I’d like to tell you about it in this long, 3,400-word post.
I’m over here because it’s spring break in Missoula, school is out, and I’m trying to kill time before my son goes back to school.
That’s a little easier when you can go to the grandparents’ house. They have TV, after all.
I’m not much interested in that idiot box, so I find other things to do.
Tomorrow, for instance, I might head up to the MT Historical Society to do some research.
For today, however, I decided to hit-up the Rob Quist rally that was in town.
After that I went up to MT Dem HQ on Sixth Street to see if I could get any answers.
Let’s talk about it all, as well as what Gianforte is doing (or not doing).
The Rob Quist Public Lands Rally
An hour before the noon rally, just 36 people said they’d be going, though 43 more were interested.
But my, those 36 people were some interesting people!
- Billings Senator Jen Gross
- Brandon DeMars
- Jacquie Helt
- Adam Schafer
- Trent Bolger
- Josh Manning
- Aaron Browning
- Colleen Martin
- Andy Shirtliff
- Ronja Abel
- Allison Dale-Riddle
So that’s a veritable who’s-who of the Montana Democratic Party’s Helena staff.
When I saw that the night before, I knew I had to attend that rally.
So I did.
I arrived just around noon. There were about 60 people there, with maybe 10 to 15 being Dem staffers.
I counted about 15 yard-sign-style signs, as well as one large banner.
Where you can get these signs…I dunno. I didn’t see any in the MT Dem HQ lobby when I went up there a bit later.
Rob Quist arrived about a minute after noon, walked into the crowd and talked with some people, then got up to the podium.
Someone introduced him and talked about public lands, focusing on the Gianforte stream access story.
Quist then spoke at 12:05.
He said that millionaires want to “own and fence-in” public lands in Montana and that the sale of public lands is a “theft against our children and grandchildren.”
One of my favorite lines that Quist gave was when he mentioned people that feel down-and-out, perhaps a little depressed.
“Buddy, you need to go take a hike!” Quist said, referring to the natural beauty our public lands offer, and how good being out in them can make you feel.
The crowd liked that and I got a good chuckle from it too.
He gave a few digs at Rick Perry as well, and mentioned that our wildfires need to be paid for like other natural disasters in this country.
I’d say there were about 7 or 8 bursts of applause during Quist’s 7-minute speech.
After that Quist talked with the crowd a bit. He’s easy to spot – the only one wearing a cowboy hat.
I noticed that the MT Democratic Party’s press secretary, and former GF Trib reporter – Kirsten Cates – was going around taking pictures of Quist with people.
I hung around for a bit, went up to Mike Dennison and introduced myself, then did the same with Rob.
I told him who I was and that I write Big Sky Words, he said he was happy to meet me and that was that.
Besides the Helena rally today, there will be rallies in:
- Billings on Tuesday
- Missoula on Wednesday
- Havre on Friday
- Great Falls on March 29
- Butte on April 6
There’s also a smattering of private home events, like the one I received a mailer for last week:
That’s the only thing I’ve received in the mail from the Quist campaign.
I thought I might get a thank-you note for donating $20 – which I did the day after he won the nomination – but that’s not been the case.
Maybe he’s too busy being on the road. Maybe he doesn’t want to waste the stamps.
I wonder if he doesn’t have the printing done. Or maybe these things are just slow coming.
Anyways, I was happy to go to that rally today, show my support, take some images, and then come home to tell you about it.
Where in MT is Greg Gianforte?
Arrange your pieces, place your bets, and roll them dice – it’s time to visit la-la land!
Yes, Gianforte is lying low, ignoring Montana voters in favor of a stay-at-home campaign.
This is clear for a variety of reasons:
- First, besides the Billings St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he hasn’t made any appearances since winning the nomination on March 6…two weeks ago now.
- Next, he’s not wasting any money on social media this cycle, like he had lots of paid out-of-staters doing in 2016. He is doing a lot of free radio.
- Finally, he has money so knows he can bombard us with ads and mailers and other shit.
We’ll see if that strategy is enough for him to win. I fully expect he’ll do some barnstorming around the time mail-in ballots go out, and perhaps even during the last week of the election.
Besides that, I don’t see him leaving his Bozeman house too often.
Why should he?
He went that route in 2016 and it didn’t work, though he came damn close.
Also, people just 'saw the shit out of him' 5 months ago, and for a full year before that.
Maybe they need a break.
Mostly, though, it’s the money.
He has a shit-ton of it, Quist does not.
The MT Dems and Their 2017 Finances
I think it’s one of my best posts this year.
The Party’s largest expenditure last year was on salaries for unelected officials.
Some people justify this, but I’m not one of ‘em.
I figure if a regular MT citizen donates to the Dem Party, the Party should do all it can to get that money to the front lines.
By front lines I mean to the candidate and their team so they can do printing, mailers, TV ads, social media ads, and even hire people to knock on doors.
But the Dem Party likes to keep that money, laundering it out to whom it pleases, and in a way it pleases.
If you’re not familiar with money laundering in MT Democratic campaigns, please read this article.
Sure, it might be legal, but slavery was once legal in this country as well.
