Politics 2012: Closing Time

It’s just about closing time on Montana’s Primary Election season – with some votes still being counted!

This morning some candidates are waking up with nothing to do.  They are done – finished.  A few will never run in another political race again.  About all that is left for them is to make plans to attend their political party’s convention to show they are “team players.”  Other than that, their schedules are mostly clear.  It’s back to the real world for most of the losers from yesterday’s primary.

To them I say thanks for playing the game of politics – now be a sport and take down your signs.  Note: It mostly sucks to take down signs after a loss – all those volunteers (and most friends) seem to disappear (not being able to offer free pizza does that).

The winners get to move on for more fun and games!  This is actually where the rubber meets the road.  While you were one of maybe seven candidates in the primary, you are now carrying your political party’s banner for the office.  Your schedule just got a lot busier.  You may even find yourself moving toward the middle to gain more votes, which will tick off the base of your political party!

As if that was not enough, your opponent (and/or their political party or groups that support them) have already started an “opposition research” file on you – the digging has started to find something to damage you.  Will they find out about the DUI while you were on spring break 25 years ago or that you were arrested during that protest in 1984?  What about that crap your ex posted about you on Facebook?  Ouch…

I bet they find it.  It’s nothing personal – it’s just politics!

Listed below are some of the popular races coming up this November with which candidate I think has the edge today (June 6, 2012).  I also write about another race or two!  Enjoy the read and, as always, comments are welcome…

U.S. Senate:

It’s incumbent U.S. Senator Jon Tester versus current Congressman Denny Rehberg in the marquee matchup in Montana for 2012.  By the way, Libertarian candidates Dan Cox and Jerry McConnell are also on the ballot – which is very important.

Rehberg made it out of the U.S. Senate GOP primary getting about 75% of the vote.  About 32,500 GOP voters picked his opponent in the primary, Dan Teske, which should be of concern to Rehberg.

Edge:  Tester

Reason:  With two Libertarians running, Rehberg will lose votes.  Rehberg has a lot of baggage that will be publicized over the next few months – these two things might harm Rehberg enough that he loses a close race.  This race will be the nastiest (and most expensive) in Montana political history!  So far Rehberg has been running nothing but attack ads against Tester which I have heard is turning some folks against Rehberg.


An open seat is always interesting.  Democrat Steve Bullock easily won his primary (86%) and Republican Rick Hill won his seven-way primary with about 34% of the vote.

I wonder if Corey Stapleton called Rick Hill to concede…

Libertarian Ron Vandevender will be the third candidate in the General Election which will hurt Hill’s chances.

Edge:  Bullock

Reason:  Bullock is young and energetic and Hill represents the “old” GOP and will be 66 in December.  As his opponent Corey Stapleton pointed out, Hill has a lot of baggage and the Democrats will go after him.  This race will be nasty, but not Tester/Rehberg nasty.

U.S. House:

Democratic House candidate Rob Stutz wrote a few days ago, “Remember: money does not win elections, votes do.”  Stutz finished “out of the money” last night with about 3% of the vote.

Steve Daines is the GOP nominee (he also raised the most money) but he should be concerned that over 32,000 GOP voters picked the other two Republicans in the primary.  Daines will face off against Democrat Kim Gillan, who was also the top fundraiser for Democratic House candidates.  Libertarian candidate David Kaiser will also be in the race.

Edge:  Daines

Reason:  Money (which buys/rents name recognition, gas, food, office space, staffers, etc.).  Both Daines and Gillan do not excite voters – in fact I dozed off while typing this.  This will be a boring race.

Attorney General:

This morning Democrat Pam Bucy leads Jesse Laslovich by about 800 votes with about 97% of the votes in.  If this holds up, Bucy will face Republican Tim Fox who beat Jim (beer & tomato juice) Shockley by about 18,000 votes.

Fox sent me a statement after his victory, which in part said, “It’s time Montanans had an attorney general who will tackle our state’s challenges head-on.  Montanans deserve an Attorney General who will join the lawsuit against the job-killing, budget busting federal healthcare law, protect our individual freedoms, and make our kids’ safety a top priority by cracking down on sexual offenders.”

Edge:  Bucy

Reason:  If Bucy holds on to beat Laslovich, she will be known as someone who beat a pretty well-known person in Montana politics.  Beating Fox will be easier.  Third-party groups could sway the voters in this race…

Secretary of State:

Republican Brad Johnson whipped Scott Aspenlieder, Patty Lovaas, and Drew Turiano and will face off against incumbent Democrat Linda McCulloch and Libertarian Roger Roots.  Johnson lost a close contest to McCulloch in 2008 by 5,305 votes.  A Constitution Party candidate took 11,722 votes in 2008.

Edge:  McCulloch

Reason:  Johnson has managed to pick up some baggage (a DUI) since the last election that may turn some voters off.  McCulloch is well-liked and will be tough to beat as the incumbent, plus there’s a Libertarian on the ballot that will take votes from Johnson.

State House District 18:

In the battle to see who the “most pro-gun” candidate is, Republican incumbent Jesse O’Hara disposed of Randy Pinocci 57% to 42% in the primary.

I predicted O’Hara would “cream” Pinocci back on April 10.  That prediction is now fact – O’Hara won by 14%.

Supreme Court Justice #5:

This was an interesting race to watch throughout the night.  Early in the evening, Elizabeth Best jumped out to an early lead.  As of this morning, Best sits in third place behind Ed Sheehy and Laurie McKinnon (the top two face off in November).  Best trails McKinnon by about 3000 votes with about 97% of the vote counted.


Although votes are still being counted, here’s a look at which races received the most attention.  The top three for the GOP are:  President – almost 139,000.  Senate – 137,000.  Governor – 134,000.  The top Democratic race was U.S. House with about 80,000 votes cast.  In the Supreme Court Justice #5 race (nonpartisan), almost 195,200 votes were cast.

It’s a shame that voter turnout was so low (36.8%).


Several candidates and campaigns have included The Western Word on their media list – you should too!  Please feel free to send information to me at Western_Word@Yahoo.com

Election Coverage:

The media coverage of this Primary Election was poor.  I won’t name names but some folks should look for a different line of work.

Applause goes to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch for the “Election Center” website.  Although it seemed to bog down some, it was a great tool for keeping up with the results.

The Western Word (TWW) will be running some polls throughout the summer and into fall.  Stick with TWW for independent commentary about politics, sports, the media, and current events.  Follow me on Twitter @TheWesternWord.


One Comment

  1. PAM BUCY . .the other dem is a rank amateur in relationship to a grandstander that has ignored case only because they were not PR savvy . . . or worthy . . .which is a abuse of power and he should not only lose . . but be removed

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