This happens every year.
Here’s what I wrote following the bloodbath in the 2016 primary:
“For the most part, that message is that the Montana Democratic Party is not working hard enough for common workers, struggling property taxpayers, and anyone else that’s feeling left out.
My God, what a failure the Dem message is!
Montana Democrats are set to lose every single statewide office in November, it's so obvious.
Instead of figuring out what to do about this, or why the current strategy isn’t working, I feel Montana Democrats will continue down the same tired path.
That’s more private fundraisers at rich people’s houses and more out of state fundraising from PACs.
I’m sorry, but if that strategy worked then why did Matt Rosendale – who has about $100,000 less in his campaign bank account – get 29,000 more votes than Jesse Laslovich?”
And here’s what I wrote a few months later when Dems did terribly in November 2016:
“Their loyalty is simple – money.
Money didn’t quite do it for Hillary.
It’s time Democrats look at their strategy of raising tons of dark money and Wall Street money.
It didn’t work.
Like I’ve said, however, I fully expect they’ll continue to embrace that strategy.
They don’t know what else to do.
I mean, it’s not like they’ll embrace majorities in this country, they’ll just cling to their minorities.
And they’ll lose.
It’s just a sad, sad Party.”
Four years later, and nothing has changed...nor will it change. Montana Democrats are set in their ways.
Despite that, they think they can do better. That’ll be fun to watch!
You see, many Dems are actually surprised at the outcome this week. At the Dem mouthpiece blog, Don had this to say:
“It was a bloodbath, and I’m not sure anyone saw it coming…”
I think this statement says a lot about what the main problem with the Dems is - they don’t listen to anyone outside of their buble.
This bubble has been self-created by Montana Democrats, primarily on social media like Facebook and Twitter. We also see it in the news outlets they visit, and the ones they don’t.
I’ve been saying for months that Republicans are going to win big this year, and they did. But Democrats don’t want to hear that, so when someone says it, they drown that person out and call them names and ultimately ignore them.
And we see what that gets them.
Over at MT Post, Don spends hundreds of words lambasting Trump voters...and just a single paragraph questioning the messaging of the Dem Party.
Because the problems are much larger and go much deeper than that. The best thing for the GOP is to let the Dems think it just is the messaging.
And it sounds that’s exactly what Dems will do. Listen to Don:
“I think this may be a moment of opportunity for Montana Democrats. After sixteen years of understandably playing defense on so many issues, it’s time to sit down over the next few months and develop an agenda for change, for new policies and new ideas.”
I put that last bit in bold, because this is the plan going forward for the Dems. Doesn’t sound like much of a plan, does it?
Well, what do you expect?
Who are the leaders of the Montana Dems right now? It’s certainly not Bullock - his time in Montana politics is now over.
Tester? He seems to be the top dog at this point, but he’s so old and so fat and so afraid of covid that he can never effectively campaign again. I think he’ll be easy to pick-off in 2024...if he even runs that year...and if he even lives that long.
Sandi Luckey, the former union boss that got tapped to lead the Dems after Nancy Keenan finally stepped down?
After Tuesday’s results, I don’t think Luckey controls anything and I don’t think she knows what she’s doing. Sure gets paid like a winner though, doesn’t she? A whopping $4,500 a month...to lose.
And how about Trent Bolger and Nick Lockridge, who make $5,039 and $3,922 a month, respectively. They've been ensconsed at Dem HQ for years.
What value do these two men have for Montana Democratic voters? I mean...if none of the Dems on the ballot can win...why even have you on staff?
What do you do?
I’m sorry, but Montana politics changed forever on Tuesday.
It’s the money.
It’s no longer effective.
Just look at the Senate race. Over $120 million was poured into the state in support of either Daines or Bullock, or $184 for every one of the state’s 729,000 voters. And those numbers are a month old.
Lot of good that money did Bullock. He personally raised $42 million to the $27 million that Daines raised, and what did that get him? A loss of 8 points.
Money isn’t effective.
- Do you actually think spending millions of dollars to print and mail me dozens of junk mailers is going to change my mind?
