Well, people found out pretty quickly yesterday.
Around 7:30 in the morning she sent out a tweet announcing her 2020 gubernatorial bid on the Democratic ticket, the first Dem to announce.
I caught wind of it at 8, another blogger did an hour after that, but it wasn’t until a few minutes before noon that one of the state newspapers put up a story on it, and five more hours after that before the AP picked up on it.
Now let’s contrast that with today’s announcement.
Just after 5 AM today, Helena’s KTVH news station put up a story about Casey Schreiner running for governor, mentioning that he’s the “first prominent Dem to enter 2020 gov’s race.”
Kind of a slap in the face to Neill, there...but justified. She did a single term in the legislature, from 2013 to 2015. Schreiner also began in the legislature in 2013, but managed to keep getting elected, and serves there still, having reached House Minority Leader status.
We do know he won’t be serving in the legislature next session if he keeps running for governor, though he could switch before the March filing deadline.
So what we saw over the past 24 hours is the same thing we saw back in April.
On April 2, Tom Winter announced he’d be running for Congress.
Most were like...WTF?!?...as he doesn’t have a whole lot of elected experience.
Well sure enough, come April 5 we have Kathleen Williams come out to announce she’s running for Congress. Any thunder and excitement that Winter had developed over the course of that week’s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was completely wiped-out by Williams’ Friday announcement.
At least Winter had three days. Poor Reilly didn’t even have a full day to relish being the only candidate.
But we suspected this would happen. Once that first brave soul jumps into the cold lake, they all suddenly find their courage.
It’s just after 9 AM now and the Schreiner announcement is about the only thing they’re talking about on Twitter’s #mtpol today. Even blew all the Bullock-Iowa and anti-Gianforte talk out of the water...at least for a few hours.
By the end of the day yesterday I’d received a couple emails and a few tweets. Most were speculating on Reilly’s chances; a few were highlighting her record and past races.
“She was one of our worst local reps,” someone in Bozeman mentioned to me. “And lost to a charter schools lobbyist.”
Neill is relatively young. She’s 45, single, was born in Livingston, has a BA in geophysics from UM. When she ran for the legislature in 2012 she raised $9,000 to beat HD 62’s Dan Skattum by 335 votes.
Two years later she was unable to keep her seat, losing to Debra Lamm by 136 votes.
It was an off-year following Obama’s second election, and Neill actually received 537 fewer votes than she had the last time she ran. Running without coattails to hang onto always makes it tougher.
“What kind of joke is this Reilly Neill filing for governor?” someone asked via email last night. “I guess it shows how bad the bench is for the democrats. A one term no name person who couldn't beat right wing wacko Debra Lamm in a democrat district.”
Since her 2014 loss, Neill’s been sitting on the sidelines. She didn’t run against Lamm again in 2016 nor did she do so in 2018.
Casey Schreiner is another beast entirely.
This guy has won more than one election and he’s risen to a leadership role in his Party. I’ve been speculating for over a month now that he’d be running for something larger than the legislature.
He ran in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. For those first three races, we know he raised over $25,000.
He used his money wisely after the 2016 race, and still had $4,600 in the bank as he started his 2018 race. He raised about $8,000 more, according to his campaign finance reports on COPP.
Both Neill and Schreiner were raising comparable amounts in their legislative runs, though if you asked most people, they’d say Schreiner is the clear front-runner...for now.
Most suspect Mike Cooney will get into the race.
Here’s a guy who’s dad slapped an LBJ sticker on his side of the headboard while his mom slapped a Barry Goldwater sticker on her side.
I have no idea what Cooney raised to win his legislative seat back in 1976. He served until 1980, when he went to work for Baucus in D.C. full-time. He quit that gig to run for Secretary of State in 1988, a race he won. He’d win two more of them before stepping down in 2001.
Cooney ran for governor in 2000 and lost. In 2002 he ran for and won SD 26. He was reelected in 2006, though by that time the district had been changed to SD 40. That same year he became an administrator at Labor, and for a short time in 2010 he was the interim head of the Historical Society. It was in 2015 that Bullock pulled him from Labor to be the next Lieutenant Governor.
Everyone suspects that Cooney will run for governor next year, and with this week’s two announcements, it’s likely he’ll be forced to announce in a week or so himself...if that’s what he intends to do.
I think it is.
And I think others will still enter the Democratic gubernatorial field after that.
I don’t think any of them have a shot at winning against Fox or Gianforte, but they do have a good chance at building some name-recognition for future statewide runs. Democrats desperately need individuals that are brave enough to throw themselves into the fire for this, as the Dem bench is in bad shape right now.
I typically encourage people to take the City Council to Legislature to PSC to Statewide to Congressional route...but in trying times like these when there’s a dearth of candidates, you have to take what you can get.
Voters don’t have to.
They’ll have a clear choice in November 2020 between a Democrat and a Republican and - barring a serious health scare with Trump or the economy - I’m sure it’ll play out that way.
I’m not going to get excited about anyone running as a Democrat for anything, as I just don’t think they can beat the Republicans, either nationally or here in Montana.
I don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for anymore, but I’m pretty sure they’re not interested in helping me.
A lot of Americans feel the same way, and a majority of Montanans do.
I think we’ll see that play out quite clearly next June - when Republicans turn-out an incredibly higher number of voters for their primary than Democrats do for theirs - and in November, when that same trend continues.