Didn’t make it right, just as this corruption we see from the MT Democratic Party doesn’t make it right.
Hell, I suppose they’d be able to justify it more if they could win, but they can’t even do that.
1/5 last year, remember?
Anyways, how’s it look this year for finances?
So far we have January and February FEC reports to go off of, and I figure I’ll put these reports up all year as we have to hold the Party’s feet to the fire.
If we don’t see them change their “leadership” by the convention, then it’s a good bet that they’ll never change, that they’ll always remain corrupt.
Hey, we allow it. We point out the GOP when they do this shit, but when Dems do it, we ignore it.
So we have no honor or integrity.
In January and February the MT Dems brought in $101,000, most coming from individual contributions.
Yes, regular people giving to the Party. I wonder if they know that 3/4 of their donations goes to paying unelected officials to…well, I guess lose 4/5 statewide races plus the congressional race.
Or were they being paid to do something else?
Again, what do these Dem staffers do, the majority of whom are women?
More women in high places and positions of leadership...ever hear that refrain from MT Dems?
I’m sorry, but I think the MT Dem Party has all the top spots filled by women already.
Yet another lie from the corrupt Party (they just keep comin’, don’t they!)
Besides the individuals giving to the Party, affiliated committees and non-federal transfers and Levin funds (whatever the hell they are) also brought in $50,000.
So for the first two months of this year, the MT Democratic Party has brought in $166,297.
They’ve spent $131,852 during that time.
- Each month they pay $2,941 to National to use their voter database
- On January 4 the Dems spent $3,000 with Mothership Strategies for donor development
- On January 26 the Dems spent $1,234 on Chili O’Brien catering
- On February 8 the Dems spent $2,275 with Gordon & Schwenkmeyer for fundraising fees
- On February 8 the Dems transferred $25,000 to the DNC
- From January to February the Dems spent $8,750 with New Blue Interactive, LLC for donor development
Let’s dig into this.
Gordon & Schwenkmeyer is a shit outfit out of California that just loves the ACLU, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and the DNC.
In other words, they don’t give a flying fuck about working Montanans.
Mostly, this company does telemarketing. Their sole Google review is 1-star, saying they're a crappy robo-call company.
Yes, robo-calls are illegal in Montana but both Parties do them.
When it comes to Mothership Strategies, the company is based out of D.C. and has raised more than $200 million for the people that pay them.
That’s the thing – MT Dems are spending money so they can raise more money.
That’s their only priority if you go by 2017 spending – increasing the amount of money they have.
Here we knew since December or so that there’d be a special election.
Dems could have prepared, handing off a strong campaign organization to whatever candidate was chosen.
Instead they didn’t do that.
They just spent money so they could ask you for more money.
New Blue Interactive is based out of D.C. as well, and they focus on digital marketing strategy.
How do these kinds of expenditures help Montana candidates win?
I don’t think they do. I think the sole function of these expenditures is to move money around.
Montana Democrats love using out-of-state firms for all of their services, even though we have Montana businesses that could do this.
It’s just another facet of the corruption gripping the Party.
Instead of helping Montanans, they help out their out-of-state friends and cronies, most of whom are in D.C. or California.
They don’t like us to talk about this.
There’s a lot of things the MT Democratic Party doesn’t like.
Please, talk about those things as much as you can and point them out to whoever will listen.
Or did you think things were just rosy as they are?
And if not, did you think they were going to change on their own?
Good luck with that.
Nope, we need to talk about this corruption.
Quist’s Lack of Help
I doubt it.
The Montana Democratic Party just transferred $25,000 to the DNC six weeks ago.
Will the DNC be transferring that to Quist, in the kind of money laundering move they like?
I doubt it.
No, that $25,000 will go to the important races, like the other special election races in the country or even the 2018 races.
Dems can win those. The DNC doesn’t think that’s the case here in Montana this spring.
And it’s not like the MT Dems don’t have the money.
At the end of February they had $141,000 in cash on hand.
My, that would go a long way in getting a Quist ad on TV!
But the Dems sit on their cash. I guess they need it to pay all the unelected staffers they have.
We know that costs them more than anything each year.
What’s sad is that this is ruining Quist’s chances at winning this election.
People on Quist’s Facebook page know this, and are not afraid to say so.
Nearly 6,900 people have liked that page.
Here are some of their comments:
- “The word on this kind of stuff needs to get out earlier!” said Marion Barch Cherry on the Helena rally today.
- “Where can we get yard signs?” Char Hay said on a Quist logo post.
- “I’d love a few stickers,” another said on the same post, while someone else added, “Yes, I also would like a yard sign.”
- “When are we going to start seeing ads on TV? Your opponent’s ads make me so mad!”
- “One thing that we’re being asked here in Cut Bank is do we have Quist material we can hand out to people?”
- “Why are we not seeing any television ads? Your opponent is dominating the tv.”
- “What is the National Democratic Party doing to help out to get Democrats elected in states like Montana!? They should be putting some CASH behind the chatter.”
- “Where are your tv commercials? I am seeing a boat load of Gianforte commercials…He is talking trash about you with no response.”
Those are all comments from different people that came over the last four days.
