A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

7 March 2017

Montana Republicans nominate Gianforte for U.S. House
Democrats again sling “New Jersey politician” hogwash


Brace yourself for a short, brutish, campaign.

Back in November, Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte lost to Gov. Steve Bullock by a small but convincing margin. After dinner yesterday, his party forgave that loss, overwhelmingly nominating him on the first ballot to run against Democrat Rob Quist for the U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke.

In his victory speech, Holly Michels reported, Gianforte campaigned against Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as Quist, employing what had to be focus group tested lines:

“We don’t need to send Nancy Pelosi a court musician who wants to socialize medicine,” Gianforte said. He also called Quist an “out-of-touch liberal who wants to create a national gun registry.”

Treating music as an occupation unfit for political leadership is a surprising hypocrisy for Republicans, who, with great enthusiasm, in 1964 elected a song-and-dance man with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as California’s U.S. Senator. It’s certainly an insult to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the legendary pianist and former Prime Minister of Poland. And it’s not in keeping with Gianforte’s reputation as a man who enjoys that Old Time Religion.

At KXLH TV, Mike Dennison reported:

Gianforte made clear that, if elected, he intends to be a supporter of President Donald Trump.

“This race is ground zero in liberals’ attempts to stop the Trump Train, and I won’t allow that to happen,” he said.

Gianforte vowed to support stronger enforcement against illegal immigration, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, more state and local control over public lands.

He’s telling the truth about his support for Trump, but if he supports Trump, he can’t support telling the truth.

If elected, Gianforte probably will join the House’s Freedom Caucus that makes Speaker Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand loving radical who hates the poor, appear to have a heart warmer than Elizabeth Warren’s.

Democrats jump off the truth train

A few minutes after Gianforte’s nomination was announced, the Montana Democratic Party blasted out a press release headlined “Montana Republicans pick New Jersey politician as nominee — again.” As I’ve observed before, the MDP’s Jersey Gianforte theme is a whopper that would make Donald Trump proud.

Some Democrats admit the New Jersey appellation is untruthful, and deliberately so, but defend it as justified because winning justifies any means, and, with post hoc, ergo propter hoc, logic, assert that it worked for Steve Bullock. For these Democrats, bearing false witness is not a sin, and telling the truth is not a moral obligation: lying and truth telling are simply political tactics, and candidates who take the high road are losers. It’s also an tacit admission they believe that the values and public policy proposals of their party are neither strong nor popular enough to win elections without an assist from skullduggery.

I wish I could say these Democrats learned the wrong lesson from Trump’s victory, but the MDP’s practice of making questionable assertions about Republican candidates dates at least as far back as the 2006 campaign, during which the party insinuated that Sen. Conrad Burns was in cahoots with crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Will Quist run a median voter campaign?

A median voter campaign assumes that Montana leans Republican; therefore, winning required appealing to enough Republican voters to secure a plurality. In this approach, Democrats are considered a given, and the campaign’s message is aimed not at Democrats but at the median voters; at the independents and weak Republicans.

Although self-identified independents number close to one third of the electorate, most are closet partisans. True independents comprise approximately one-tenth of the electorate, and often are low information voters.

If Quist starts trimming his sales, if he starts railing against the national debt, and starts sounding like a budget scold, you’ll know he’s running a median voter campaign.

But another approach provides a better chance of winning:

Democrat Jason Kander delivered a well-received message to a room full of party faithful: He almost won a Senate race in Republican Missouri because he didn’t shy away from being a liberal.

“In a red state that President Trump carried by 19 points, I came within 3 points of turning the Senate seat blue,” Kander said at a recent meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta. “And by the way, I didn’t do it by pretending to be a moderate Republican or hugging the middle.”

He’s right. Democrats who preach the party’s old time religion can win. In Montana, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House, many running median voter, Republican Lite, campaigns, have lost 11 straight elections. It’s time to run as proud Democrats on a solid platform of genuine liberal planks.