It's a question all candidates must ask, and for many, it comes down to their speaking ability.
If you can't light "the trail on fire with soaring rhetoric" then chances are good you won't create the turnout necessary to win.
We see this in our PSC races.
Public Service Commission #4 is one race I don’t really care about.
I voted for Mark Sweeney in the primary and the reason was simple – he might have beaten Bob Lake, the current commissioner.
I didn’t see Gutsche winning that seat in November so I didn’t vote for her.
Why didn’t I see her winning?
Because she lost PSC 4 to Lake in 2012.
Gutsche won the PSC 4 seat in 2008, 52% to Republican Doug Mood’s 48%.
Mood was an incumbent but Gutsche knocked him out…likely with the help of increased voter turnout due to excitement over Obama.
Of course, it could have been her policy positions as well.
Writing in 2008, 4&20 said that Gail Gutsche would “use her time in the PSC to seek to expand development of renewable and clean energy sources while recovering low cost options and ensure that we have low energy prices while doing it.”
That excitement somehow slipped away in 2012 and 74-year-old Bob Lake came in and beat her, 51% to 49%.
Bob Lake is a former feed plant operator from Ronan. He graduated high school in 1956 and then got into the Army for 2 years.
That was 3 years after the Korean War ended.
Just a quick question…why is this fossil representing me?
Well, that’s simple – because Gutsche couldn’t beat him in 2012.
Again, this is why I voted for Mark Sweeney – Gutsche couldn’t beat him 4 years ago and I don’t expect she’ll do it this year.
Before getting into PSC politics, Gutsche was a member of the Montana House of Representatives, first getting elected in 1998 and serving until 2005. She did not run again in 2006, nor did she try and make the switch to the Montana Senate.
Why did Gutsche sit out for 4 years?
In 2012 Gutsche raised $38,000 for her race. Bob Lake raised $26,000 that year.
Just because you can take money from the rich and well-off doesn’t mean you’ll win.
We’ll see that quite clearly in 2016 in many races.
Following her 2012 loss to Lake, Gutsche followed the typical Democratic holding pattern – she joined NARAL Pro-Choice.
Now, she only worked for that heavily-partisan and do-whatever-it-takes-to-accomplish-our-agenda organization for 7 months.
I applaud her for that.
Still…how much did Nancy Keenan get her hooks in Gutsche during that time?
I view Keenan as one of the gravest threats to the Montana Democratic Party, but considering the Montana Democratic Party has become even more corrupt than the Montana Republican Party, perhaps it doesn’t matter.
For more on Montana Democratic corruption, check here and here.
Then, starting in late-2013, Gutsche became the executive director of the Montana Organizing Project, a post she held for 3 years.
I have no idea what that Missoula/Billings organization does or where it gets its money, though you can see they keep up on their Facebook page.
I do see that Jacquie Helt was its treasurer, however.
Following the 2016 PSC 4 primary, Gutsche had $2,236 in the bank.
Bob Lake had $2,912.
Donors to Gutsche include Ed Childers, Janet Ellis, Cliff Larsen, Monica Lindeen, Richard Opper, Sue Talbot, Ken Toole, Carol Williams and Cynthia Wolken.
Donors to Lake include Linda Frey, Dave Galt, and Carmen Mowbray.
So far Gutsche’s strategy seems to be:
- Using her Facebook page
- Doing $420 in radio ads with Missoula’s KYSS FM
- Doing $122 in radio ads with Missoula’s Z100
- Doing $468 in radio ads with Missoula Broadcasting Company
- Doing $391 in radio ads with Missoula’s Mountain Broadcasting
- Sending/handing out 3,258 pieces of mail that cost $950
I live in Missoula but I haven’t heard a single radio ad nor have I received a mailer.
I did get about 10 mailers on my ‘legalize marijuana’ sign while at the Bernie Rally in May…though people thought my sign was the garbage pile so that accounts for that.
In my opinion Gutsche needs to get onto some different radio stations for advertising, like KGVO, which is the only political station in Missoula.
She also needs to contact John King and get an interview on that station, preferably with Bob Lake.
But maybe she figures her primary showing was good enough.
After all, 25,437 Democrats voted in the PSC 4 race while only 23,512 Republicans did…a difference of 1,925 voters.
Of course, many of us went to the polls in June because Bernie needed our vote. He got our vote and he won.
Now that Bernie is gone, replaced by Hillary, a lot of that enthusiasm will go away.
This is especially true for Millennials like me. Hillary's lost 17% of our vote in the past 20 days.
Hillary had to be the nominee, no matter how many down-ticket candidates like Gutsche may lose because of it.
That’s not good for Gutsch, and currently I don’t think she has any kind of plan to compensate for those lost voters.
In other words, she doesn’t know what to do.
And that, my friends, is why I see Bob Lake retaining his seat.
Perhaps it's time to get more emotional, Gail.