No Confidence in the Champ-ion?


champ-edmundsChamp Edmunds, a relatively unknown Montana legislator (R-Missoula)  is reportedly announcing his run for vulnerable US Senator Max Baucus’s seat at 12:30 pm on Thursday, February 28. Just two days after his blast motion on HB 480, a bill to increase Montana’s incentives to attract movie and television businesses, failed due to a lack of support from Republicans, Edmunds apparently feels confident enough to launch his US Senate campaign.  A no-confidence vote from his own party isn’t a great message for Champ.

Earlier this month, Edmunds sent a letter to his supporters begging for soliciting donations.  In the message, he blasted “establishment Republicans”- presumably GOP opponent Corey Stapleton, former State Senate Minority Leader.   Apparently Champ is campaigning as the Ken Miller in this race, running to the right of Stapleton.  This is an effective strategy in Montana’s statewide races- to elect Democrats.  If Edmunds hasn’t noticed, there aren’t many Republicans holding elected state office in Montana outside of the legislature.

Edmunds’ “conservative across the board” rhetoric may rally the dwindling base of tea people, but moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats opposed to Max Baucus will likely be repelled.  I predict fundraising struggles in Champ’s future. Karl Rove won’t likely be throwing him cash.  From his Feb 8, 2013 letter:

You may have read that Karl Rove is trying to suppress grass roots conservatives in the next election cycle. But there’s good news! Here in Montana, we have a choice between a party establishment-backed candidate, and an authentic conservative.

While “authentic conservative” Edmunds isn’t likely to offer much competition to either six-term Democrat incumbent Max Baucus or to “party establishment-backed candidate” (what?) Corey Stapleton, his goofiness and tea-approved social views will surely add entertainment to the campaign.  A liberal blog already called him the “Craziest Candiate (so far) of the 2014 Election Cycle”.  Support from the embattled racist chairperson of the Yellowstone County GOP/Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Jennifer Olsen is likely.

 

GOP’s Fork in the Road (updated with statement from Corey Stapleton)


Today our following post appears on Montana Cowgirl as a guest analysis. Update:  Includes statement from Corey Stapleton following post.

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stapleton’s latest ad, by highlighting elderly opponent Rick Hill’s various policy failures, accuses him of having “too much baggage” to effectively govern Montana.  The direct “baggage” in question includes supporting a state sales tax, chairing a board that supports Obamacare, and receiving “sweetheart real estate deals”. Among the indirect baggage (displayed in the ad on various pieces of luggage) is Jack Abramoff (Hill received substantial campaign donations from Abramoff, a lobbyist convicted of bilking tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes), Ponzi Scheme (Hill fell victim to a Ponzi scheme and lost millions), Vietnam (Hill is allegedly a draft dodger) and Worker’s Comp (the program Hill claims to have reformed boasts the highest rates in the nation).   Not only has Rick Hill failed to deny any of these allegations, the Democrats conducted a fact check of the points made in Stapleton’s ad and determined it was factual.  Hill has consistently been absent from primary season’s conservative debates… perhaps to avoid answering tough questions.

What does Stapleton have to lose by “going negative” in this ad?  Unfortunately for Hill, sometimes the truth is negative and when one files to run for political office, ALL past actions are fair fodder. Stapleton was smart to focus on Hill’s various political inadequacies.  If he had instead created an ad to hit Hill personally by further exposing his extramarital affair with a Sip N’ Dip cocktail waitress, or Hill’s ex-wife publicly stating that Hill had abused her emotionally and had criticized her appearance and lack of education,  perhaps such a piece would qualify as an attack ad, and one taken right from Hill’s own playbook.

From High Country News:

“Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives. So Hill tried something. He went negative.  He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises. But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.”

Hill’s record is chock-full of relevant accomplishments, there is no need to attack him personally.   For instance,

  • Hill edged out 433 other competitors to win the dubious honor of runner-up in the Worst Boss in Congress contest, which took into consideration that Hill had once thrown a letter opener at an aide and screamed “I don’t eat deli” when a staffer brought him the wrong type of sandwich.
  • Hill’s infamous criticism of childless opponent Nancy Keenan- Keenan had no choice in the matter due to a hysterectomy, an experience she called “devastating”.
  • Hill’s abysmal voting record
  • Hill’s ties to Triad Management, Inc; a shadowy shell group accused of numerous campaign finance law violations. After Hill expressed to Triad a need for a third party to attack opponent Bill Yellowtail for “wife beating”, the management firm funded brutal campaign ad attacks on Yellowtail. Particularly hypocritical was Hill’s statement “I stood up for my kids, he left his.” considering Hill’s refusal to leave a seedy lounge after his wife discovered him carousing with his younger lover while his young children waited in the car.

Vilifying Hill by citing any of his aforementioned imperfections seems more like educating voters than attacking an opponent.  Montanans have a right to hear the good, bad and in this case, the ugly truth about our candidates.   Rick Hill represents the worst part of the Republican party- the lobbyist fourth branch of government and for decades has said one thing and done another–all the while profiting handsomely off the political system. When Rick Hill quit Congress, more Montanans viewed him unfavorably than favorably, Stapleton’s ad addressing Rick Hill’s “baggage” simply reminds them why.

