Rob Quist is the candidate.
Now it’s time for Democrats to do their duty and vote for him.
Personally, I couldn’t be happier.
The reason is simple – I support Brian Schweitzer. If he thinks Rob is the man, then that’s fine by me.
I pretty much decided that in early-January after Rob and I talked on the phone about his ideas and his chances in the race.
I told him he'd be a long-shot against Curtis, but my goodness, he’s pulled it off.
He travelled to 40 counties meeting people face to face and he reached over 300,000 via social media.
Now he’ll be going against the GOP candidate for the May 25 special election.
Let’s recap what happened today.
At least the venue was better than in August 2014. Back then it was at the fairgrounds.
Anyways, today it was at the Great Northern Town Center area, probably inside that convention room off the Silver Star Steak House.
I remember when Marc Racicot had some evening shindig there in 2004 – my God, us dishwashers didn’t get out of there until 6 AM.
Thankfully the Dems won’t be putting service industry workers through that hell today, like Republicans will be tomorrow night.
Yep, both Parties are using the same venue.
I expect the average age of the delegates will be about the same, however – about a decade or two away from death.
Yep, look at all that gray hair…and no hair!
With a crowd like that, how can the youth turnout be anything but record-setting this year, huh?
Speaking of young voters, what is their turnout in Montana?
It’s very hard to say.
We know that in 2016 the total turnout was 74% for the general, and in 2014 it was 55%.
After the 2012 elections the Montana Kaimin reported that youth voting only equaled 15% of the total turnout that year.
Despite Montana students accounting for 1/6 of all eligible voters, just 46% cast a ballot that year.
Back in 1972 the number was 72%.
The worst year for youth turnout in America was 1998, with just 25% of young people feeling the need to vote.
And you know what? I don’t think this roomful of old folks this morning is going to bump those numbers, not in the slightest.
Images & Analysis of the 2017 Montana Democratic Special Nominating Convention
Special thanks to Elizabeth Marum, Jen Gross, Thom Bridge, Mike Dennison, JP Pomnichowski, Nick Lockridge, Mary Ann Dunwell, Marian Bradley, and any others I’ve missed for posting photos of the convention on social media.
So we got started at 10 but candidates didn’t start talking until after 12.
Candidates would each be allowed 15 minutes to present their case, meaning it could have taken 2 hours just to get through ‘em all.
Thankfully a few showed restraint and talked for half that time or less.
Before they spoke we had to listen to a bunch of delegates sing their praises, however.
That just added to the shindig’s overall running time.
“After 30 minutes of speeches from delegates, Quist, McCarthy and Curtis” had the most support, the IR’s Erin Loranger told us.
By 11:30 the Montana Standard was telling us that the winner was “expected to emerge sometime in the early afternoon.”
Many people decided to take lunch.
Around 11:50, Mike Dennison told us that voting wasn’t expected to start until about 1:30. He also figured it’d “go more than one ballot.”
And besides that, the place was sealed-up pretty tight. Press wasn’t reporting much from the event, and you had no idea what the mood of the delegates was.
So if you were at home like me, you had to sit and wait…like you had been for the past 3 months.
If you were in the convention you could perhaps move around, chat a bit, and pretty much speculate.
There was suspense all around, and in my opinion, needless waiting.
I mean…1:30? Shit.
Candidate speeches started off at 12:10 with Rob Quist.
Quist kept things under 10 minutes, McCarthy took up his full 15, and some of the other candidates went a bit longer.
McCarthy said in his speech that he had a team in place during his last congressional run that shot his name recognition from 4% to 96%.
That’s impressive, though I’m not sure how you measure something like that.
Link Neimark was the third up, around 12:35, and he got things started off by saying he’s fed up with the Democratic Party.
Helluva way to start, Link, helluva way to start. To many of the delegates in the room, might have been the end to your involvement in the Party.
Thin skins, Link, thin skins.
I liked how Neimark talked – slamming Citizen’s United and saying effectively that the Party has lost its direction.
