“He was a comedian.”
At that point I knew I didn’t need to say anything else…not one word.
I had them.
And boy, once they started talking…they didn’t want to stop.
- “He’s pricing us right out of the market.”
- “Our taxes are just going up and up.”
- “There’s no jobs, the timber industry is gone, people are moving away…it’s just terrible!”
That’s what I heard from an older couple living up on Broadview Place here in Missoula.
Now, I’m not sure if Engen ever was a comedian…but his policies sure are comedic…if you’re not on the losing end of ‘em.
I heard all this on a house way up in the South Hills, about as high up into them as you could go, in fact.
The man had been born in Missoula in 1947 and his wife was a native Montanan as well.
He had what looked like a Navy tattoo on his arm while she had eyes that’d seen it all and didn’t want any nonsense in her life.
Both of them were fed up with Mayor Engen, the City Council, and Missoula government in general.
They were ready for a change, and I just happened to knock on their door at the right time.
I told them I was running for City Council, gave them my card, and likely earned myself two more votes.
One of the first questions I’m often asked while knocking on doors up in the South Hills is which Party I’m in.
“I call myself a conservative Democrat,” I tell people when they ask.
“What’s that mean?” one woman asked.
“It means I won’t take the money out of your pocket and light it on fire,” I typically reply.
Perhaps I should tell them that Montana Democrats call me a Republican and Montana Republicans call me a liberal.
I don’t think they’d care.
There is no Party affiliation on my campaign card, though the two bold sayings on the front should tip people off to my ideology.
“Lower Taxes…No Bonds.”
It’s what people want to hear.
They don’t hear it from me…I hear it from them.
Mostly, when I knock on doors, I just listen. If people want to talk, I listen, let them get it out there, let ‘em get it off their chest.
Many want to, many need to.
They’re pissed, feeling frustrated and helpless and sometimes they worry if they can stay in their homes.
The Missoula City Council isn’t worried about this at all.
Oh, our joke-of-a-Council did act like other people’s money was important to them yesterday.
It’s quite out of character for them!
“I don’t care to see the city spend all that money.”
“That money” is the $19,000 it’d cost to have a primary in Ward 4.
Usually we spend more than that to do studies that eventually turn into multi-million projects…projects which rarely benefit taxpayers.
Ward 4’s Jon Wilkins had that quote, a man that typically votes for every spending plan the Council puts forth…which he’s been doing for the 12 years he’s been in office.
Remember, your taxes have gone up 95% over the past 12 years.
That’s why I find it so hard to believe that the City Council suddenly cares about money.
They don’t – they just don’t want to have a primary election in Ward 4.
I don’t blame ‘em – voters are pissed and there’s a damn good chance Wilkins will be voted out.
I know this because I’ve knocked on 158 doors in his ward over the past 48 hours and that’s what people are telling me.
- “We need change.”
- “We need a new mayor.”
- “The city’s out of control.”
- “When will it end?”
- “Boy I hope that woman running against him can win.”
That’s what I hear when people feel like venting. And I have to say…most comments are just like that last one.
People are sick of Mayor Engen, and they want "that woman," Lisa Triepke, to defeat him…even if they don’t really know who she is or what her name is.
They just know that Engen has done them wrong and he has to be shown the door.
That’s what I hear in the well-off South Hills, at least.
So now I don’t have to worry about a primary election in about 80 days, or absentee ballots going out in 50 days.
I’ve been telling people they might expect an absentee ballot as early as August, but now that’s not the case.
Now they’ll get their absentee ballots starting around October 7
That’s 107 days from now.
It’s 138 days until November 7, the date of the election.
At least with no primary there should be a higher level of turnout for Ward 4, and city elections in general.
I wonder if that turnout will help or hurt Engen.
That’s really what this election is about – if Engen loses then there’s a good chance I’ll win.
If he wins, I’ll probably lose.
Same for Triepke. If I lose, she’ll probably be losing too.
This 2017 city election is a referendum on Engen, and every City Council race will reflect that.
Hey, it’s what people on the doors have been telling me.
I want to be fair, and that’s why we’ll take a bit of time to dig into the June FEC finance report for Montana Republicans.
Mainly, before I even open that report up I know what it’ll tell me:
Montana Republicans are spending a lot less than Democrats and they’re winning.
The report this month is just 88 pages long, about half the size of the Dem report.
Right away we see that the Montana Republican Party had $52,000 cash on hand at the beginning of May.
They brought in $363,000, spent $334,000, and had about $80,000 by the end of May.
The GOP brought in $167,000 more in donations in May than Democrats did.
Still, the GOP had about $262,000 less cash on hand than Democrats did as June began.
There are about 50 pages of Schedule A itemized receipts showing us individual donations.
Beginning on page 55 of the report we get to Schedule A itemized disbursements.