- Do you think having a robot call me on the phone is going to change my mind?
- Do you think running Facebook ads that I don’t even see is going to change my mind?
- Do you think hiring some door knocker from Seattle to knock on my door and tell me who to vote for is going to change my mind?
- Do you think hiring some east coast outfit to produce 30-second TV spots for millions of dollars is going to change my mind?
It’s not, and it didn’t.
Over a hundred million was wasted on the Senate race, and none of it changed a single mind. Most people knew who they were going to vote for before 2020 even started.
And it’s not just the federal races.
In the final months of the campaign, Melissa Romano raised $343,000 to Arntzen’s $100,000. Bryce Bennett raised $314,000 to Jacobsen’s $33,000. Monica Tranel raised $120,000 to Jennifer Fielder’s $24,000.
Dems had a lot more money, and it didn’t help them at all.
But you know what Dems are going to do going into the 2022 cycle? They’ll raise a shit-ton of money, thinking if they just follow the same, tired old formula they’ll get different results.
I know, you can’t fix stupid.
Montana Democrats have been fixated on money for years, to their own detriment.
Now, I’m not saying money isn’t important...but it certainly isn’t everything.
And what are Democrats raising money for? It certainly isn’t to help out legislative candidates. Dems will have their worst showing in the legislature for years. The GOP has a typically veto-proof majority (even though there will be no vetos).
The Montana Dem HQ in Helena raises tens of thousands of dollars each month, but none of that money finds it into any kind of legislative races.
Most of it is used to pamper the staff at Dem HQ.
When I last looked at the MT Dem Party's finances in June, they'd taken in $80,000 for the month but had spent $92,000. They had 23 people pulling down a paycheck ahead of the primary, and while I'm sure campaign workers are needed, do we need the top dogs that keep making bank?
For years the Dems have paid those people huge sums...and for what - every statewide race lost? The sad thing is that Dems at HQ have to raise about $100,000 a month just to keep themselves on staff. There is no money leftover after their ‘needs’ are met.
And what’s with the ringers? Earlier this year the MT Dems brought in Matt Fidel to work as their deputy communications director. He came from New Jersey, where he’d worked for Corey Booker.
What the hell does this guy know about Montana?
Sadly, Dems in Montana have been bringing in ringers for years. And for years they've been losing. Any connection there?
And how about those Dems bitching on MT Post about messaging? People like Fidel are a big reason this is an issue.
Do you honestly think brining in some newbie from out-of-state is actually going to endear you to Montana voters? Um...how, exactly?
It’s things like these - the high pay, the out-of-state ringers, the money not making it the actual candidates - that point to clear, systemic, and years-long problems with the Montana Democratic Party infrastructure in the state.
Will anything change?
No, nothing will change.
The people in Dem HQ win whether their candidates win or lose. They make thousands of dollars a month to sit their asses in fancy chairs in their mansion, and they have for years. And for years, Montana Dem candidates have lost.
I’ll close out by mentioning that Missoula isn’t as blue as it thinks.
On Tuesday Dems lost HD 96 here in the Garden City. Whitman beat Conley to take Tom Winter’s old seat, 51% to 49% (191 votes). Tschida retained HD 97 and Mike Hopkins kept HD 92. I’m surprised how close HD 94 was, with the GOP coming within about 500 votes of that one.
Tom Winter’s ego wouldn’t have him sit by idly in the GOP-controlled legislature, so he tried to run for Congress and lost. Now HD 96 is gone to the Dems for another cycle.
The Dems that ran statewide this year were relatively unknown. The few that had any name recognition had it only because they’d run and lost before (Romano) or had been in the legislature for years (Bennett).
Now what are the Dems going to do? Who are they going to run now? Who is sitting there on the bench, ready and rearin’ to go?
Don is exactly right that this would be a great time to come up with some new ideas and some new ways of doing things.
Sadly for Dem voters in this state, that just isn’t going to happen.
I mean, look at what I wrote in '16. I'm pretty much writing the same thing today. Why? Because the Democats haven't learned a damn thing.
They don't want to.