan doesn’t like that.
So that makes me like Heenan a lot more, though I still favor Tom Woods at this point. I just feel he’s put his time in in the trenches.
I don’t see any of these people beating Gianforte, however. I’m even hearing that Gianforte wants to get that second term, using it as a launchpad to take over for Bullock when he’s termed-out in 2020.
Gianforte certainly has the money to do that, and more than enough to beat out Fox…if he so chooses.
Dems have no chance to take that House seat if Gianforte wants to keep it. They think they do, and that’s what makes it especially sad.
The Two Governor’s Races
And they won on both fronts.
- In New Jersey, the Democrat won by 55% to 42%. You’ll remember that Trump lost this state in November by 14%, though he overwhelmingly won the GOP primary before that.
- In Virginia, the Democrat won by 54% to 45%. You’ll remember that Trump lost this state in November by 5%, and lost it to Rubio in the GOP primary before that.
So really…what did Democrats win here? Governorships in two states they expect to carry again in 2020? And what about ’18?
- We know New Jersey’s Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, is done. He’s got low approval ratings and he’s currently under indictment for federal corruption charges.
- On the other side, we know that Virginia’s Democratic Senator, Tim Kaine, leads in that potential race by about 15% at this point.
I’m sure the corporate, drive-by media will have fun with these two gubernatorial races, however, and how they portend so much doom for Republicans next year.
The 2018 Senate Race
My money’s on California storage-unit-mogul, Troy Downing. Zinke wants him to win, and that’s a good indication that he probably will.
Dems were really scared about Russell Fagg…until he made the disastrous decision to hold his campaign kickoff in Bozeman as opposed to hometown Billings. Just 8 people showed up, effectively killing that campaign for the rest of the year and probably much of the first quarter of next year.
Many feel Matt Rosendale has a shot, and one of ‘em is ousted White House official Steve Bannon. I’d personally rather not have Maryland Matt representing me in the District of Criminals, but it’s not up to me – it’s up to the money.
We’ll see how the money game plays out. I’m sure record amounts will be raised and spent, none of it benefiting you. In fact, I bet it’ll give you a hellacious headache.
And then there’s Tester, the man that’s had the seat for 2 terms already and wants his 3rd. Will he get it?
I’m not convinced.
First of all, he’s desperate.
I mean, it's amazing how weak Senator Tester is!
That's why he needs to raise so much money, $8 million already. It’s desperation. He knows he's got a good shot at losing. That's why he needs that $8 million.
And what will it be spent on?
TV ads to assault you. Junk mail for your inbox. Two things Montanans love, eh?
I was impressed by Sarah Dean’s initial letter to the editor a month ago, but then the campaign-killing story about her many names, her questionable marriage, and all the rest of it came out. Boy, what a doozy.
I’m not sure if she’s paid her $1,700 filing fee to take on Tester.
I certainly haven’t paid mine. That’s why I was disappointed to see the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Missoula Independent say that I am running.
Well, they said I filed. And what constitutes filing? Is it just filling out the 2-page FEC document and mailing it in (which I did), or is it paying that monstrous sum of money to make it official?
I think it’s the latter, and since I’m like 70% of American households – living paycheck to paycheck and unable to come up with $500 in case of an emergency – the prospects of me paying the filing fee are very low.
Very low until March.
At that point I’ll have gotten my federal tax return, and I might have the money.
But to waste it running against Tester, a Wall Street Democrat with deep corporate pockets that simply won’t be primaried no matter how you slice it?
And it would be a waste…wouldn’t it?
I mean, if you can’t win…why bother? What are you hoping to accomplish?
Changing the dialogue is about it.
My Possible (Impossible?) Campaign
- First, we need to end our never-ending wars.
- Second, we need to fix this country.
- Third, we need to take care of our old and our sick.
Those three issues are heavily intertwined.
It costs money to take care of our old and our sick…$845 billion for the old $603 billion for the sick.
Those are 2014 numbers and by 2024 they’ll be $1.5 trillion and $1 trillion, respectively.
So where do we get the money to continue as we are now, not to mention increasing the Cost of Living Adjustment, which is critical for our seniors here in Montana?
Simple – we end our never-ending wars. We’ve already spent $4.8 trillion fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Now we see our military expanding rapidly in Africa. We currently have 6,000 troops on that continent.
Pray tell, how is this benefiting you?
We build roads and schools and bases in Iraq and Afghanistan while we allow them to fall apart here in America.
When we do decide to fix our roads or schools, we shackle local property taxpayers with the bill. Here in Missoula we spent over $150 million on school bonds a few years ago.
- Where’s our federal government?
- Why aren’t they helping?
- Why don’t they care?
Changing the dialogue. I’m the kind of person that’d ‘waste’ $1,700 to do that. Mostly I’d be paying to appear in the debate…if there even is one. I suspect Tester would do everything in his power to ensure there is no primary debate.
And he’s smart to do that. If I was allowed to get on the stage and tell Montanans my ideas, I know a large percentage of Democrats and Republicans and Independents would like what I’m telling ‘em.
And even if I lost – which is almost assured – they’d remember me and what I said and that I actually gave a damn about helping them, not the Washington elites.
For Wall Street Democrats – who control the MT Democratic Party – this is not good.
We often say how screwed up this country is and how nothing ever gets better and that nothing will change. We know the system is rigged, and big money is propping it up.
It makes us sick, but we can change it.
Will I be the one to do that?
Someone has to. Alas, I don’t see a lot of regular, working people stepping up to the plate. I’d like to, and as the next few months go on, we’ll see how it goes.
A Closing Note
Since I announced I was hanging it up, just 2 people have told me I should keep writing.
They say I have good ideas and that I’m reaching more people than I think. Perhaps that’s true.
I just get tired of all the negativity that’s so inherent in politics. It makes me a negative person, and that doesn’t help my family.
I want to write everyday, every morning when I get up. I’ve been stopping myself lately, however, and it’s been hard.
There sure is a lot to write about, too! I'm happy that a black man, Wilmot Collins, won the mayoral race in my hometown. I remember him speaking to my Helena High School social studies class in 1997.
I'm happy that anti-pot crusader, Jeff Essman, lost the mayoral race in Billings. I don't know enough about the Great Falls or Bozeman races to comment.
We'll see what the future holds for those large cities, as well as what the upcoming special session holds for the state.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but you know I’ll always be tracking the news and asking questions.
Whether I’ll do so sporadically on this site or not remains to be seen.