Democrats SWEEP in Montana

Hey, this is Bob's birthday present (really!). Also, check out the Sirota-Ochenski Debate on Left in the West, for more background info-- Jerome

Democrats sweep in Montana. Democrats won the governor's mansion, the state senate, and now they have tied the state house meaning they win the speaker's gavel! From the AP:

HELENA, Mont. - The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a decision that determined a disputed legislative race was tied, likely giving Democrats control of the state House of Representatives.

The 6-1 decision threw out a lower court ruling from earlier this month that seven contested ballots had properly been counted for Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore.

The high court declared "one or more" contested ballots in the tied race invalid. Throwing out even one of those ballots means the vote tally swings to Democrat Jeanne Windham, the Supreme Court said.

That, in turn, creates a 50-50 tie between Republicans and Democrats in the House and means the next House speaker likely will be from the party of Democratic Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer. The party that controls the governor's office in Montana breaks ties in electing House speakers.

Here is some more on the Seven illegal ballots in HD 12.

I believe in a 50 state strategy because of quotes like this from the Billings Gazette:

Democrats now claim control of both House and Senate, as well as the governor's office. Before the November election, Democrats held no major positions of power.

I now feel more confident proclaiming that Montana is a Swing State.

From tomorrow's New York Times:
HELENA, Mont., Dec. 28 - The Montana Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a Democrat was the winner of a contested seat in the State House of Representatives, a decision that gives the party control of the governor's office and both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since 1977.
As Jerome mentioned, today is my birthday -- I was born in 1977.

For the first time in a generation, Democrats are on the offensive. How BIG is this story. Well Montana journalists named the Democratic comeback the BIGGEST story of the year.

This decision not only decided which party control's the Speaker's Gavel, but also decided the membership of the school funding committee that will redo Montana's funding formula for K-12 education (in response to another court decision).

On the flip side, had the GOP prevailed the Republican speaker could have effectively ended Governor-elect Brian Schweitzer's legislative agenda. Montana's citizen legislature meets for only 90 days every other year. So GOP control would have allowed the Republican Speaker to stall legislation for 45 days to miss the transmittal deadline and end the legislative potential of the first half of Schweitzer's term.

Governor Brian Schweitzer, Senate President Jon Tester, and Speaker Dave Wanzenried now have a historic opportunity to prove to Montanans that the Democratic Party is worthy of support. The 90 day legislative session begins next week. They are in control, but not by much. As the Times noted:

"Cooperation will be at a premium," said Dave Wanzenried, the Democratic leader in the House, who will become the next speaker.

Still, the ruling cemented a remarkable political turnaround for the Democrats, who until November held no major positions of power in the state save one United States Senate seat. Even as President Bush took 59 percent of the vote here in November, Brian Schweitzer, a rancher, won the governorship for his party and is now being held up as a model for Democrats looking to make gains in the Rocky Mountain States.

Democrats can win in the West. Democrats need to win in the West.

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Comments

21 Comments

This is huge
Montana, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona...here we come!
by raginillinoian 2004-12-28 03:38PM | 0 recs
the west holds our future
For Democrats, looking west is looking forward.
by blogswarm 2004-12-28 03:40PM | 0 recs
What issues are winning out west
can you list them succintly? I know they had a discussion over at Kos, but it quickly devolved into a discussion of the South by a lot of people or cheerleading- so I am curious what exactly is working for Dems in the West that is different from other regions- and is it issues- or simply the breed of leadership?
by bruh21 2004-12-28 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: What issues are winning out west
If you have a moment, grab yourself a beverage, kick your feet back, and read the articles cited in Sirota-Ochenski debate.

It isn't just the issues, it is the spine.

by blogswarm 2004-12-28 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: What issues are winning out west
thanks- i will check it o ut- it probably will confirm what i suspected
by bruh21 2004-12-28 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What issues are winning out west
You'll enjoy it, Sirota and Ochenski are both great writers.
by blogswarm 2004-12-28 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: What issues are winning out west
One word: populism.
by Covin 2004-12-28 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: What issues are winning out west
the environment is important too.

Turning the gun-owners and hunters to be more concerned about the environment.  The GOP was pushing these mining contracts into green space.