UPDATE:  Corey Stapleton has released the following statement:

To all who are interested,We received some interest surrounding the different allegations in my
campaign’s latest ad “Baggage”, which highlights some of my opponent Rick
Hill’s public choices.  I hide behind no lawyers, no employees, no spokesmen
who can say whatever–and then recant the following day (as we just saw with
Brock Lowrance, Hill’s campaign manager, switching his narrative from “not
only false but entirely fabricated” to admitting Hill did own the Helena
properties referenced as “Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”.)And of course, Rick Hill has not made any statements denying the bags.  It’s
important to know, as governor, the contrast of my openness and Hill’s hiding
behind spokesmen and lawyers, is germane to the character and integrity issues
brought up in ‘Baggage’, and further underscores our argument of his
unelectability as Governor.  We think it’s important to have transparency and
openness in our political leaders.  I will be that kind of Governor.I strongly stand by the ‘bags’ in our ad:“Vietnam”:  Selective Service record enclosed.

“Obamacare”:  Actions, not words.  When you sit on a board of directors you
are accountable for the actions of the organization.  When a ship runs aground
the captain is accountable, regardless.  This is a big deal in leadership, and
I feel passionately about this bag because it displays Hill’s hypocrisy:  Blue
Cross Blue shield is one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of Obamacare.
They spent $9.7 million in 2009 alone, lobbying for Obamacare.  They currently
have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court—supporting the
‘individual mandate’ which is the backbone of Obamacare!  It is what it
is–Blue Cross/Blue Shield supported and is supporting Obamacare.  And Rick
Hill bragged on two occasions of “chairing a board of directors for one of
the largest insurance companies in America” at Republican Lincoln Reagan
dinners that I attended in 2011.  I took his statement at his word.  If it is
untrue that he chaired, but was rather a director, that is because we based
our statement on his.  And all directors of the Board are accountable to Blue
Cross’s actions.

I copy and paste right off Google (Mar 26, 2012):
legitgov
ShareThis
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mass. filed amicus brief in support of Obama’s
health-care law –In SCOTUS case, Obamacare has industry allies 26 Mar 2012
Lawyers from the health insurance and hospital industries have petitioned the
Supreme Court to save President Obama’s health-care law from a constitutional
challenge by 26 states and a small-business group, while other big-business
lobbies have stayed neutral. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed an
amicus brief with the court in support of Obama’s Department of Health & Human
Services. The insurer writes that it played a central role in crafting Mitt
Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law that served as the prototype of
Obamacare… On the question of constitutionality, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of
Massachusetts argues that the individual mandate is “a valid exercise of the
Commerce Power because Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in
the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care
substantially affects interstate commerce.”

My plea to Montana:  Do not be fooled by the entities or politicians who hide
their actions behind confusing words and legal mumbo jumbo.  Blue Cross is a
good company, but their corporate structure allows them scalability when it
suits their purpose and deniability when it doesn’t.  We need leaders to hold
both our corporations, unions AND our government accountable.

“Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”:  Rick Hill admitted on Aaron Flint’s “Voices
of Montana” radio show last year to a caller’s question regarding such real
estate.  Hill responded that he hadn’t had that property “since 2002 or 2003″.

“$400 million tax”:  Hill lobbied for passage of former Gov. Marc Racicot’s
sales tax proposal.

“Workers Comp”:  Hill routinely takes credit for his role in the 1990′s
workers comp overhaul…fastforward: Montana’s Workers Comp was routinely
panned as one of the worst in the country in the 2011 Legislature.  If you
want credit for the fix you get credit for the failure, too.

“Jack Abramoff”:  Congressman Hill received donations from Jack Abramoff.

“Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit”:  Rick Hill constantly touts his success in business on
the campaign trail.  He made millions of dollars in the insurance business,
but then lost those millions in the investment business.  Victim or Baggage?
You decide..because I can’t—Hill’s pre-emptive lawsuit, and his role in the
investment scam, won’t be determined until sometime after the Primary
election–when it would be too late for Republicans to act (should they
nominate Hill).  Montanans deserve to know why Hill filed a lawsuit several
months after filing for office.  See enclosure

“Lobbyist”:  Rick Hill was a registered lobbyist for the past decade, since he
left Congress.

All of the bags in “Rick Hill’s Baggage” are tied to public records.  While
“Baggage” might be tough on Hill, it is fair.

Sincerely,

Corey Stapleton
Candidate for Montana Governor

 Click on the links below for more information:

UPDATED: Honest Abe or Smarmy Swindler: Who is the Real Ken Miller?


A Pinocchio costume may be more appropriate

In the nick of time, about a week before absentee ballots are mailed, the Great Falls Tribune today broke shocking allegations of GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller‘s corrupt campaign finance practices. View the Office of Political Practices complaint here. According to the Tribune,

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller’s former chief fundraiser on Wednesday accused Miller’s campaign of misreporting funds, accepting campaign donations over the statutory contribution limits, accepting anonymous donations, and failing to disclose certain campaign expenditures.

Ken Miller’s utterly laughable response appeared in today’s Billings Gazette:

“We’re obviously viewed as a threat and seen as a front-runner,” Miller said in a telephone interview. “I think for the most part people will see through it.”

Miller, the tea people favorite, bills himself as the honest, Christian conservative.  In fact, his own campaign website humbly mentions,

 It has been whispered that Ken Miller is “too honest for politics”.   Ken Miller is guilty as charged.

In his latest campaign video, Susan Smith, wife of legislator Cary Smith and co-founder of the delightful group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” extols the many virtues of Mr. Miller.  According to Susan, who “knows Ken to be a humble, God-fearing man”, Miller believes in traditional family values and the sanctity of life.  She says “he is a man in whom we can trust”, that he believes in the Constitution and would uphold it.  One supporter mentions how she and her husband met Ken Miller at a parade in which he was donning an Abraham Lincoln costume.  All very interesting.  Watch the campaign video here.