Here’s what stood out to me:
- $165,000 to Salt Lake’s Arena Communications for direct mail
- $5,000 to Billings’ TJS Strategic LLC for digital advertising and consulting
- $1,794 to Kansas’ Southwest Publishing for direct mail
- $1,260 to Maryland’s Red Curve Solutions for compliance consulting
- $1,165 to Billings’ The Political Company for printing
- $983 to have someone stay at California’s Hotel Del Coronado May 15-17
- $658 to Florida’s Steve Brown Direct Marketing for direct mail fundraising
- $650 to fly someone to Atlanta on May 2
- $492 to rent a car in San Diego on May 5
- $485 to rent a car in San Diego on May 22
- $250 to Billings’ SelpHFund LLC for fundraising consulting
- $219 to the Helena UPS Store for postage
Now let’s get to some comparisons.
- $570 was spent on eating out 6 times. Compare this to the $1,291 Montana Dems spent eating out 26 times.
- $2,793 was spent on lodging in May (most of it in California), compared to the $568 spent to lodge Democrats in Atlanta.
- $656 was spent on State Fund Insurance by the GOP in May, though I didn’t catch any entries for this on the Democratic side.
- $5,229 was spent on payroll taxes to keep 5 people on staff in May. Compare that to the nearly $59,000 that was spent for payroll taxes by Democrats to keep 13 people on staff.
The Montana GOP uses Idaho’s ADP for payroll taxes while the Montana Democrats use Illinois’ Paychex.
Um…there’s no Montana companies that can do this stuff? C’mon!
The five people that the Montana GOP has on staff are:
- Tim Gould: $4,658.26
- Kevin Gardner: $3,787.64
- Conrad Tavarez: $2,770.50
- Levi Bloomer: $2,006.61
- Thom Root: $607.43
Tim Gould doesn’t get paid that much, it’s just that he had several reimbursements this month that I added in there.
In total, it cost $13,830 to keep those 5 people on staff.
Compare this to the $45,562 it takes to keep the 13 Democratic staffers on staff.
But that’s not quite accurate.
If we add in the payroll taxes as well we find that Dems are spending $104,350 to keep their staffers while the GOP is spending just $19,059.
That’s a difference of $85,000.
And what do MT Dems get for all that extra money?
Terrible ideas, like their recent New York hire’s idea to send Gianforte an orange prison jumpsuit.
Travis Mateer profiled this story today.
What’s interesting is that Conrad Tavarez actually lives in the District of Criminals, but still collects a paycheck from the MT GOP. He's from California.
Kevin Gardner is a Michigan native.
Mostly, I think you can see the problems quite clearly in the numbers.
Not only does the Montana GOP spend more money in state with in-state businesses than the Montana Democrats do, but they also keep their operation oiled and primed and ready to go.
Democrats, on the other hand, have a top-heavy machine full of incompetent staffers whose only real expertise is ensuring they continue to get paid come hell or high water.
And we see this reflected in the vote totals in Montana.
The state is red. The Republicans are winning. Democrats have no idea what to do about this.
What do I think Democrats will do?
Move forward full-steam ahead while ignoring any ‘critical’ voices that might crop up out there in the wilderness.
And I wish them luck with that strategy.
Updated: 5:30 PM
There have been a few comments since I put this post up this morning.
Yes, the healthcare bill making its way through Congress is shit.
Someone mentioned that Sue Malek here in Missoula is “crying and moaning” about healthcare, but doesn’t offer any alternatives.
Maybe she’s gearing up for a U.S. House run.
I’m ready to take just about any job that will offer healthcare. The worry over not having healthcare just isn’t worth it anymore.
Now it’s all about saving our crappy Obamacare program, which had so many problems it’s not worth getting into.
I’ve had a few emails about the orange jump suit prank. Some are saying that Loewenstein doesn’t know Montana, with many Dems around the state thinking this was just plain stupid.
He’ll be making about $1,000 a week for those kinds of moves.
In the ol’ email this week I’ve received two candidate questionnaires: one from Montana Conservation Voters (which I promptly deleted) and other from the Missoula Organization of Realtors (which I might fill out).
That last one is pretty short so that helps a lot.
I remember back in 2014 the Missoula Dems encouraged everyone not to fill out any endorsements…figuring they’d just be used against you.
As if these Missoula Dems have any real challengers anyways. That won’t stop folks like Bryce Bennett from raising a ton of money next year, however.
Logicosity has a post about those kinds of races today.
One of them is HD 91, which will be a shoe-in for Marilyn Marler, previously of Ward 6.
I’m glad she’ll go to Helena, sparing Missoulians her constant tax increases.
In Helena she’ll join about 40 or 45 other Democrats that talk a lot but fail to ever do much of anything.
In many way, the state benefits from this.
Here in Missoula we have one-party government, however, and that’s gotten us 95% tax increases over the past 12 years and $250 million of debt.
I think I’ll take a break from the doors until July or August, now that there’s no primary.
People are just sick of politics right now.