Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand. – Colin Powell
It was a great day on Saturday as The Western Word travel budget allowed me the opportunity to attend the candidate debate between Democrats U.S. Sen. John Walsh, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, and rancher Dirk Adams. The debate was held at the Benefis Hospital’s Cameron Auditorium, which is about four blocks from The Western Word world headquarters.
I counted around 100 people in the auditorium. The debate lasted a little over 90 minutes. Somebody brought cookies, which was a nice touch. People were friendly. The debate was sponsored by the Great Falls Tribune and Benefis Health System.
There were 10 questions asked (one of them was mine) dealing with issues from Obamacare to defense to the environment to gun control to politics. Ironically, nobody asked what the word “Benefis” means. Each candidate was able to give opening and closing remarks.
Congratulations to the Great Falls (MT) Tribune for hosting a candidate debate between the Democrats running for U.S. Senate. Senator John Walsh, former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, and rancher Dirk Adams have agreed to participate. I applaud them for taking part in the debate.
The debate is scheduled for Saturday May 3 at the Benefis East Campus Cameron Auditorium. It starts at 1:00 p.m.
On the other side of the aisle, it’s disappointing that two of the three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate either did not respond to the invitation or declined. Missoula state Rep. Champ Edmunds agreed to participate. The Tribune reported that Congressman Steve Daines “declined to participate” and newcomer Susan Cundiff “did not respond” to an invitation.
It was good to see that the Tribune allowed Edmunds a chance to respond to Daines’ declining to debate him. Edmunds said:
I think it was President Harry Truman who once said, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” The same thing could be said for 2014 party politics here in Montana.
Great Falls Tribune Capital Bureau reporter John S. Adams wrote a story for Tuesday’s paper with the headline, “Democratic Party breaks from tradition by backing a candidate in the U.S. Senate primary race.”
It was really not a surprise to me that the Montana Democrats backed John Walsh – he was about the only big name Democrat who did not turn down the chance to run. Besides, most people believe that after everyone else declined, the wheels were set in motion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama, to get rid of Max Baucus and give John Walsh at least a fighting chance against probable Republican nominee Steve Daines. This was done by having Baucus step down to be an Ambassador to whatever country needed one at the time, and for Governor Steve Bullock to select Walsh to fill the remainder of Baucus’ term. Democrats are under great pressure to keep control of the U.S. Senate.
But former Republican now Democrat John Bohlinger would not go down without a fight. He went ahead and filed as a Democrat for U.S. Senate. He recently took the gloves off in an opinion piece writing that, after he refused to step aside, “it has been a long, cold winter in politics, in which I learned the dark side of power and money in politics.”
It was fun to monitor the Montana Secretary of State’s website off and on yesterday to see who was running for office. Big thanks to all who are running for office and best of luck on June 3.
The primary field is basically set, although candidates filing for Independent or Minor Party candidates closes June 2. That’s after the candidate has obtained enough signatures on a petition to run for that office, which is absurd and should be changed. You can also run as a write-in candidate, but there are several hoops to jump through for that, too. You can find information for both methods HERE.
There were a few surprises. You can check out the candidate lists HERE. Here are my thoughts and observations (so far):
Former Republican Lt. Governor John Bohlinger is making this campaign season interesting. For those not acquainted with Bohlinger he was a Republican and Democrat Brian Schweitzer picked him as his running mate. Together they served two terms as Governor and Lt. Governor of Montana.
Schweitzer was enemy number one of the Montana Republicans for several years. Bohlinger was pretty much exiled from the Republican Party for siding with the enemy. The Montana GOP even refused to sell him tickets to attend the Montana GOP’s annual convention back in 2007.
In Republican terms, Bohlinger was a classic RINO – Republican In Name Only. The moderate-leaning Bohlinger, like many, probably grew tired of the Tea Party leaning Republican Party.
I like John Bohlinger.
U.S. Senator Max Baucus decided to retire. So Bohlinger decided to run for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat.
Republicans really don’t care too much about that, because they have their man, Congressman Steve Daines, who announced he was running for U.S. Senate. They believe he can beat anyone. This is the same cockiness they showed when “the man” before Daines, Congressman Denny Rehberg, challenged Senator Jon Tester. Rehberg lost.
Welcome to “Caught My Eye!” Hopefully this column will help make the time go by quickly for those of you counting the hours before you are on vacation for the rest of the year!
By the way, be careful at today’s office Christmas party!
If this is your first time visiting The Western Word, the “Caught My Eye” column is posted every Friday morning! This is when I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm just to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little.
Today I write about the MT Senate jockeying, Brian Schweitzer, Tester’s Forest Jobs bill, Rep. Mike Miller and a Secretive Conservative Group, Smoking Shelters, a Book Sale, Phyllis from Mulga, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!