Personally, I think Bullock should have changed staff – at least election staff – long ago.
That’ll of course be one of the arguments if he loses tomorrow night.
Anyways, we’re not focused on Bullock today but on Tester.
Supposedly the word in D.C. is that former Hilltop Public Solutions operative Aaron Murphy will become Senator Tester’s Chief of Staff starting in January.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Murphy first started working for Tester way back in 2006 when Tester was making his first run at the U.S. Senate.
Since then he’s been a “top advisor” to Tester, served as his “longtime” communications director, and was also the chief spokesman and speechwriter.
Before getting into politics, Murphy followed the typical Democratic staff routine – he was a reporter.
Well, producer would be a more apt description. That’s the job he had at KTVQ-TV in Billings and KGW-TV in Portland.
Murphy also bills himself as a “crisis manager,” although in that capacity he’s failed miserably.
Just look at the work he did on John Walsh’s disastrous 2014 U.S. Senate campaign.
The Wyoming-native ‘managed’ Walsh’s campaign and also had a role in John Lewis’s defeat for the U.S. House that year, serving as a spokesman.
In 2014 Hilltop gave nearly $14,000 to John Lewis and $4,000 to the Montana Democratic Party. It didn’t help.
So what does this all mean?
For many, having Murphy on board as chief of staff is a clear sign that Tester will be running for his third term in 2018.
A good question, however, is why Tester – or any Democrat for that matter – would hire the guy who helped Dems lose both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate races in 2014.
Perhaps that’s the same kind of campaign they want to run in 2018, or maybe they think Tester doesn’t have to worry about losing like Walsh or Lewis did.
Please remember that the only reason Tester won in 2012 is because Hilltop and other dark money groups poured tons of money into the campaign.
Their main strategy was to get people to vote for the Libertarian, thus taking away votes from the Republican.
Tester couldn’t have won on his own, it’s that simple.
The only way I see him winning in 2018 is by raising a shit-ton of dark money and assaulting us with as much propaganda as the TV stations and Post Office will allow.
In that regard, hiring one of Hilltop’s guys is a good idea – no one does dark money like they do.
And let’s not forget illegal coordination, another of their specialties.
Hilltop ran into problems in March 2013 when a 277-page complaint alleged they illegally coordinated with Bullock’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign.
It’s just a slimy outfit, and here are the people that keep it that way.
Now, let’s talk about Brian Schweitzer.
The non-hushed word on the street is that Schweitzer will be going for governor in 2020, so it’ll be 4 years of waiting for him, although some might try to draft him for the House in '18.
Tester wants his third term in the U.S. Senate, but I’m hearing talk that Schweitzer may want his first term in that 'august' body.
Personally, I think Tester has way more power than Schweitzer at this point. There’s no way Tester is going to be edged-out by a primary opponent in ‘18, even Schweitzer…perhaps especially Schweitzer.
I wonder what the blood is between those two…good…bad…who knows?
But…but…Brian in that cesspit we call Washington?
Golly, I seem to remember Schweitzer not going for the Senate in 2014 because he said he wanted to stay in Montana.
Was that true or just some homespun rubbish?
I mean, why didn't Schweitzer go for the Senate in 2014 when he probably should have? That was his chance, but he didn’t want to…right?
Perhaps, but it’s also likely that he got pushed out by the Democrats after some dirt came up.
What we’re getting at are some shady financial dealings that may have started as far back as 2010.
For many, this is old news, but let’s dredge it up nonetheless.
This is what Politico said about it in 2013:
“Schweitzer roiled the Senate landscape when he told the Associated Press Saturday that he wants to stay in Montana rather than move to Washington, D.C. But his potential candidacy was also raising red flags within the party: After weeks of courting the 57-year-old Schweitzer, Democratic leaders reversed course in recent days.
Scrutinizing Schweitzer’s past, they concluded there was too much ammunition for Republicans to use against him in the campaign to replace the retiring veteran Democrat Max Baucus, according to a source familiar with the thinking of those leaders.
Schweitzer had been hit with a series of damaging stories about his ties to “secret money” and a nonprofit group run by former aides. But sources said the laundry list of opposition research went much deeper — and could have crippled a Schweitzer campaign for Senate. Moreover, there was fear that Schweitzer’s penchant for off-the-cuff remarks would hurt his ability to respond effectively to the barrage of GOP attacks.”
I wonder what that dirt was that Democrats found on him. To me it sounds financial, as I mentioned.
I’m sure it doesn’t even come close to the financial improprieties that Hillary was involved in with the Clinton Foundation, however.
No one does pay-to-play like Hillary.
Anyways, 11 days before the Politico story John Adams had more details on the blog he was doing at the time.
Adams says that Schweitzer set up a 501 (C)(4) nonprofit called the Council for Sustainable America “that gave $306,799 to a Washington, D.C.-based political non-profit called the American Sustainability Project.”
Attorney General Tim Fox argued that these two nonprofits were in “violation of IRS rules.”
An interesting side note is that the treasurer for Schweitzer’s nonprofit was former Commissioner of Political Practices Dave Gallik. Media Trackers had a lot more on this angle in April 2013.
Adams’ ultimate conclusion is that:
“In a nutshell, it appears Schweitzer, who purported to be the most transparent governor in Montana history, in 2010 set up a dark money group run by the man he appointed to be the top political campaign watchdog for what appears to be the sole purpose of holding money for a future political campaign.”
Interesting stuff…but does it break any laws, and if it did, why were no charges filed?
I don’t know, nor do I know what’s going on with these nonprofits now.
And honestly, I have to say that I like Brian Schweitzer.
I like his style, his tone, his ideas, and I just like him.
I think he can get on people’s nerves a bit, but so can a lot of people. Hell, I get on a lot of people’s nerves!
When he runs for office again I’ll be one of the first to get a campaign sign and bumper sticker for my car.
Some will remember my post saying Brian should run for President in 2016.
I’d be voting Democrat tomorrow if that was the case, but with Hillary, no thank you.
Anyways, one of Aaron Murphy’s first tasks will be to dissuade any Montana Democrats from supporting Schweitzer in a primary against Tester.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of horse trading goes on there.
Could Schweitzer get some of this old 2010 dark money news swept under the rug if he agrees to play ball and not run?
That’d set him up nicely for a ’18 House run or a ’20 gubernatorial run, with the latter being most likely.
That said, with the Montana Democratic bench nearly non-existent, Schweitzer is the best chance Dems have to take the House seat back. It’ll be 22 years at that point.
Nor do I see a Democrat winning the governor’s office in 2020 if Bullock wins this year.
I mean, 16 years of Democrats in that position? I feel Montana voters will be ready for a change.
It could be Gianforte’s year then, or maybe Tim Fox’s. Could also be a complete unknown that tears out of nowhere and tells us what we want to hear.
Montana politics changes quickly, after all.
It’s Aaron Murphy’s job to react to those changes and come up with solutions that carry his employer forward.
We’ll see how he does with Tester in ’18.
I’ll tell you right now that I won’t be voting for Tester. I hope we get a real primary challenger that year too, not some puppet like Dems usually throw up.
Anyways, we’ll begin talking a lot more about this in January when the 2018 campaign season starts up.
Until then, enjoy the last day of 2016’s cycle.