ACA Misconceptions

By Montana Street Fighter, on July 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

The far right is starting to make noise about the “rising costs” of the ACA, more commonly referred to as “ObamaCare.”  Some liberal Democrats from states like New York have joined the chorus, as well.

Their complaints are somewhat misguided.  The ACA is, in part, a victim of its own success – especially when it comes to spending.

Many readers of this blog are advocates of a single-payer system, but the fact of the matter is that that is not what we got with the ACA.  The simplest goal of the ACA was to give millions of Americans access to healthcare insurance and the ACA did just that.

However, more access, also means more spending – of course.  People that have never had access to healthcare before are now able to spend on much needed healthcare procedures, check-ups, etc.

More healthcare spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing: people are finally getting the healthcare they need.

This means that the health insurance industry is now being forced to shift to a world where more Americans get healthcare and spend money to stay healthy – and, yes, that might mean an increase in premiums until we get medical costs under control.

The ACA has increased access and expanded coverage, but ratees will continue to rise until our Representatives and Senators take action to control underlying medical costs that have nothing to do with insurance companies.

One healthcare policy expert in New York got it just about right when she said, “maybe this is a wake-up call that we need to shift to making medical care affordable and not just available.”

When medical costs go down (not spending), premiums will follow, but don’t expect Washington to do anything anytime soon.

Veterans Speak Out Against Daines’ False Attacks

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

A group of veterans supporting Sen. John Walsh’s reelection campaign have called on Steve Daines to stop airing his new ad, which attacks Walsh on his military career, and which they say is misleading and dishonest. Daines continues to run false attacks against Sen. Walsh, despite unconvincingly thanking him for his military service during their debate last weekend.

Daines’ attack ads (big shocker here) are a pretty thinly-veiled attempt to distract from his record of consistently voting against measures to support military men and women. In fact just today, at the same time he launched this ad, Daines voted against funding for prevention of military sexual assault, and against funding to help soldiers with PTSD.

Congressman Daines can’t have it both ways. He makes false attacks on Senator Walsh, while himself voting to hurt Montanans that have served their country. Voters will see through that pretty quickly though.

#MTPOL Debate Debrief – Walsh, Lewis Come out on Top

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

 

Senate DebateHouse Debate

 

This past Saturday, Democrats’ and Republicans’ nominees for the U.S. Senate and House races, as well as both Libertarian candidates, squared off in the first debates of the general election. They were hosted by the Montana Newspaper Association and Montana PBS, before a packed auditorium at the Montana Tech campus in Butte.

Some folks say that the best a candidate can hope for in a debate is to not mess up, but this time, Lewis and Walsh very clearly stood out as the better candidates. While the debate sponsors and moderators did not officially declare winners, a number of online polls told a story of strong victories for both of the Democratic nominees, and lackluster performances by both Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke. Jackie Brown over at the Western Word conducted online surveys right after both debates, with 72% of respondents saying Lewis won the House debate and 76% saying Walsh won on the Senate side, and the Great Falls Tribune’s online debate poll had Walsh winning with 53% to Daines’ 24%. Here’s our brief analysis of each of the debates:

 

U.S. Senate Debate

Senator Walsh led off his debate win by using his first question as an opportunity to recognize that the debates were taking place on Flag Day, thanking those who have served in the military, and leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Throughout the debate, Walsh gave a strong performance, making Daines’ low-energy delivery look even worse. Walsh highlighted his leadership experience in the military, talked about accomplishments during his time as Lieutenant Governor, and his support for equal pay, among other issues.

Daines came across as very insincere, and didn’t do much to sound like anything other than a typical TEA Party politician (big surprise there). Sure, he pretended to be friendly, thanking Sen. Walsh for his military service, but it’s pretty hard to believe he means it when at the same time the Daines campaign is running ads criticizing Walsh’s time with the National Guard.

Libertarian Roger Roots was fairly energetic, and likely appealed to some in the far right wing of the Republican Party.

 

U.S.House Debate

On the House side, there was a bit of a social media frenzy that began before the debate, lasting throughout, and Ryan Zinke pretty clearly lost on that front. Before the debate even started, the #MTPOL Twitter hashtag (as well as the brand-new #ZinkeWaffle hashtag) was a frenzy of activity, filled examples of Zinke’s flip-flopping on issues, and pictures of an anti-Zinke display outside of the event venue, which highlighted Zinke’s tendency to frequently change his positions when it’s politically convenient:

Zinke Waffle

As for the debate itself, Zinke suffered from the same problem that Daines had in the Senate debate. He sounded insincere, and just spouted the same talking points he used throughout his primary. No doubt that’s because Zinke is worried about convincing the nearly 2/3 of Republican primary voters that didn’t support him, and will probably continue his run to the right just to shore up the support of his own party. At one point, Zinke talked openly about being beholden to oil companies.

