For instance, I like the idea of keeping taxes low. The idea about carrying guns in schools doesn’t thrill me too much, however.
I like the idea of decreasing abortions in this state, preferably through education. I don’t like the idea of cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood.
Most Montanans like the ideas that Republicans have, for Republicans continue to win the legislature each cycle.
The Party doesn’t need a lot of money to do this, and we routinely see GOP candidates win rural races with just $1,000 raised, oftentimes less.
Many times they don’t even have a Democratic opponent.
This is good, as the Republican Party doesn’t have the cash to support those candidates.
There’s not a lot of talk about the finances of our two state political parties.
That stuff’s boring.
Yet it’s in those details that we can learn – or at least glean – a lot.
For instance, take this scrambling for money.
When it comes to the Montana Democrats, they’re falling all over themselves about this $2 million that Max Baucus has left over.
It’s been about 3 years now that we’ve known about that low relatively low sum, yet Dems continue to look at it and smile and think one day it might help them.
Meanwhile, on the Montana Republican side we see that they’ve mainly come to rely on one source for their money – Greg Gianforte.
Let’s take a closer look at the money.
The Republican Party’s Shaky Finances
By comparison, the Montana Democrats had $143,000 in cash at the end of 2016.
Democrats take in more in Montana in individual contributions, over $1.3 million during the 2-year reporting cycle compared to the Republicans’ $700,000.
The Democrats even take in more money from the PACs, nearly $300,000 compared to the Republicans’ nearly $200,000.
The Hillary Victory Fund was a big contributor to the Montana Democratic Party over the past two years.
Nearly all the transfers to the Party from Affiliated Committees are the Hillary Victory Fund.
I call this money laundering, myself.
There are 159 pages of names from all over the country, though California seems to be the hot spot.
These people don’t live in Montana but their money ends up in the Montana Democratic Party’s bank account via the Victory for Hillary Fund.
These out-of-staters contributed $3.3 million over the past two years, though most of it in 2016.
Republicans took in $127,000 from such people.
Non-federal transfers is another way our two state parties get their money.
Democrats take $1.1 million that way, Republicans $182,000.
When it comes to expenditures a big problem is how much the two parties are giving to various affiliated committees, at least for the Democrats.
The Republicans sent just $33,000 that way over the past two years.
The Democrats sent nearly $3 million.
They gave most to the DNC, including a whopping $1.05 million on October 11.
The Montana GOP has had some shake-ups over the past few years.
Will Deschamps was Party Chair for a long time, starting in 2010.
Bowen Greenwood was the executive director of the Montana Republican Party from around 2010 to just after the 2014 elections.
After that Chris Shipp took over. He’d been on the communications staff for a few years.
Back in September 2015 Shipp abruptly resigned.
By November a new director was in place.
Yes, Chris Shipp was out and Tim Gould was in.
Seven months later at the GOP Convention, Deschamps got the boot from the Party Chair position and Jeff Essman took over.
These moves have proven disastrous for the Party’s finances.
In the two years before Essman took over, the Montana Republican Party took in about $465,000 more in donations.
From 2011 to 2013 they took in $1.3 million more.
Either Republicans in Montana have gotten very stingy with their pocketbooks, or they disagree with the direction the Party has taken.
For comparison’s sake, Montana Democrats took in $3.9 million more over 2014-16 than they did two years earlier.
In fact, between 2011 and 2017, Montana Democrats took in $13.9 million in donations while the Montana Republicans took in just $5.8 million.
Donations are down…how do you account for that?
Well, you don’t.
You rely on a billionaire businessman to make up the difference.
That might be working in the short-term, but how sustainable is that long-term?
And do Montana Republicans even care?