According to Kelly Bishop, who served as his campaign finance director from January until April 14, when she resigned, she found at least $14,000 in campaign contributions that were not reported in Miller’s C-5.  Bishop said she left the position with the Miller campaign after seeing practices within the campaign that made her sick to her stomach. She claims that numerous anonymous donations and credit card transactions were not reported properly, that Miller accepted donations over Montana’s statutory limits and that Miller wasn’t reporting payroll taxes.  This directly affected Bishop’s pay as her salary was commission based on the total fundraising receipts she generated. Bishop said:

“I inquired about it in March, I brought it up to Ken and (his wife) Peggy at the time.  They said it was none of my business and I was not to worry about that part of the campaign.”

Naturally, Miller denies her allegations and throws Bishop under the bus states,

 “My family, campaign staff and I hold no ill will toward Mrs. Bishop, but are saddened by her decision to attack our campaign with frivolous, untruthful accusations. We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the (Commissioner) will agree.”

In response, Miller said, “We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the COPP (commissioner of political practices) will agree.”

“We kind of got blindsided. Unfortunately, she’s not being truthful.”

These allegations cast serious doubt not only on Miller’s integrity, but on his ability to govern our state.  Even if these discrepancies are proven to be unintentional, how on earth can we trust him as Governor of the state of Montana?  The Miller campaign is usually the first to lob nasty allegations at the other candidates and party insiders have long, borrowing Ken’s word, “whispered” that Miller mismanaged funds as State Chairman of the Republican Party.  Perhaps this is simply political karma.

These allegations will surely come as a disappointment to Miller’s base- the conservative, Christian, constitutional segment of Montanans.   In a crowded (7 way) Republican Gubernatorial campaign, this is likely the end for the Miller campaign.  For the family values conservatives, I would suggest donating to the Corey Stapleton campaign and for the mermaid/insurance/lobbyist/quitter lovers out there, Rick Hill.

Bishop’s sudden departure isn’t the only shake up within the Miller camp, his former campaign manager William Mutch’s tenure with the sinking ship was similarly brief. One can only imagine why Mr Mutch abruptly left the campaign, especially after stating on the campaign website that his entire career had culminated on that moment.  I tend to be especially critical of religious hypocrites, remember Harris Himes? I can only imagine how disheartened Miller’s supporters are right now.   I think it is time Ken Miller finds a new costume for parades, Honest Abe doesn’t seem fitting.  Might I suggest Pinocchio?

Yellowstone County GOP Chair’s Smear Machine Targets Innocent Candidate for Governor


“I am blessed with a great deal of energy, which I use to help our community elect Republicans.”- Jennifer Olsen.

But only SOME county Republicans apparently…. Jennifer Olsen, co-founder of Montana Shrugged Tea Party Patriots and current chairperson of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee has recently leveled baseless accusations against a rival GOP Gubernatorial campaign.  You may recall that only a few months ago, Ms Olsen was the administrator for the Ken Miller for Governor Facebook page, but it now appears that she has either abandoned the group of green-shirted morons in favor of the Neil Livingstone campaign or she was simply thrown overboard.  Now acting as Livingstone’s unofficial spokesperson on the Montana political blog rounds, commenting as “Drill Baby Drill”, she can be found typically lauding the many virtues of Mr Livingstone.  While I take no issue with her loyal support of her favored candidate, I am disappointed and frankly appalled that the leader of Yellowstone County’s Republican Central Committee has chosen the incredibly un-classy- and public- route of accusing a rival campaign of creating a depraved anti-war website featuring pornographic photos of Mr. Livingstone when literally ZERO evidence supports her claim. Check out her comments below, which were made on this Montana Cowgirl post.

Keep drilling, Ms Olsen. Perhaps you will eventually discover reality.

You may also recall this video clip featuring Ms Olsen.

I’m a Uniter, Not a Divider!

Ms. Olsen shockingly offers no evidence to reinforce her claims that the Stapleton for Montana Governor campaign was involved in any capacity in the creation of the pornographic anti-war website.  Stapleton, former Montana Senate Minority Leader raised more money than the other GOP candidates for Governor last quarter, while the other campaigns, including Livingstone’s, continued to struggle.  Perhaps the Montana Republican Party should ask whether it is in good taste for Central Committee leaders to smear rival GOP campaigns.  *On a side note, Olsen’s attack on the Stapleton campaign should be enough evidence for most Montanans to support his bid for Governor.  After all, he is obviously not enough Teatard to pass muster with the Queen of the Tea People.  I suggest making a donation immediately.

One is left to wonder why a world-renowned international security and counter terrorism expert (Mr. Livingstone) has not determined the source of the website.  Perhaps he designed it himself.  After all, it does depict him in a dominant and quite flattering manner. Also perplexing is that Mr Stapleton, a former naval officer, would be accused of making a site devoted to exposing war criminals.

Unfortunately for Ms. Olsen, Screwingamerica.com is actually registered to David Lambon.  Perhaps the guilty culprit is the dude in the photo below, who does vaguely resemble Mr.  Livingstone’s lucky lover in the pornographic cartoons.

His domain information is all available here…. In the future, I advise Ms Olsen to conduct even a minimum level of research before making such wild allegations.  Tin Foil Hat Warning: Perhaps she believes the Stapleton camp is in bed with Mr Lambon (not literally, we hope).  This isn’t likely either considering the site was created in 2008 and hasn’t been updated since 2010. All porn images on the site are of a homosexual nature.  It does appear that Ms Olsen intended only to throw some mud at Stapleton, hoping to slow the campaign’s momentum in an effort to assist her candidate.  Livingstone is a smart guy, I suspect he will quickly distance himself from the Olsen train wreck as Ken Miller did.