John Lewis on the other hand, had a great delivery, and drew a clear contrast between himself and Zinke. He focused a lot on rural Montana issues, and talked about his strong support for programs like Medicare, while Zinke continued to express support for the Ryan Budget. The Western Word rated Lewis as the best debater of the day.

Libertarian and perennial Montana candidate Mike Fellows gave more or less the standard line, talking about doing away with a long list of government agencies and programs.

 

Both Democratic nominees outdid their opponents by a long shot, less than two weeks out from the primary, Montana voters are already getting a clear picture of the choices they’ll have in November.

 

Primary Recap: GOP Walks Away Bruised, Divided

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Yesterday’s primary election had a number of important takeaways and implications for the upcoming general. Here’s a quick rundown of what the results mean for November.

More than anything, last night’s results reenforced the same theme we’ve seen over and over again. Republicans are divided. In the GOP House primary, Zinke emerged with a narrow margin in what amounted to a very tight three way race. That’s after he spent nearly every dollar he’d raised so far, and was repeatedly attacked by former colleagues from the legislature and high-profile party leaders, who claimed that his ideas are not those of the Republican Party. He may have squeaked out the primary, but there is clearly a large segment of Republicans that don’t want to see Zinke in office. With that lack of enthusiasm, look for many Republicans to sit this one out to avoid voting for an unpalatable candidate, or even cross the party line in the Fall.

And the same goes for the senate race. While Congressman Daines won his contest by a very wide margin, those numbers should be looked at in the right perspective as well. Yes, he won handily, but nearly 20% of Republican primary voters chose Champ Edmunds or Susan Cundiff over him. That may not make for a close race, but it does say a bit about Daines and his party. Despite the fact that Daines has already spent huge sums on his campaign and on television ads to boost his image, nearly 1 in 5 Republicans still opted for one of his completely unknown opponents.

On the Democratic side, both Senator John Walsh and John Lewis won their matchups with large margins as well. The difference here being, that both of them were running against relatively well-known former elected officials, and still managed strong margins of victory. A blowout is easy when your opponents are no-names and you have a couple million dollars to spend on TV. It’s another story to win so decisively against candidates that voters know.

The moral of the story is that Republicans have still not changed their playbook one bit. They fracture, split, and attack each other, and can’t seem to agree on much of anything. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

 

Republican House Candidates are Broke

By Montana Street Fighter, on May 31, 2014 | 2 Comments

Republican House candidates are broke.  Last week, it was reported that the three frontrunners in the GOP Primary Election were almost out of money.  Despite raising over $1 million, Matt Rosendale only had $150,000 cash on hand; Corey Stapleton has raised over $600,000, but only had a tenth of that left on hand; and Ryan Zinke, who has also raised over $1 million, had just $150,000 left, as well.

However, Zinke, Rosendale, and Stapleton are even more broke we thought.  This morning The Bozeman Chronicle reported that Zinke has loaned his campaign just under $48,000 and Rosendale has given his campaign another $40,000.

What does this mean?  Neither Rosendale nor Zinke have any money on hand.  In order to make a TV buy, you have to pay up front.  These loans signal that both campaigns are staying up on TV or increasing their buys, but don’t have the campaign funds to pay for it.

What else can we learn from these significant loans?  The polls have Stapleton, Zinke, and Rosendale close.  All three candidates think they can win and all three are willing to pay to make it happen.

The one thing we do know it that whoever does emerge from the GOP Primary will be bruised and broke.

#MTAL Roundup: GOP Primary Getting Heated, Daines Backing Rosendale? Rehberg Backing Stapleton?

By Montana Street Fighter, on May 15, 2014 | 6 Comments

We’ve talked plenty here about the ongoing infighting in the Montana Republican Party, and the U.S. House primary is just the most recent in a seemingly endless list highly public feuds and political rivalries. We’ve seen the candidates attacking each other (or using their PACs to attack each other), and we’ve seen past opponents endorse candidates running against their former rivals. With less than a month to go before the June primary, the GOP race is getting even more heated.

Just this past week, a super PAC called Big Sky Freedom Fund began supporting Corey Stapleton’s candidacy. It formed very recently, and appears to be exclusively supporting Stapleton. The Billings Gazette reports that the group has spent $74,000 on television advocating for Stapleton’s campaign. The PAC lists the address of 47 North Communications, a company run by former Rehberg staffers. This raises the obvious question: Is Rehberg backing Stapleton’s campaign, and are his former staff doing his bidding by trying to influence the race for his old seat?

