A couple weeks ago I told you that four people were running for PSC #4 out of the Missoula/Bitterroot region, but it turns out just two people are running...officially.
Unofficially, we have six.
These unofficial candidates have until March to file with SoS. Many are already raising money, however.
One is Republican Will Deschamps, and he started raising money the earliest. He’s raised about $3,500 so far and has spent around $1,800.
Erroll Galt, Russ Fagg, Bowen Greenwood, Tim Fox, Karli Hill, and Quentin Rhoades have all given him money.
Deschamps is relying on Burnt Timber Consulting out of Helena for his bookkeeping and compliance work. They get $200 a month. The largest expenditure besides that was $125 for some photo work.
Webb Brown, the former president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, is running as Republican. He stepped down from that position a year ago.
I don’t think he’s a real candidate. I think he decided to run, got cold feet, and now is not running. He filed last July, while Deschamps filed in June. I think the latter convinced the former to sit this one out.
Brown raised $2,330 so far for the primary and another $400 for the general. He’s spent all but $500 of that.
Well, that’s not accurate - he refunded nearly every donation he took in.
Jon Bennion was the only big name I saw donate to him.
Lawyer and lobbyist Ed Bartlett is Brown’s treasurer. Again, I don’t think this is a real campaign anymore.
Champ Edmunds is listed on the COPP site as a Republican out of Darby, but he hasn’t filed with SoS and hasn’t filed any campaign finance reports. I don’t think he’s a serious candidate.
Democrat Dan Carlino is also running, though he hasn’t filed with SoS yet.
Carlino’s raised about $5,500 and has spent around $2,700. Facebook ads and walking cards are where most of his money’s going.
Someone needs to file an official COPP campaign complaint against Carlino, as he failed to disclose the location of the company doing his printing, as well as every other company he gave money to this last reporting period.
I think we can chalk that mistake up to inexperience...and age.
The latter will be Carlino’s biggest hurdle to overcome. I mean, the guy looks like he’s 12-years-old.
Brett Rosenberg is the other Democrat in this race, and he has filed with SoS so is official.
He’s raised around $3,300 so far and has spent around $2,000.
Nick Schontz and Heather Harp and Danny Tenenbaum are the only names I notice that are giving him money.
Rosenberg is spending money with out-of-state firms for printing, which makes no sense to me. For instance, he got 200 candidate intro cards from a company in Rhode Island for $80.
Might have made better optics to pay $20 more and get that done in Missoula. That way you can help create jobs locally, not someplace 2,500 miles away.
Considering that Rosenberg moved here from D.C. in 2013, perhaps this isn’t so surprising.
Monica Tranel is our final Democrat running, and the most serious.
She’s raised $22,000 for the primary and another $3,000 for the general.
She has the Dem establishment’s support. Dick Barrett is giving to her, as is Gail Gutsche, John Heenan, Ellie Hill, Gwen Jones, Mike Kadas, Grant Kier, Sue Malek, Rex Renk, Marilyn Ryan, and Amber Sherrill.
She’s spending all of her money in Montana. Most is going to Helena’s Auxilyum Technologies for website and design work.
Clearly, this is the woman to beat if you’re a Dem running in the primary.
She’s quite the character. Was a rower in the ‘96 Olympics, worked for the PSC from 2001 to 2005, and then went to work for Conrad Burns in D.C. for several years.
She’s now a lawyer here in Missoula, hence the support of all the lawyers in her finance reports.
Whether he’ll be successful raising more money remains to be seen.
He did many years in the legislature and headed up the Montana GOP before. Besides that, his relatives - Dusty, Cathy, Robert, and Alfred - have all run before.
Last time Will ran for office was 2010. A decade ago. We’ll see if he’s become rusty. I doubt it.
As usual, the Democrats’ biggest problem is how unknown they are. At least for the last couple cycles we had the same Dem running for this race - Gail Gutsche. This year there won’t be even that modicum of name recognition.
Right now, Tranel is winning the money game and the support of the Missoula Dem establishment. The two men running don’t know this yet, but the race is already lost to them.
Of course, any and all of this could change at anytime.
Right now this is a very sleepy race, and it’ll remain that way.
We’ll see a lot of those large campaign signs in this race, but little else. PSC races are typically the most forgotten of the semi-statewide races (besides Supreme Court, perhaps). Well, with Tranel’s money there’s a good bet we’ll hear some radio ads.
And let’s not forget that the GOP has won this race for many cycles in a row.
- In 2016 they won 54% to 45%, or 9,000 votes.
- In 2012 they won 51% to 48%, or 2,500 votes.
True, both Bob Lake and Gail Gutsche were the candidates in both those years. (Gutsche raised about $40,000 for her '16 run).
This year we’ll have completely new candidates. And I don’t think it matters.
Voters will gravitate toward the Republican because this state is mostly Republican and more rural Republicans are voting in PSC District #4 than urban Democrats are.
Also, the Dems have lousy candidates; unknown candidates; candidates that aren’t exciting and probably won’t excite voters.
But mostly, Dems will focus on renewables and water compacts and global warming. The GOP will focus on the money in your pocket.
I wonder which message will work better.