Thinking Republicans in Yellowstone County (I know there are some) would best question Ms. Olsen’s ability to lead the Republican Central Committee in the state’s most populous county in such an important election year.  All candidates should be highly uncomfortable with the chairperson of the county GOP inventing elaborate stories about candidates she opposes.  Hotly contested primaries are contentious enough without party leaders involving themselves in libelous claims.  Ms. Olsen should step down from her position and offer everyone involved a sincere apology.

Adios Assmann!


Essentially citing lackluster support, tax-loving prohibitionist Senator Jeff Essmann has decided to focus on electing Republicans rather than waste his coin losing the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial primary election. While I can hardly control my excitement, I must admit that some part of me  was looking forward to obtaining the inevitable and infinite fodder for critique at the Yellowstone Young Republicans Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for February 9 in Billings.  Anyone who has witnessed Jeff Essmann partake in an original soliloquy knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Considering that the questions asked in the debate will not be shared with the candidates prior, one can only imagine the panic Essmann must have been experiencing.

Judging from the comments on the Billings Gazette article announcing Essmann dropping from the race, this decision has elated many Montanans.

 

Although Essmann didn’t endorse another candidate, he implied that he will be supporting Rick Hill. Many are speculating that Essmann was forced from the race after the Hill campaign discovered a scandal.  The Senator mentioned that he plans to return campaign donations… I urge those of you who contributed to Essmann to donate those funds to the campaign of Corey Stapleton.  I look forward to seeing you all at the GOP Gubernatorial debate in Billings February 9, hosted by the Yellowstone Young Republicans.

I’d also like to see approximately five of the current (crowded) GOP field of 8, after Essmann’s departure; drop out to provide a clear contrast among the remaining candidates. The filing fee exceeds some of the entire campaign treasuries of candidates and any who are unable to raise enough cash to pay for the filing fee are likely not the over-achiever we need in Montana’s Capitol.

An Alternate Path to Defeat: Democrat Files for Montana GOP Governor


The Montana GOP is going to need a bigger tent to fit all of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor.  Yesterday, former state transportation director Jim Lynch announced his candidacy in the already very crowded field. Lynch, who lost a Senate race as a Democrat in 1994 and has been a member of Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer‘s  cabinet since 2005 insists he is actually a Republican.  In today’s Billings Gazette, he says

 “I’m probably like most Montanans,” he said. “Most of my views are Republican. I’m a Republican. I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president in my life.”

Although he claims he is running to “pave the way for economic development”, it appears he simply needs a job after Governor Schweitzer asked him to resign under very questionable circumstances.  The governor claimed the DOT’s  hiring of Lynch’s daughter potentially violated nepotism laws but rumors have circulated for some time that Lynch was also under investigation for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to buy an airplane, violating Montana’s constitution.  Shortly before Lynch resigned, a district judge also ruled that the DOT had violated the Montana Environmental Protection Act in approval of the mega-loads plan with an insufficient environmental assessment. Considering the hiring of his daughter took place four years ago, it does appear there may be more to the story.

Sorry Lynch, I don’t think you are like “most Montanans”.  In fact, you may have even more baggage than Rick Hill. Ironically, Lynch was rumored earlier this year to be pondering a Democratic run at Governor, but apparently further fracturing the Republican Party was a preferable path to defeat. Fourteen have filed for candidacy thus far:

Republicans:

–State Sen. Jeff Essmann, Billings. Essmann crafted the unpopular SB 423, which essentially forces medical marijuana patients to seek black market medicine.

–Bob Fanning, Pray. Fanning is an anti-wolf activist.

–Ex-U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, Helena. Ahead in fundraising, behind in morals.

–Neil Livingstone, Helena. Livingstone’s campaign is essentially broke, but he has the means to buy himself name recognition.

–Jim Lynch, Kalispell.

–Ex-Sen. Ken Miller, Laurel.  Ken Miller was sent by God to run for Governor….. again.  His campaign is rather peculiar.

–County Commissioner Jim O’Hara, Fort Benton.

–Ex-Sen.Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Billings.

–Drew Turiano, Helena, self-published sci-fi author

Democrats: Attorney General Steve Bullock, Helena, and State Sen. Larry Jent, Bozeman.

Independent: Robert Coate, Bozeman.

Libertarian: Ron Vandervender, Cascade.

No party disclosed yet: Ronald Lassle, Helena.

Is Lynch a Republican or a Democrat?  With his “grandiose sense of self-importance”, he perhaps suffers  from a cluster B personality disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Many afflicted have a shifting morality, they are always ready to shift values when necessary.

 

Eight Isn’t Enough: The Axis of EGO Plans a “MAJOR” Announcement


Jeff Essmann plans to make a “major announcement” later today.  Perhaps he would like to apologize to the medical marijuana patients and growers for creating health-endangering legislation that makes compliance nearly impossible.  More likely, however,  Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann (Billings, Prohibitionist/Tax Increase Party) is going to stop with the “exploratory committee” insantity and finally announce his run for Montana’s Governor tomorrow. Senator Essmann in a shocking move (not) has hired Dustin Frost, of 47 North Communications, to manage his campaign.  Frost, a former Rehberg staffer who received massive head injuries in a Flathead boat wreck a few years back; was recently quoted in the Flathead Beacon’s article “Schweitzer’s Successor“.

State Sen. Jeff Essmann from Billings is “actively considering” a run. And, according to the AP, he is being encouraged to get in the race by GOP consultants with close ties to Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg. Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s former state director and a partner in 47 North Communications, said Essmann would be a “heavyweight” if he runs.