In addition to this, Stapleton has been endorsed by former governor Judy Martz. We’re not so sure that’s an endorsement anyone was in a hurry to receive, but apparently some Republicans think that her opinion may carry some weight. And on the subject of questionable endorsements, earlier in the year, Rick Hill publicly endorsed Elsie Arntzen in the race for the seat he once held.

Now this week, a lot of folks are speculating that Congressman Daines is backing Matt Rosendale. The two attended a high profile event together in Billings, seeming to signal that Rosendale is Daines’ guy.

The two Republicans were spotted greeting Veterans together as they returned from the last Montana Honor Flight for WWII Veterans.  A tipster also informs us that their respective staff were working had-in-hand and coordinating during the event, and Rosendale was spotted being very friendly with a group of Daines staffers.

 

Rosendale seen talking with Alee Lockman Daines' communications director, and Jessica Flint, Daines' Billings representative.

Rosendale seen talking with Alee Lockman Daines’ communications director, and Jessica Flint, Daines’ Billings representative.

Daines and Rosendale attend Honor Flight event together.

Daines and Rosendale attend Honor Flight event together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until now, Daines has been noticeably absent from the list of prominent Montana Republicans making public endorsements in this primary, but it seems as if Rosendale is his pick.

This may be the boost Rosendale’s campaign needed, but it does seem strange for Daines to get involved in a heated primary. Readers will remember that Senator Tester stayed miles away from the Democratic House primary of 2012. Then again, Daines and his advisors could be privy to private polling that tells a very different story than the perceived dead heat that many think this race is. And perhaps Daines is backing Rosendale since they have both been endorsed by the far-right TEA Party Express?

Really, the only major candidate in this race who doesn’t have the backing of a major figure in Montana Republican politics is Ryan Zinke. Sure, Conrad Burns gave him a less than enthusiastic endorsement, but he is checked out of Montana politics has nothing to lose by endorsing a toxic candidate at this point. Plus, the endorsement came as little surprise, since Burns at one point served on the board of Zinke’s Super PAC, the same one that is now supporting his congressional campaign while under scrutiny from the FEC.

Once a lot of people speculated that Zinke could be a frontrunner in this race, but now you won’t find many willing to argue that point. Not only have arguably the three biggest figures in Republican politics indicated in one way or another that they are backing one of Zinke’s opponents, but a number of these prominent Republicans are continuing to openly attack Zinke.

Just today, the Missoula Independent reported on major Republicans openly backing “anyone but Zinke” for the nomination.

The Independent wrote that, “… three former state GOP chairmen made the unprecedented move of issuing a joint press statement highlighting why they feel Zinke’s views “are not right for Montana.” The reasons ranged from perceptions of flip-flopping to Zinke’s close ties to the very super PAC spending heavy on his behalf.

“It was an accumulation of stuff,” says former state Sen. Ken Miller, who authored the statement alongside former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill and current state Sen. John Brenden. “Had there been just one issue, I wouldn’t have gone to this measure. But it’s an accumulation of issues and statements that piled up … Finally I said, ‘I’ve got to let people know what I know.’”

With the major players in the GOP all placing their bets on different candidates, the only thing that’s certain is that anything could happen come June.

 

Under Attack From Own Party, Zinke Breaks “Positive” Campaign Pledge

By Montana Street Fighter, on May 8, 2014 | 2 Comments

As we’ve told you before, Ryan Zinke has pledged over and over that he is running, and will continue to run, a “positive” campaign. We think it’s a pretty big stretch to say that having your personal Super PAC attack your enemies for you is positive, but for the sake of argument, let’s just pretend pretend for a moment that Zinke’s claim isn’t wildly misleading.

Sure, Zinke’s campaign proper has not yet run any ads attacking his opponents, because he has relied on the Super PAC that he founded to do that for him. But over the past few weeks, the tone of the race has changed drastically as Zinke has come under intense fire from members of his own party. A few days ago, we wrote about how Zinke, who has seen himself as a frontrunner, is clearly getting very  worried.

With the Republican Party beginning their traditional “circling of the wagons”, Zinke has found himself right in the middle as the bullets start to fly, and now he’s begun to panic. Forget going on the defensive against intra-party attacks, it looks like Zinke’s campaign is breaking their “positive” pledge, and tossing Reagan’s 11th Commandment out the window.

Today, in response to yet another letter-to-the-editor saying Zinke isn’t conservative enough, his campaign’s political director Randy Vogel threw caution to the wind engaged the author in the important and influential forum of political discourse that is the Billings Gazette comment section.