I’ve been saying that for years. MT Dems don’t want to hear it.
I wonder how many wanted to hear it today. They sure did hear it – Neimark’s speech was the longest yet.
Despite that, no one bothered to take a photo of him speaking.
Real chummy crowd, Democrats are.
Next came Amanda Curtis, a little after 12:50.
She said she was the most qualified, that we can’t try to trick Republicans into voting for us, and that Montana was the envy of all because of the work Denise Juneau did for education.
Around 1:05 Dan West got up to talk, mentioning Billings several times. I liked his idea to bring a map showing his support across the country. Good for the ‘worried-about-donations’ crowd.
Word on the floor was that West was an “inspiring voice for the next generation,” my emphasis there, although I think that was the consensus among the mainly-older delegates too.
Tom Weida was up around 1: 25.
No one much reported on what he had to say.
Weida…Niemark…Meyer…no one took those candidates seriously right from the get-go. On the GOP side they just made everyone pay a $1,700 filing fee so they wouldn’t have to listen to all that ‘needless’ talk.
That’s the thing – Democrats will strut around like they’re all special, that it’s a Party of the people and that anyone can be a member.
When you see what happens to newcomers with no support like those I just mentioned, however, you know that’s pure BS.
Around 1:40 or so John Meyer got up to talk.
Around 1:45 or so Gary Stein was up. I totally missed this candidate, so sorry about that.
There wasn’t much reporting on what these last three people said.
Most of the reporting of the day came to us not from a MTN or Lee Newspapers reporter, but from Jen Gross, a young Montana senator from Billings.
One of our best reporters is now working in Wisconsin.
Stein wrapped-up shortly before 2 PM and that finished-up the speeches.
A few minutes before voting started, Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey said that McCarthy’s wife was quitting her education job and moving out of the US. He wondered if Dems knew this.
The first round of voting started at 2:02.
And then the first round of vote counting started at 2:10.
Pat Williams kept everyone entertained with his witty banter as the votes were counted.
Vote counting went on for 16 minutes. At 2:26 the second ballot started.
It was very suspenseful during that time, and no one was sure who’d made it past the first round.
Social media had gone silent.
By 2:34 we’d learned from Mike Dennison that “No Dem reached 50% on 1st ballot,” and that “Quist had most, followed by Curtis and McCarthy.”
It was Quist 57, Curtis 39 and McCarthy 38.
West and Stein were still in it as well, with 17 and 6 votes, respectively. Meyer, Weida and Neimark, however, were out.
I’d like to take a moment to thank those three for putting themselves out there and running.
By 2:50 we were still waiting.
They had to print a second ballot, so that’s about 10 minutes, then it’s voting – another 10 to 15 minutes – and then counting, which might take 15 minutes more.
That’s another 45 minutes before we’d know the next count.
The second ballot was on blue paper whereas the first was on pink, and by 3:00 they were counting them.
As the 160 delegates waited they looked into their smartphones, constantly refreshing screens to look for new updates on Twitter or Facebook.
By 3:10 vote counting was done and it was Quist 62, Curtis 47, and McCarthy 42.
West voluntarily withdrew with 8 votes at that point and Stein, with 1 vote, was dropped. That made it a three-person race from that point on.
If no majority could be reached on the third ballot, either McCarthy or Curtis would be dropped.
Delegates had two minutes to vote, starting around 3:18. The room was deathly silent.
Counting of the third ballot – in yellow – began at 3:22.
Tom Glover from Great Falls did a good job keeping us updated at this point. He said the room was gradually growing louder with excitement as counting neared its end.
Then at 3:30 it was figured that we’d need to go to a fourth round of balloting.
McCarthy was out, with 37 votes.
It’d be Quist and his 72 going against Curtis and her 51 for the win.
About what I thought it’d be back on January 8. But now we had a hitch:
Would McCarthy’s supporters flock to Curtis and put her over the top?