“He’s being encouraged……… by consultants with close ties to Rehberg”, wow…. talk about a shameless name drop.  It sounds like Mr Frost was in reality only promoting his employer.  Should Montanans be influenced by the endorsement of a candidate’s employee- a paid campaign consultant? Not this Montanan.

The GOP ticket was already uncomfortably crowded, with already ample representation from Yellowstone County- Former State Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Former State Senator and previously unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller, and rising political star Keith Winkler…. perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration.  Other Republicans running include former US Congressman Rick Hill from Helena, Neil Livingstone, a terrorism expert based in DC (although his home is in Helena) and James O’Hara, a Chouteau County  Commissioner. Earlier today, Drew Turiano of Helena filed for the race as did Robert Fanning, a retired CEO now living in Pray.  Current AG Steve Bullock is expected to be the Democrat Party nominee, but is planning a contested primary with Larry Jent.  Ron Vandevender is running as a libertarian.

Thanks to Montana’s disenfranchised medical marijuana patients, Essmann attained the level of name recognition necessary to run for a statewide office when he authored SB423, to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.  In a field chock-full of conservatives, let’s differentiate Essmann from his peers.

  1. Taxes.  Essmann’s legislation provided many Montanans the sharpest tax increase in their lifetimes.  It was unexpected and during a recession.
  2. Personal Responsibility. When Essmann approached Governor Schweitzer to complain about the implications of the above legislation, the Governor said “Essmann complaining about his bill is like the architect that was warned by the engineer over and over again if you build it that way, it will fall down.”
  3. Family Values. With a penchant for liberal ladies (his wives are all lefties) Senator Essmann is childless.  Perhaps he has a puppy or something instead.
  4. Smaller Government. Essmann isn’t one to challenge the federal government. If the feds consider it illegal, he certainly won’t defend your right to use it.  Oh yeah, unless we are talking about guns, wolves, or Obamacare.   He forced massive taxes on property owners and rescinded the rights of tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients to access their medicine safely. I guess his ideology borders on hypocrisy.
  5. Liberty.  Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a clunky, oppressive prohibition bill.  It overturns a very popular citizens initiative and essentially sends the sickest people in our state to the dark alleys to obtain necessary medicine. Several primary components have already been ruled unconstitutional. An initiative by Patients for Reform, Not Repeal has officially qualified the law for the 2012 ballot to enable voters to decide its verdict, with a particularly incredible showing in Yellowstone County, even in Essmann’s own district.  Note:  Essmann refused to sign the petition.
  6. Support.  Although the rumor is “Essmann already has more money than the other candidates combined”, we know if that is the case, it is his own.  Montana’s campaign laws prevent candidates from raising money until officially filing candidacy with the state so the money, if there is any; is likely his own cash.  The lovely ladies from Safe Community, Safe Kids are no doubt on board and his biggest fan is rumored to be Tom Hauptman, an oil player who has contributed to Rick Hill in the past.

Being Governor has reportedly been Essmann’s lifelong dream but  Essmann as governor would be Montana’s nightmare. Good luck to Frost.  Creating excitement in a campaign is difficult with such a dull candidate (thus, this “major announcement”). Last session, thankfully Essmann provided us with plenty of campaign material.  Regardless of his wealth, I don’t think Essmann has any chance in this race.

Montana Governor 2012: Social Media Contrasts


4&20 blackbirds  recently posted “Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012…. or Your (sic) Doing it Wrong”. Although I disagreed with a few of the blogger’s liberal-leaning critiques, the bulk of the post was funny because it was so true.  The post suggests that successful use of social media includes the following:  engaging friends, eliminating staff posting (create your own posts), making posts personal yet using a filter(ask Weiner about this), utilizing creativity and wit (if available), and researching Montana’s candidates who have been successful in promoting themselves in today’s technological age (like Mike Miller and Ellie Hill) The blogger also discouraged candidates from following too many people and posting anything resembling something from the Facebook wall of James Knox.

Recent research has suggested that in predicting elections, social media presence is at least as important if not more than the amount of money raised by candidates. Now that the governor’s race in Montana has been elevated to Politico’s most competitive in the nation,  I decided to examine the use of social media by a few of the GOP’s Gubernatorial candidates. I’ve included promotional videos for each candidate, links to their social media accounts as well as an opinionated unbiased assessment of overall performance.

Rick Hill 

Viral ads: Hill’s campaign has been fraught with controversy thanks to a scandalous past brought to light by a concerned conservative friend of Ken Miller, prompting Mermaid-gate and our third most-viewed post of all time.   Hill’s Mr Rogers-esque promotional video betrays no signs of his wild side, so thank you to whoever was responsible for compiling the sleaze (yes, Nancy Davis, I’m talking to you), effectively making Mr UN seem just a little more electable/desirable than he likely is in reality.  I will leave the family values comments to the Miller camp.   Twitter: Hill has yet to master the art of the tweet and tends to primarily post links to his own campaign’s promotional posts, which is not a recommended course of action, especially because his promotional material is so uninteresting.  Facebook: Hill is off to a slow start, although this is his…. third start? His former Facebook group “A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill” peaked at well under a hundred folks and his handlers changed course a couple of times as a result.  Long-time lobbyist Hill earns an easy grade of Fail for his inability or unwillingness to engage his followers.  His posts are boring and receive very few, if any comments.  I can’t determine whether his posts are his own or from his staff, but let’s just hope they were written by staffers.  There would then be room for improvement.  Overall: Hill’s filter, if applicable; is far too fine to allow any effective engagement let alone posts that demonstrate any level of creativity or wit.  This campaign- even with the added excitement of the mermaid- is utterly soul-less. Verdict: Over the Hill.