Vogel starts by bemoaning the negative attacks (we assume ironically) before launching into his own. First, he accuses Matt Rosendale of committing a felony by shooting down an unmanned aircraft in his infamous “drone ad” (no drone experts here, but we’re fairly certain that was a fake one, Randy). He then claims that Rosendale shows a disregard for firearm safety by shooting up at the sky. We’ll give him that one, but again, it seems that it was probably staged for the camera. He finishes off by calling all the other Republican candidates pigs, and again expressing disappointment that none of them maintain the positive, high-road approach that Zinke has apparently taken by violating federal election laws.

You can check out his comments below. The total lack of self-awareness required to write them is astounding. Of course Zinke and his campaign are still going to keep claiming a positive approach, while continuing to play dirtier than anyone else.

Vogel Rant 2

Shock (not really): SOFA Doing Zinke’s Dirty Work

Zinke on the defensive, relying on Super PAC

By Montana Street Fighter, on May 5, 2014 | 5 Comments

We told you so.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Ryan Zinke’s SOFA PAC began launching ads today supporting Zinke and attacking his opponents. Zinke has claimed over and over that he will run a positive campaign, which is easy to do when your super PAC can make attacks for you, and keep you from having to get your hands dirty.

Over the past couple weeks, Zinke has been hit over and over by people in his party for not being conservative enough. People like Rick Hill and Ken Miller have pointed to some of his voting records, like his relatively high rating (for a Republican) from groups like NARAL. Attacks on Zinke haven’t come only from the right: Intelligent Discontent yesterday released a great video outlining Zinke’s flip-flopping on abortion.

These attacks must be working, because they are being noticed by the press, and Zinke is now playing defense in a big way. Suddenly he has been taking every chance he gets to talk about how he is definitely, positively, absolutely, not pro-choice. Nevermind his pro-choice voting record in the legislature.

 

zinke prolifezinke trude

 

 

For a while now, Zinke has acted like he is the only candidate in the race, as if he were guaranteed to win in a landslide. It seems like he is rethinking his strategy of pretending he’s the only game in town. He is clearly worried about the attacks being lobbed his way, and is desperate to defend himself.

With Matt Rosendale putting half a million dollars of his own money into the race, and Corey Stapleton now being supported by an outside group as well, this race will be anything but predictable, and will certainly be close. And by acting like he’s already won, and declaring himself the frontrunner (regardless of actual facts), all Zinke has made himself a target for the other Republican house candidates to gang up on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Hill Attacks Zinke. Again.

By Montana Street Fighter, on April 28, 2014 | 8 Comments

It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between former congressman Rick Hill and house candidate Ryan Zinke. But today, Hill launched a full-on attack against Zinke on Facebook.

In the post, he targets Zinke’s voting record in the legislature and his ratings from a number of groups. Hill then goes on to claim that fellow 2012 gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller is also doubtful of Zinke’s conservative street cred. Hill writes that Zinke “campaigned aggressively for the job” of being Hill’s running mate by “claiming his strong support from liberal groups”.

While Hill says he is supportive of Elsie Arntzen, he also has mostly nice things to say about the other candidates: he concludes his takedown of Zinke by writing that “I am supporting Elsie’s candidacy. There are three strong conservatives to choose from. But Ryan is not one of them”.

 

hill zinke 2

 

Hill’s social media smackdown is not all though, it gets even better. In a comment below the post, yet another 2012 Republican gubernatorial candidate voices his opinion on Zinke. Bob Fanning wrote in the comment section that at a debate during the last election, Zinke threatened to fly a drone into his house, after Fanning asked him about his role in drone production and testing in Montana (given his obvious anti-drone leanings, it’s no wonder Fanning says he supports Matt Rosendale).

 

fanning2

 

We know Republican infighting can be brutal, but this is some of the worst yet. The primary is over a month away, and it’s only going to get worse before then. Ryan Zinke doesn’t seem to have many friends in his own party, and with his extreme stances, like supporting Paul Ryan’s budget, you can bet no one else wants him either.

 

Zinke Still Campaigning Outside Montana

By Montana Street Fighter, on April 25, 2014 | 6 Comments

We’ve reported before on Ryan Zinke’s extensive out-of-state fundraising, and constant campaign travel to California, Florida and other places that are not Montana. This week, to no one’s surprise, Zinke was again spending his time in California, rather than spending time with Montana voters.

Zinke was on CNN, live from Santa Barbara, California. As it turns out, Zinke also owns property there and sits on the board of a Santa Barbara-based oil and gas company.

Zinke on CNN

Who does Zinke think he is? Does he even live in Montana? Montanans do not want a representative in congress who spends all of his time in out of state with TEA Party groups, and having his corporate buddies throw fundraisers for him.