I put my own comment up last night:
I know how Montana Dems operate because I jumped through their hoops during my 2014 legislative run.
I gave them $60 to use their Voter Access Network and then around $500 for printing both walking cards and remittance envelopes.
It was a huge waste of money.
The walking cards they make are about 4x5 inches…much too large. Worse, they’re all based off generic templates.
Smart candidates skip the Dem printers – all of whom seem to be located in Billings – in favor of local print shops.
It’s cheaper and you get the printing back about a month earlier.
I know this because I went that route during my 2016 legislative run.
Signs are pretty much the same way, though I didn’t make any in 2014.
So that’s why I made my comment – if you have people in Cut Bank going out and doing their own printing, that’s both great and sad.
It’s great because they care. It’s sad because the MT Dems aren’t doing this.
Hell, Quist and his team should be doing this themselves!
Again, the inexperience.
I know if Quist runs again, say for the legislature in 2018 or something, he won’t use the Dem machine for this stuff.
It’s too expensive, takes too long, and the product isn’t that good.
People loved my 2016 business card-style walking cards. Some of them even asked for two.
No one gave a flying fuck about my 2014 Dem Party walking cards. Those probably went right in the trash.
I hope Rob thinks about that, but again, this is something you get with experience.
Visiting MT Dem HQ
For instance, if Illinois-native Colleen Martin is making $60,000 a year…why do Dems keep losing?
What is her position, anyways, and why is she earning nearly twice as much as the MT Democratic Party’s executive director, Nancy Keenan?
What does she do?
It’s a very simple question, and I went up to Dem HQ today to see if I could get it answered.
Now, this was more political theatre than anything, as I know the Dem leaches that work in that building don’t want anything to do with me.
That’s why I figured visiting them would be so much fun!
So I get up there around 1:30 or so, figuring people would be back from lunch by then.
There were 3 young men in the lower offices, one eating lunch, one doing something on the computer, and another looking at his phone.
I asked one if anyone was around to answer my questions about Democratic Party finances.
I was told Trent Bolger was the one for that, but alas, he was not in at the moment.
I asked if Colleen Martin was there, and the guy went upstairs to check.
Sadly, she was not there either.
When I enquired if there was anyone that could answer a few questions, I was told sorry, but no.
So I left, walking by one of the New York license-plated vehicle as I did so.
Oh, so many questions!
We know from the FEC reports that the MT Democratic Party files each month that Allison Dale-Riddle is paid $1,970 every two weeks.
Pray tell…what does she do exactly?
What is her job?
How is she benefiting common Montana workers, or even Montana candidates that are trying to help those workers.
I could find no information online, and the Dem HQ was unwilling to talk.
One question that I was dying to ask involved the Dems and their meeting at Bert & Ernies on Saturday.
At that restaurant meeting, why did the Helena Dems reject precinct organization proposals that had been put forth?
I think it’s because the current precinct organization benefits those in power, as well as the unelected MT Dem Party brass that makes so much in salary each year.
Another question I had was why Nancy Keenan is always conspicuously absent from the various Democratic county central committee chair gatherings.
Again, I feel this is about centralizing power in Helena.
Look what happened when Quist went out and organized some committees – he created more central committee votes, which pushed him over the top at the March 5 nominating convention.
That must be alarming to the Party brass in Helena. If too many of those ‘new’ rural Democrats get votes, they might kick out the current Party brass.
We can’t have that, now can we?
I couldn’t do a better job, myself.
Running for office is hard…I know – I’ve done so twice.
And that was just a small district race in one area of one city.
How the hell would you go about running a statewide campaign in one of the largest states in the union?
I’d probably do what Quist is doing now – going around to larger urban areas, knowing I can get at least a few dozen to show up.
That’s why he’s going where he’s going, that plus the chance to raise a bit of money at private house parties in some of those cities.
Now consider Dillon or Hamilton.
Where does Rob go there? I guess he could call up the local Dem committee – if there is one – and get some ideas from them.
It’d still be small coffee shop-style affair, however.
And good luck knocking on doors, no matter where it’s at.
I averaged about 50 doors a night when I was out knocking during my two runs.
That comes out to 1,400 doors a month.
Even if you go out in the afternoon as well as the evening, you might only get 3,000 doors in a month.
And what other options are there…setting up some roadside stand in Sidney or Two Dot…maybe hanging around outside a busy gas station to shake hands?
Good luck with that.
So I commiserate with Rob at the same time that I support him.
Like I said, I couldn’t do any better.
I made $17,000 last year and have about $300 in the bank right now.
Rob Quist is doing a lot better than me when it comes to personal finances, plus he’s getting some small-time donations in the mail and online.
But will it be enough to beat Gianforte?
I hope so, but I’m not confident.
In the blog and Facebook comments, you’re seeing a bit of the same thing.
Confidence is eroding, and it’s not fun to watch.
I dunno what’ll happen over the next 4 weeks before mail-in ballots go out, but I sure hope something changes.
What might those changes be?
Well, more money would be a good start. Then we could have TV ads, as well as yard signs and walking cards and maybe even some radio spots.
The Montana Democratic Party has the money for that, as does National.
Will they use it?
I sure hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.