Neil Livingstone:

I perused Livingstone’s website and was only able to find a number of national news interviews about terrorism and a dreadfully boring interview by Montana Shrugged so I decided it was in Mr Livingstone’s best interest that I not post a video at this time.  Should his campaign provide us with a promotional video, we’d be happy to post and assess it however. Twitter:  Neil’s tweets comprise an interesting combination of terrorism discussion, cooking/recipes, and political commentary- some of which even is relevant to Montana.  His filter appears to be working properly and his tweets are somewhat frequent.  His recipes offer a glimpse into his personal non-national-terrorism-expert life although many Montanans still may be unable to relate- Morel popcorn, anyone?  Facebook:  This account could use some work.  Livingstone should probably link his Facebook to his Twitter and blog to streamline posts among the outlets-  otherwise it appears that his Facebook account is more of a recipe repository than a Gubernatorial campaign page. I’d also suggest posting more links and statuses that relate specifically to our state. Livingstone’s personal wealth alone makes him a contender but he faces many obstacles in gaining name recognition beyond political junkies and terrorism buffs- if terrorism buffs actually exist, that is.  Nearly a year remains before primary elections in Montana.

Ken Miller:

Viral AdsThe only shocking- or even remotely energizing- component of Miller’s video is found within the youtube view counter-  there have been 1,217 views of this gouge-your-eyes-out-boring piece.  Miller’s overall presentation is dull as is the content.   Twitter: If the Miller campaign has a Twitter account, I’m not aware of it.  This is probably for the best as successful tweets require a level of spontaneity and authenticity that would be difficult for a fledgling Tweeter like Miller to pull off. Facebook: Staff/TEA people regularly post as Miller on his campaign site, as evidenced here.  He engages followers minimally and generally refers those who have questions or comments to his cell phone.  He seems to be doing a good job at physically traveling around Montana as evidenced by the plethora of photos posted from each location on the campaign trail but to me he seems a bit reluctant.  Miller’s supporters compensate for his lack of energy, however.  In fact, one of them sent out this ambitious campaign donation solicitation, complete with a conspiracy theory theme.  Overall: Before utilizing the above-mentioned filter, his campaign should instead employ the use of spell-check.  Considering his lengthy political history, I’m rather surprised by his selection of a rabid tea person as a campaign site administrator.  Engagement with voters is important, even when the issue at hand isn’t one Governor Jan Brewer supports- Miller failed to effectively respond to medical cannabis patients’ questions at a recent event at a gun shooting facility- his wife Peggy instead forcibly interfered with the video recording of his responses.  Miller has much to learn in the world of social media, but with God on his side, he should have no problems.

Corey Stapleton

Viral Ads: Stapleton’s piece is by far the best and I love that it isn’t bloated or ego-driven. This edgy promotional material is consistent with earlier photos released by his camp and it is apparent that he has employed a team of talented individuals to head up his marketing. This video was released last night, but already has over 100 views on youtube and more on Facebook. Twitter: Although Stapleton’s tweets are interesting-  like this one: “Gov Schweitzer wants to sell MT’s coal to China and solve their energy shortages. I want to sell MT’s coal to America, and solve our own.”, they are infrequent.  There is room for improvement here- more in numbers than content.  Facebook: Over 4000 people “like” his page compared to Hill’s paltry 345 and Miller’s 1017.  Little investigation is required to determine why he has 4 times the number of Facebook fans either-  his wall is a pleasant mix of thought-provoking questions and statements with a few personal touches here and there. Stapleton seems accessible and his friends appear engaged.  Stapleton isn’t afraid to make controversial statements and the ensuing debates with his friends are polite and rational.   Overall: Stapleton wins. He appears to handle his own social media (or he’d likely have far more tweets under his belt) and I thankfully wasn’t able to locate any post likely to be written by James Knox.  Friends are engaged, posts are witty, creative and a bit dangerous.

Rick Hill: A Lot of Baggage, Still NOT “A Lot of Folks”


While there still aren’t a “lot of folks for Rick Hill”, the 2012 hopeful republican gubernatorial candidate is at least aware that he needs some more folks.  Late last week, he sent out an email virtually begging for new followers, perhaps because nearly all of his devoted supporters (primarily lobbyists and insurance executives) already have maxed out their contributions to his campaign.  He expressed his intentions to have the most friends, Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc and vowed to show everyone how an online campaign is run.

Dear Friend:

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of our new web site at:

www.rickhillforgovernor.com

When I last ran for public office over ten years ago, the Internet was still fairly new, and the social media revolution was in its infancy.  But I’m excited to get to try new things with this campaign, and I’ve made it my goal to be on the cutting edge of technology this election cycle.  It is my goal to be the candidate all others are trying to catch up to in our online presence.  I want the most Facebook friends, the most Twitter followers, the most subscribers to my blog, and most importantly, I want to raise the most money online.

Over the weekend we launched a new web site, a new Facebook page, and a new Twitter feed.  I need your help to get the word out to start building our presence.

Please forward this email liberally.  Please go to your own Facebook networks and suggest they join me.  Please spread the word in every way you know how and let’s show Montana how an online campaign is run!

Join me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Subscribe to my RSS feed

Contribute to my campaign

I can’t thank you enough for your support,

Rick

Paid for by A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill, Republican

PO Box 1585

Helena, MT 59624

Note:  He has not been making any friends in the medical cannabis industry, in fact, he has mocked patients and caregivers at every opportunity in nearly all of his speeches at area Lincoln Reagan Dinners.


