I’ve been lucky enough to appear on KGVO’s morning radio show three to four times now.
It’s a smart choice for political types – you reach around 20,000 people.
Perhaps that’s why big time Democratic behind-the-scenes-man, Eric Stern, decided to appear on the show this morning for 90 minutes.
As you probably know, Stern managed Schweitzer’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign, worked in his office for many years, and then switched over to work in Linda McCullough’s Secretary of State Office before switching back to Bullock’s Governor’s Office.
14 years in Montana politics.
He left that job earlier this spring and isn’t doing much.
Hence his appearance in Missoula today. Let’s discuss what he had to say.
On the 2018 and 2020 Races
Stern mentioned that there’s “no heir apparent to Governor Bullock.”
When it comes to the 2020 gubernatorial race, Stern sees both Corey Stapleton and Tim Fox as likely GOP runners. If Rosendale loses this year, that’d be another strong name in the mix.
Stern sees 2020 as a strong Democratic year. Here in Montana he thinks it’s likely that John Heenan will run for governor, and perhaps Kathleen Williams as well…if she loses this year. He also feels Mike Cooney will take a shot at it.
He thinks that Dems will do well in many of the state legislature races this year, with the main motivator for Democratic voters being their dislike for Trump.
He doesn’t think that Republicans are that thrilled about voting to further Trump’s agenda by putting more GOPers into office. Mostly, many Republicans aren’t that excited and that might keep some of them home.
Hell, there was just a story in the papers last week about a bunch of Republicans voicing their support for Tester!
He mentioned the 35% of the vote that Hillary got here in 2016, but admits it’s a red state.
It’s important to remember that when Stern was working in the SoS Office, there were 5 Democrats in statewide offices, and we had two Democratic senators.
Now we have just 1 Democrat in a statewide office, and just one Democratic senator.
Things have changed a lot over the past five years.
On Strong Dem Issues and Campaign Finance
Stern feels the main focus for Montana is jobs and the economy.
When it comes to strong points for Dems to run on both this year and in 2020, Stern suggests that dark money and public lands are the key issues, as well as our terrible healthcare system.
Stern feels that public lands is one of the best issues for Dems to run on, and while he thinks dark money is also an issue, he admits it’s a difficult issue as it’s working against the billionaires that spend so much.
He wants to get rid of Citizens United, saying it was “absolute bunk.”
The Republicans have long sought such a ruling, as they rely on corporations more than Dems, who often rely on things like unions for their money.
Both are collections of like-minded interests that choose to spend their money as they want. Stern says that unions, however, are groups of workers, while corporations are nothing more than bank statements on paper.
But those sources for funds have changed a lot since the 2011 ruling that made Citizens United the law of the land, and right now we know Jon Tester is taking more lobbying money than anyone.
Stern didn’t want to discuss that, and steered the conversation away from Tester.
Stern admitted that Tester has one of the most competitive races in the country, so he has to raise the big money.
In that regard, the ends justify the means. Taking money hand-over-fist from questionable sources is perfectly fine if that means you win. But is that really winning, and if so, how?
These philosophical issues were pushed to the wayside as the callers began to call in, mostly to rehash 2016.
Later, Stern got back into it, citing the example of a Democratic state legislator running, and possibly raising $30,000 to $40,000.
At that point, he says, Big Pharma and Big Tobacco and Big Oil will come in and spend five to six times what that candidate raised, all so they can get a Republican in there.
So while Democrats like Tester benefit from our campaign finance laws, those that’ll eventually build the Democratic bench in states across the nation do not.
It really is a catch-22 for Dems: get rid of corporate money and risk losing the big time, national races…or keep it and effectively cut your Party off at the knees when it comes to building future statewide and national candidates.
On Brian Schweitzer
I went onto KGVO’s Facebook page and asked about what Brian Schweitzer is doing these days.
I’d personally like to see him run for governor again, but I also heard a rumor that he might take a shot at Daines in 2020.
“He’s sort of out of politics,” Stern said. He went on to say that Schweitzer fishes and drinks whiskey and has a real estate office and spends half the year in Arizona.
“I don’t think you’ll hear from him anytime soon, but who knows,” Stern concluded.
On Democratic Socialists and Healthcare
“Bernie created a movement,” Stern said about the 2016 race and the rise of the Democratic Socialists.
“The one thing they have in common is that they want to see a national health system,” Stern mentioned, with healthcare being delivered similarly to how we deliver police and the fire department and roads.
“You should always be able to see a doctor whether you can afford it or not,” Stern said of things that virtually every Democrat believes in, while not all Republicans think that way.
When one of the hosts mentioned that this just isn’t fiscally possible, Stern admitted we’d have to make major changes to our system, with super rich people like Jeff Bezos needing to pay more taxes, as now they effectively pay just 8% or so in income taxes.
The rest of us, that can’t afford to find all the loopholes, will pay anywhere from 15% to 30% in income taxes. For Stern, the system just isn’t fair.
Stern says that the corporate healthcare companies that make Obamacare so expensive are the ones that own Congress.
“The Affordable Care Act was a major concession to insurers,” he said. “It gave Americans the right to buy health insurance and make American companies rich.”
Stern says that Congress worked to help insurers while hurting premium payers.
Stern favors a low-cost insurance option for the nation. He thinks we could create something if the president got behind it, made a deal with Dems, and ensured the wealthy paid a bit more.
And that’s about it.
The show ended at 10 AM.
As I said, the audience for that show is around 20,000…though who exactly are those people?
Most are conservative, and most are old. If you judge by the advertising that leads off every commercial break, most of the audience members are old men that can’t get it up without their Viagra knock-offs.
We’ll see how well the country gets off when voting ends in two months.
I don’t know which candidates will win or lose, but I am convinced the people of America and the people of Montana will lose.
Most of us aren’t rich. We don’t come from well-off families. We don’t have the phone numbers of important people in our back pocket.
I’m glad Eric Stern decided to come on the radio and share his views on a conservative radio station in one of Montana’s most liberal cities.
He had some good ideas, but I’m not sure Democrats will be able to see them through.
As always, we’ll be watching and waiting to see how it all plays out.