Champ 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.
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.
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.
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.
Viral Ads: The 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.
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.
In case anyone was wondering whether naive GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller was an independent thinker or just an extension of the tea people, we’ve recently seen confirmation that Jennifer Olsen, of Montana Shrugged infamy is the administrator of the Ken Miller for Governor Facebook page. In case some weren’t aware that Miller had given her the keys to his campaign page, she put all questions to rest in several Facebook comments:
In a race already so crowded, one has to question the thought process behind the near-perennial candidate’s move, especially considering the local tea peoples’ propensity for hypocrisy– and now THIS.
After the most recent-and so successful (where’s that sarcasm font?)- legislative session, led by the Tea people-backed Republicans, Gubernatorial candidates best be putting some distance between themselves and the tea people. After all, the legislature was only able to muster a 14% approval rating. From the looks of comments on the latest Gazette piece on the Tea people’s quest to attract city council candidates, tea people disapproval appears to be at an all-time high as well.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ken Miller’s Gubernatorial campaign, one of his biggest fans has created a series of videos. Here’s a taste.
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.