He stumbled a bit right out of the gate.
You see, in his press release - I’m relying on KGVO - he said his two main issues will be the national Democrats’ Green New Deal as well as the state’s problems with addiction.
When we dig into these issues, however, we find that having a Republican in the AG’s Office actually makes these problems worse.
Let me explain.
Bennion’s reasons for running for AG are so that Montana has “an effective advocate to lead the state on public safety issues, fight government overreach, and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
He also wants to “prevent meddling from other states.”
Let’s dive into these ideas.
First, Bennion wants to improve public safety in Montana.
I think this is a complete joke, as we know that no matter how much time and money the AG’s Office throws at the problem of public safety, nothing ever changes.
Consider the crime lab.
In March 2016 and again in February 2018, crime lab employees were caught stealing drugs.
It’s the AG’s job to oversee the crime lab, and the current GOPer there - Tim Fox - was unable to do that. Will Bennion be able to do better, or is it time for a Dem to take over here?
What about kids?
Back in 2013 our GOP AG really made it a point to try and protect kids from sexual predators and yet we seem to have more of these cases in the news than ever (I wish I could find some stats, but I can't).
And what about Indians?
No one really knows how many Indian women go missing each year, but in 2018 it’s figured that around 24 did so.
It’s the job of Montana’s AG to oversee missing persons cases, but the issue of missing native women was never an important issue to the current GOP AG until he was forced to make it an issue due to overwhelming attention in the media.
For years the GOP has failed Indians in Montana. Is electing another Republican to that office really the answer to this problem?
Now let’s talk about gambling.
The AG’s Office oversees gambling regulations, but I think this is a joke. We know from our efforts to follow the money that gambling in Montana is the biggest corruption racket of all, with the industry paying off legislators more than any other industry.
That doesn’t really matter to our GOP AG, who even admits that we have 17,000 problem gamblers in the state.
Oh well - without them how would we make enough tax revenue to fund all our programs?
That’s what a Republican in the AG’s Office gets you - a lack of caring when it comes to public health, so long as the money keeps rolling in.
Alright, enough on the public safety aspect. Let’s turn to fighting government overreach.
The big thing here for Bennion seems to be furthering Tim Fox’s agenda of using the courts to thwart the national Democrats and their agenda.
We see Bennion championing this policy with his comments against the Green New Deal.
The main issue that Bennion has is that people from the west coast that are trying to manipulate Montana’s economy.”
Utterances like this make you realize that Bennion isn’t that smart.
For instance, so far there’s been absolutely no meddling based on the Green New Deal.
Perhaps we could put healthcare into the ‘meddling’ category, but in Montana we know that healthcare expansion has actually helped all the rich hospital owners...people that Bennion will need donating to his campaign.
Yeah, it’s helped a few poor people too...but the GOP will allow that because so many rich people profited first (mostly insurance companies).
More examples of the kind of meddling that Bennion will fight using your tax dollars include:
- Fighting against clean water rules (Fox joined that lawsuit in 2015)
- Fighting to keep transgender people out of bathrooms (Fox joined that lawsuit in 2016)
- Fighting against endangered species (Fox joined that lawsuit in 2016)
- Fighting to keep coal as a dominant fossil fuel (Fox joined that lawsuit in 2018)
Seems like a huge waste of Montana’s tax money.
Another huge waste is the policies we’ve had in place for nearly 20 years in this state that have the rich paying very little in the way of taxes (think capital gains).
But remember - it’s typically only rich people that ever get elected to the AG spot in the first place, so this isn’t important to them.
Finally, let’s look at meth and the abysmal job our Department of Justice has done to combat this problem.
The AG is in charge of the Department of Justice.
In 2008 meth was costing Montana $200 million a year, and we had 7 meth lab busts that year.
This was a huge improvement over the early-2000s.
But then Republican Tim Fox got into the AG’s Office. Meth use shot up.
The MT DOJ had 68 meth cases in 2010, but then 143 in 2012 and 232 in 2015.
By 2016 there were 500 meth cases in Yellowstone County alone. It was clear to many that the Montana Department of Justice had dropped the ball.
The impact on kids was horrendous.
In 2010 we had 800 kids in foster care due to parental substance abuse issues, but by 2016 we had 1,600.
Our court system has been decimated by this drug scourge, with 8th District Court case loads going from about 700 in 2009 to over 1,000 in 2016.
The court’s Judge Pinski spends 80% of his time dealing with drug-related issues.
Montana’s meth problem actually got worse with a Republican overseeing the Justice Department.
I’m confident that if we have another Republican in the AG’s Office, our meth problem will only get worse.
I’m sure Jon Bennion is a great guy and a great family man (I know he’s a helluva woodworker).
At this time, however, voting for Jon Bennion is not the best idea.
The main reason for this is that his boss has done such a substandard job as AG for the past 8 years that it’s time for a new political party to take control.
Maybe if Fox hadn’t been so focused on his gubernatorial ambitions over the past two years, Bennion would have an easier path to take over this office.
As it stands, a Dem could win this race if they point out a lot the glaring problems I just pointed out to you.
Sadly, Democrats have shown time and time again in Montana that they’re unable to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses to attain the win.
Will 2020 be different?
For 8 years we’ve had a Republican in the AG’s Office, but the problems that the AG oversees have only gotten worse during that time.
Perhaps it’s time a Democrat takes control of that office.
I think Kim Dudik would make a better candidate.
Alas, Montana is a red state and it’s likely we’ll see another GOPer in the AG’s Office.
Still, 2020 will see a lot of disgruntled Democrats come to the polls, and I think in Montana we might see a surge in urban voting...enough to put a dent in the continual rural gains that offset whatever wins the Dems typically get.
In other words, Dems could have one of their best years in the Treasure State in decades.
But the realist in me only sees two possible statewide wins for Dems - OPI and Auditor.
I think SoS could move over to the ‘in-play’ category if Stapleton keeps doing such a horrendous job and the media calls him out on it.
Let's keep our eye on Bennion and see how he does going forward.