Well one thing is for sure, Hill isn’t short on arrogance, although the fact that he wears lifts in his shoes and generally travels with a stool (kind of like tiny Michele Bachmann) to create the illusion of height at his public appearances would lead some to believe he is indeed insecure.  Because of his desire to have the most friends, most Twitter followers, etc, he has recently been imitating opponent Corey Stapleton, posting photos very similar to his and copying his Facebook status update topics.   Stapleton must be doing something right though, he has more Facebook friends and more Twitter followers.  Stapleton’s posts are generally thought provoking and he often encourages friends to comment on controversial issues.  In contrast, each of Hill’s posts masquerade as news articles about … you guessed it, Mr. Hill himself.  In reality, however, the links lead visitors to his own campaign website.  As a result, one of the candidates seems REAL while the other one seems manufactured.  I will let readers be the judge.

Unfortunately for Hill, arrogance isn’t enough to be elected governor, especially after a sudden shady decade long “retirement” that included obtaining a faux online law degree (ironically while he was supposedly going blind, cyber braille perhaps?) and working as a lobbyist.  In addition to that, some “folks” may recall his public infidelity and subsequent divorce, temper tantrums that included hurling a letter opener at a congressional staffer, abysmal JBS Freedom Index scores, and reputation for tyrannical behavior.  Hill holds a slight lead over Stapleton, but the race is young.  Former US Congressman Hill suffers from low name recognition (all of the GOP candidates do, but Hill was the only one who held national office) as well as high negatives.   Obviously the liberals are having fun mocking Hill, today Cowgirl referred to him as the GOP’s crusty leading man but he has real trouble on the right as well. A lot of baggage, but not “a lot of folks”.

(we anticipate a prompt response from  Hill’s yes man operative, Chuck Denowh, to defend his honor)

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery


Rick Hill has a new campaign Facebook page.  You may remember, his initial group page “A lot of folks for Rick Hill“, didn’t attract many folks at all (it peaked at 78).  It appears that Mr. Hill has responded to bold branding pieces fresh from the Stapleton campaign in an attempt to compete, creating the new campaign page featuring a new Stapleton-esque photo.  Currently, Stapleton’s campaign Facebook page has around 1700 fans compared to Hill’s 31, Ken Miller’s 859, Livingstone’s 66 Twitter followers, and Jim O’Hara’s 70 Facebook fans.

Corey Stapleton released this photo weeks ago.

Hill’s version:

As a younger voter, Stapleton’s new photo definitely appeals to me- the bio is an eye-catching display portraying him as youthful, fresh and hip- a sharp contrast to the elderly (over the) Hill who has suffered from health problems for the last decade.

I’ve been criticized in the past for giving the numbers too much credit.   I do find it odd that we are expected to accept polling results yet supporters utilizing social media aren’t considered credible indicators.  I realize that calling a candidate out for copying his opponent is probably a little petty, but so is leaking a “rumor” to politico.com that an opponent was considering dropping out of the Gubernatorial race to run against fellow republican Steve Daines for US House when there has never been any evidence suggesting such.   In the past, Hill has gone dirty early, attacking his opponents in primary elections as well as generals.  This seems to be more of the same.  One would expect Hill to be polling higher at this point- after all, he was a 2 term US House Representative.

UPDATE

Thanks so much to Chuck Denowh, who mentioned that Rick has been using that photo since January. Apparently we just didn’t see it since his “A lot of folks for Rick Hill” group closed up shop after few folks showed any interest.  Didn’t see it on his website either, but I’m sure it was widely distributed.  Again, thanks Chuck!  Not going to post the retraction he requested however.

Bloviations by Governor Brian


Shovel-ready indeed. It is getting deep! Sen. Hamlett is right about one thing, BS is certainly a tool.

During Schweitzer‘s SOTS speech, liberal  media/bloggers/lobbyists hacks were tweeting the praises of our Governor to the point that I was tempted to ride out the rest of the event in a pair of thigh-high boots… it was really getting deep, but such tweets were unnecessary as nobody does a better job of praising Governor Schweitzer than the ego-centric proud governor himself. Governor Schweitzer,with his frenzied appearance, bloated body, shiny (slime or grease perhaps) happy face, and trusty bolo tie  looked like a statesman heart attack waiting to happen as he delivered his final lecture SOTS address to the Republican-controlled legislature last night.

Governor BS delivers Montana some more BS

 

Arrogant blowhard Never one to brag, Governor Schweitzer gave credit where credit was due- to himself.  Placing the focus on jobs- after poking fun at Republicans of course- Schweitzer touted mining and natural resources, agriculture, and our bright future.  Instead of being forthright in admitting  that his budget relies on raiding various pots of one-time money to squeak by the next two years, he chastised Republicans for always utilizing low revenue projections, telling them that if they chose to cut funding for public education, they would be doing it as a reflection of their values, not because of fiscal need, citing Montana’s “money in the bank”.   I find it ironic that he is punishing the fiscally responsible schools in eastern Montana by stealing taking their surpluses to fund education in western Montana.  If our economic forecast is so bright, why is this necessary?

Perhaps our next governor will need neither, Bob.

Now there is an idea....

I would like to remind Governor Schweitzer of his own words used early in his address: “Be careful of half-truths, you may just get the wrong half.”  Indeed, I feel very a little dirty after listening to his hour-long  brag-fest address.

Chuck Baldwin: Carpetbagger or Called by God?


Is Baldwin a political opportunist or was he called by God to move his family to Montana?