Bit them in the ass.

by pacified 2004-12-29 04:44AM | 0 recs
Seriously
Congrats to all in Montana who did a great job.  As far as I'm concerned, the national party needs to look first to Montana and then to, well, Colorado for direction in the next elections.
by Denver 2004-12-28 08:30PM | 0 recs
My Son Lives in Missoula
And he's a Democrat.
by donna in evanston 2004-12-29 04:15AM | 0 recs
Re: My Son Lives in Missoula
Isn't Missoula the Raleigh-Durham of Montana?
by raginillinoian 2004-12-29 06:30AM | 0 recs
one note
The Montana Democratic Party has its shit together.  That's not uniformly true around the country.
by Matt Stoller 2004-12-29 05:52AM | 0 recs
yeah, well..........
Things just got very, very interesting in Montana. It looks like a very-conservative Democratic lawmaker is attempting to have the GOP elect him speaker in a parlimentary maneuver designed to splinter the Democratic Party.

This is getting more interesting every day. I have an update on the Cross-Aisle coup over on Matt Singer's Left in the West. You probably remember Matt from his time at Not Geniuses, now he's ventured out on his own to write about Montana, the west, and Democratic action. The MT legislative session begins Monday, if you're looking for updates on how Governor Schweitzer is doing, Matt's Left in the West is the place to go.

by blogswarm 2004-12-29 06:09AM | 0 recs
Stop the Cross Aisle Coup
Could everyone take a moment to send a quick email and remind him that Democrats need to stick together. Let's send him more emails than he has received his entire life:

Gary Matthews - HD 40
1708 Main Street
Miles City, MT 59301
Phone: (406) 234-5696
E-mail: matthews@midrivers.com
by blogswarm 2004-12-29 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop the Cross Aisle Coup
I sent an email I reccomend everyone do the same. BURN UP HIS COMPUTER
by sam89 2004-12-29 10:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop the Cross Aisle Coup
sent him an email
by Matt Stoller 2004-12-29 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop the Cross Aisle Coup
Okay I sent him an email and he replied:

Sam....The governor of this state is telling the people of Mt that it's a "new day" and he wants R's and D's to work together so I have to disagree with you...Gary

----- Original Message -----
From:  Sam  Blank  
To: matthews@midrivers.com  
Subject: Unified Party
Dear Mr.  Matthews,
    In the wake of the November elections in  your state it is quite clear that the Democratic party is the party of the  future in Montana. If you try your cross aisle coup you will be holding back  the progress that the Democratic party can make in your state. There is so  much to be done in your state government, partisan bickering is not necessary.  Remember: United we win, divided we fall.
Sincerely,
Sam  

by sam89 2004-12-30 12:12PM | 0 recs
Them ain't no Kos Dems in MT
Good point; but another one is that Montana may swing DESPITE "Kosian" style blue state Dems, not because of them. These Montanans are some of the Dems Donnie Fowler's talking about: people who embrace core Dem values but also share many with Libertarians, independents and the GOP.

The vital center. It's where the key to the red-zone lies.

by ringmaster 2004-12-29 07:40AM | 0 recs
Exactly
This is why we need to drop gun control.  It's one of the few areas where the Democrats and Libertarian-types disagree with on personal liberty.  That is, gun control is nearly the only topic that the Democrats want to prevent individuals (as opposed to corporations or various branches of the government) from being able to do things.

If Kerry can out loudly against the dumb Assault Weapons ban (IE, took a more pro-gun position than Bush), he would have won Montana, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico, Arizona, and Ohio.

If we are writing off the south (and we pretty much need to, because most of the southern states are now majority wingnuts (not moderates, economic conservatives-no, religious whackadoodles)), we need to attract the West, Midwest, and Southwest.  We can tie it to pro-enviromental positions, making it a pro-hunting position.

by Geotpf 2004-12-29 12:29PM | 0 recs
GOP is not libertarian
unless libertarianism is just a cover for
sucking up to big corporations and busting
unions.  What's libertarian about theocracy,
torture, human rights violatons, and wars of aggression?

i agree with dropping the gun issue, it's a loser.  stand up for personal freedom, social
justice, economic populism and progressivism.

by aenglish 2004-12-29 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Them ain't no Kos Dems in MT
I have to agree too.  While I am for some forms of gun control (sorry, I doubt the Founding fathers thought people would create machine guns etc.), it is a loser topic.  I think we need to come out even more strongly on crimes with guns involved.  Make the punishment stricter if a gun is used.  Also we need to have some kind of unintentional manslaughter charge if someone dies because you were stupid enough to not lock up your guns properly and your kid shoots himself or the neighbors or takes your gun to school and shoots people.  They need to re-frame as crime control...You can have your guns, but you use them in a crime and you are going away for 20 years plus.  I know it sounds extreme but...  I also have been in favor of putting serial numbers on bullets and tracing what bullets get sold to whom.  I am sure this won't sit well with many people but it may make it easier to solve a crime; at least pointing the cops in the right direction.  
by yitbos96bb 2004-12-30 08:10AM | 0 recs

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