So let’s talk.
There’s not a whole lot going on in the news.
I wrote that sentence a week ago, and it pretty much still holds true.
Lots of motorcycle crashes, some ATV deaths, boating mishaps…the typical summer fare in Montana.
There’s a new bout of forest fires going on in my area – to the south of me in Hamilton and to the northwest in Thompson Falls, I believe – but I think we expected that’d happen eventually.
I will say that I didn’t encounter much road construction on the way to Helena from Missoula last week, and that was nice.
Yeah, I headed over to hit up the Last Chance Stampede and Rodeo and carnival and fair and all the rest of it.
I should have taken my camera to get some images for you, but oh well.
It’s the usual rickety rides, high-priced and artery-clogging food, and interesting-looking people.
My 5-year-old son Paul and I got some wristbands so we could go on the rides as much as we want.
We hit up the Mardi Gras mirror house about two dozen times, went on Dizzy Dragons spinny-go-round-thing about a dozen, and even on Bubba’s Roadhouse a few times.
The latter is a fun house with moving floors and such, so I had to carry Paul through much of it. That’s why we went a few times.
I took him on the mini-dragon roller coaster too, but he was screaming so much they had to stop it and let us off.
I went on the Star Spinner and Kamikaze by myself and felt like I’d be sick afterward.
Instead we just went back to the grandparents’ house because Paul was tired.
I decided to go to the Historical Society.
I actually went up to the Historical society for an hour an a half around lunch time, then an hour before closing too.
I wish I could have stayed longer, but I did find time to get back the next day and get the last bit on Schwinden, the new Constitution, and the coal tax trust fund so I can finish my 6th book of the state’s history.
I got some research done at the historical society on Forrest Anderson and Tom Judge too.
Both were Montana governors in the 60s and 70s.
Governor Tom Judge
What I find so amazing is that the guy had two terms then ran for his third but was defeated by his own lieutenant governor in the primary.
When that lieutenant governor, Ted Schwinden, had his own two gubernatorial terms come to an end in 1988, Tom Judge came out of nowhere and won the Democratic primary.
Some might remember that Frank Morrison was a big contender that year, but he only got 27% to Judge’s 39%.
My it was a packed primary in 1988, with 6 teams running for the top state offices.
It’s not surprising that Judge came back and won like that, really. “For many Democrats – even those who’d previously voted him out of office – his tenure marked the high water mark of progressive politics,” the Missoulian said in an editorial.
Pat Williams said Judge “was the most aggressive governor in my lifetime. He came along in the heyday of progressives and was one.”
Bob Brown called him “very approachable” and a “philosophical liberal,” but one “more open to solutions than confrontations.”
Judge’s “1970s-brand liberalism was the best the Democrats had to over in 1988,” but Montana wasn’t ready to welcome back its 18th governor as its 20th. Republican Stan Stephens got in. The vote was 52% to 46% with Libertarian William Morris taking about 2%.
Judge got into real estate and securities after that and spent much of his remaining years in Chandler, Arizona.
It was due to his health, and his separation from his second wife in 2003 probably didn’t help with that
Who knows, maybe it gave him some peace for his last years. He died on September 8, 2006, of pulmonary fibrosis related to rheumatoid arthritis. He was 71 years old.
Something that’s not talked about much is the bloodbath that took place in 1979-80 when Democrats weren’t sure if Judge was going to run for a third term or not.
Ted Schwinden’s Run
The uncertainty of the race “made it difficult for would-be endorsers to come out of the closet for fear of alienating Judge only to have Schwinden decide against a gubernatorial bid,” the IR wrote at the time.
It was also clear at the time that “pro-Schwinden forces” had been letting potential supporters “know for months that they’d like Judge to step aside and give the lieutenant governor a crack at the state’s top job.”
Many thought Judge might forgo a third term as governor to challenge Representative Ron Marlenee for the eastern district U.S. House seat.
Schwinden did indeed have his fans. They liked the “scrappiness” of his appearance, as opposed to the “three-piece-suit panache of Judge.”
He had his detractors as well, who labeled Schwinden as “sometimes arrogant, often aloof and as having a tendency to lecture audiences.” He’d also been known to rise “to the bait of hecklers, most recently at a session with angry truckers in Missoula.”
I feel Schwinden was pretty fierce in getting his way, which meant Judge would not be winning that primary.
It was a close one in 1980, with Schwinden getting 51% to Judge’s 42%.
I wish there would have been more articles in the files on that race, but sadly, there’s not much.
There’s always the state newspapers on microfilm to go through, but boy, that’s a hassle.
Perhaps you remember something about those times.
Maybe you don’t want to. Schwinden, at the behest of legislative Republicans, pushed through $100 million in tax cuts. For some reason Schwinden signed this, saying “the public elects the Legislature, so its actions reflect the public will.”
Historian Richard Roeder described this as “a pretty passive role of leadership.”
Then there were the cuts to the university system in 1985-86.
Of course, I could get into the benefits that Schwinden brought – unprecedented openness in government, a Build Montana infrastructure program that pumped hundreds of millions into the economy, the “Made in Montana” program.
That would take up a lot more text, however.
Maybe you’d like to talk about some of those policies. If so, feel free to comment.
Oh, and here are some of those images from the Nelson area too that I promised you last week.