It was the question on everyone’s mind.
And then around 3:45 we knew – it’d be Rob Quist.
He got 90 votes to Curtis’s 69.
Wow, what a day!
Rob Quist’s your candidate and the Dem Party brass expects you to fall in line.
That’s the message Dems want you to take away after today, and they made that clear several days ago.
“Blue No Matter Who is basically calling all our activists and folks that have been involved since the election,” Nancy Keenan told MTPR. “And at that point begin to talk about how we can mobilize people in their local communities, knocking doors making phone calls, talking to their neighbors.”
Ah…blue no matter who.
Takes a bit of the sting away from voting for someone the Party brass shoved down your throat, eh?
Well, that’s probably how a lot of Curtis/McCarthy supporters feel right now.
And really, when you think about it there are only two candidates that really cared about Montana before all this got started months ago:
- Amanda Curtis
- Kelly McCarthy
Those are the only two that have run for office before.
Yep, not a single one of those other 6 people have ever felt the need to run for office before.
Talk about leaders.
Instead they waited for a time when they wouldn’t have to go through a primary, a time when they just had to woo the Party brass.
Harsh? You’re damn right, but it’s also the truth.
I don’t think any of those other 5 people will be running for office anytime soon after today, either.
County commissioner…PSC…legislator…hell – City Council!
All would be great places for them to turn, but I feel they won’t.
I told Dan West earlier this week that both the legislature and the city council would be better starting points for him.
West touts himself as the youngest of the special election candidates.
Well, the legislature was good enough for 18-year-old Jacob Bachmeier of Havre.
Why’s it not good enough for West? Maybe because of all that time he’s already spent in D.C., huh?
And I don’t even know enough about Meyer, Niemark, Stein, or Weida to say one thing or another about them.
Again, I’d suggest either the legislature or the city council – running for either is a great way to start your political career.
Announcing for a federal office you never had a shot at winning is not.
Anyways, you can see what Dems are up against, just look at the numbers and the map.
In 2014 Zinke took 15% more of the vote than Lewis, and in 2016 Zinke took nearly 16% more than Juneau.
In 2014 we saw 55,000 more people vote for the GOP than the Dems, and in 2016 we saw 79,000 more people do so.
Despite those numbers, Democrats feel good about themselves.
They think they can win.
Let’s not get into the ramrodding they took for 4/5 of the statewide races last year.
Democrats think buyer’s remorse over Trump will carry them through.
Mostly, prepare for a whirlwind of bullshit, half-truths, and outright lies for the next 12 weeks.
It’ll be the same strategy as Bullock used, for the same people are running the Party.
It’ll be interesting to see how Quist and his campaign wrangles around those goons.
And maybe Quist or the Party will pull it of – I always thought he had the best shot at winning it, at least after Schweitzer endorsed him.
Despite that, I still think this’ll be a 51% to 49% kinda race, favoring the GOP.
Although we don’t know who the GOP candidate is yet, we’ll find that out late tomorrow night, hopefully before 10 PM.
It's about 5 hours after the convention and I just want to say how excited I am.
I've sent off a $20 donation to Quist, the first time I've donated to a political candidate since 2014.
I look forward to getting a bumper sticker for my car real quick, and a yard sign in April...before absentee/mail-in ballots go out.
If you'd like to donate to Rob, you can do so here on Act Blue or send a check in the mail like I did.
I sure hope he wins.
Update #2: March 8
People are emailing me their concerns. These concerns revolve around the disunity in the MT Democratic Party.
This is what people are observing:
Update #3: March 9
I'll include this gun infographic here that we're talking about in the comments.
Quist has it on his Facebook page, and I think the East-Coast-dominated Hilltop crowd made it for him.
I hope we see less of this.
One final note - Quist will be doing a Missoula rally on Saturday around 11 (not sure where) and then people can go knock on doors for him afterwards.
Actually, it's a Missoula Dem event and I'm not sure if he'll even be there.