Montana newcomer Chuck Baldwin, the pastor who ran unsuccessfully for US President in 2008 on the Constitutional Party ticket, recently declared that the prospect of running for Governor of Montana is “so thrilling, I just get goose bumps.”  Baldwin said “There has to be a governor who is willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution.”  That brings up an interesting point actually. Baldwin would enter an already crowded  race, joining Corey Stapleton, Ken Miller, Rick Hill, and Jim O’Hara on the GOP ticket, Dave Wanzenreid for the Democrat party, and Ron Vandevender who is running as a libertarian.  Baldwin has been critical of the both the Republican and Democrat parties, calling them “two peas in the same pod” so I assume he’d be running as a Constitutional party candidate.  As far as I know, however; the only candidate in the race thus far who was actually “willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution” was Corey Stapleton, who spent more than a decade in the US Navy.  Perhaps the statement was an endorsement.   After receiving a direct message from God, Baldwin moved nearly 20 family members to the Flathead valley last summer.  Declaring Montana the “tip of the spear” in the freedom fight, Baldwin abandoned his Pensacola, FL  flock  in favor of the more freedom-minded Montana folk. While I’m sure Chuck Baldwin is a fine man, I have yet to see that he is capable of running an organization or city let alone running one of the largest states in the union.  I often do agree with Baldwin, but I don’t think  Montana is ready to elect a 9/11 truther who believes that a breakup of the US is inevitable, regularly appears with conspiracy wackjob Alex Jones, and preaches about new world order and FEMA death camps. Baldwin said:

So, living or dying, we intend to circle the wagons around the State of Montana and fight to our dying breath for the right of that State to live free!

Last I checked, Montana wasn’t at war.  Baldwin’s rhetoric is passionate and dramatic, but lacks specificity. I’m not denying the possibility of a calling from God, but many may doubt his claim- Montanans are skeptical of outsiders.  I’m happy he and his family moved to Montana and that they are freedom-loving Christian patriots- his influence could strengthen conservatism in Montana. If however, he runs for governor after so briefly residing in our state, suspicion will override all respect I have for his ideals and I will view him as a political opportunist who thought Montana’s voters were prime for picking.  In addition to that, it may guarantee a Democrat governor.

Not a Lot of “Folks for Rick Hill”


Rick Hill Fails to Rally the Base

Peaking at 78 folks, Rick Hill’s campaign Facebook group “A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill” has apparently folded only seven weeks after his announcement to run for Montana Governor in 2012, possibly due to a lack of folks. Lackluster support is proving to be a problem for the candidate who refers to himself as a “fixer” and “member of the Tea party before it even existed”.  Younger conservatives are distancing themselves from Hill at a rapid pace.

A closed group with the same name, created a month ago by Beth Yount Ries, remains.   She added another 24 people to the group, but only a handful of them are current members.  Notably absent are former members Rick Hill and GOP candidate for US Senate Steve Daines.

In stark contrast, campaigns for Hill’s GOP opponents feature strong and passionate support. Ken Miller’s Facebook group, Ken Miller for Governor ,  has hundreds of people “liking” it.  The group was created last summer.  Corey Stapleton‘s Facebook group, Corey Stapleton for Montana’s Governor 2012, was created most recently-after Rick Hill’s- and has a couple hundred fans.

Rumors are plaguing the Rick Hill campaign, ranging from infidelity to scandals of Conrad Burns proportions and some hope he drops out of the campaign to avoid embarrassing reluctant  supporters.   Hill, a long-time lobbyist,  has also faced criticism from  Tea party leaders and members who don’t consider him conservative enough and don’t appreciate his comments implying he was endorsed by them.  Mark French,  former GOP candidate for Montana’s US House Representative harshly criticized Hill’s voting record on the blog PolyMontana.

Prior to Hill’s announcement, he confided in friends that many Democrats had encouraged him  to run for Governor because he was more moderate than the other candidates.  Democrat Dave Wanzenreid of Missoula apparently believes Hill isn’t moderate enough as he also recently filed to run for the position.  Term limits prevent current Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer from running for reelection.

Montana GOP Candidates Pick Up Early Endorsements


Gun Owners of America announced this week they are endorsing Steve Daines, a Republican who recently announced his bid to unseat US Senator Jon Tester from Montana.

GOA endorses Steve Daines for US Senate

“In this race for United States Senate, we’ve found a pro-Second Amendment candidate with real leadership skills in Steve Daines,” said GOA’s Vice-Chairman Tim Macy.

Steve understands that protecting the Second Amendment is not just about gun control—it’s about control.  Elitists in Washington want to control our economy, control our ability to protect ourselves and our families and, in effect, control every aspect of the lives of Americans.”

"I'm a Republican for Rick Hill" says AJ Otjen

Gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill picked up an endorsement from liberal Republican Agnes Otjen this week. “AJ” Otjen ran unsuccessfully (as a self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”) for Montana’s GOP nomination for congress earlier this year, gathering just 6% of the June primary vote. Otjen may be best remembered for her 2008 vote for Democrat Barack Obama.   She agreed that this was the very same reason she voted for Barack Obama, who ironically enough has been described recently as “too far left” by European leaders.  Hill has told friends that several Democrats have been encouraging him to run for Governor in 2012, because he “would be the moderate in the field”, although Hill’s more recent statements have attempted to court conservatives. About Hill, Otjen said “I believe Rick will build a broad coalition and focus on the things with which we can all agree.” Hill has joined former state senators Ken Miller of Laurel and Corey Stapleton of Billings in what is expected to be a crowded field for the open seat. Democrat Brian Schweitzer is barred from running again due to term limits.