Montana Senate Race


Thin Black Line
October 20, 2006, 08:29 AM
Sounds like a test case for the Democrats now, use on a wider scale later in 2008.,,3-2412530,00.html

The Times October 20, 2006

Guts and guns: how the Democrats are planning to win back the West

By Tim Reid

A new strategy in Montana is aiming to steal the populist thunder of Republicans

HIS gut hanging over an iron belt buckle, Jon Tester steps forward in a pair of bullhide cowboy boots, grinning under a flat-top crew cut, a giant man with the build of a grizzly bear.

He adjusts the microphone with a left hand that is missing three fingers — lost in a meat grinder on the family farm when he was 9 — and looks out at a crowd in this corner of Montana, once home to Buffalo Bill Cody, where people still like their steaks thick, taxes low and guns loaded.

“For a dirt farmer who grew up 12 miles west of Big Sandy, comin’ into a room like this — this is great,” he says. His audience cheers.

Mr Tester, 50, is a genuine, big old farm boy. He opposes gay marriage, supports the death penalty, says Hillary Clinton “doesn’t do much for me”, loves guns, hates illegal immigrants, and is the Democrat candidate for Montana’s contested US Senate seat in next month’s midterm elections.

In polls, Mr Tester narrowly leads Conrad Burns, the three-term Republican incumbent, in a state carried by President Bush in 2004 by 18 points. His appearance and his conservative stand on economic and cultural issues, sits at the heart of a new Democrat strategy to win in Republican bastions this year: full-throated populism.

“I don’t look like other senators,” Mr Tester boasts. “But isn’t it time the Senate looked a little bit more like Montana?” Montana is one of six Senate seats that the Democrats have to win to retake control of the chamber. Most of those contests are in Republican or swing states, and in nearly all of them the party is fielding candidates who, like Mr Tester, are culturally conservative — well to the right of Democrats’ grassroots activists — and economically populist. They are anti-free trade and protectionist, rail against the outsourcing of jobs to China, but also advocate lowering taxes and balancing the federal budget.

“Just look at Jon Tester — the buzz cut, the big gut. He is Montana,” said Larry Sabato, a political analyst. “Does he look like a liberal Democrat? No chance. He is a populist. And that’s why I think he’s going to win. The Democrats have woken up. They are tired of losing. They have caught up with reality. The country is largely conservative, and they are making the changes needed to win.”

In addition to Mr Tester, other Democrat Senate hopefuls with good chances of beating Republican opponents include Jim Webb in Virginia, Harold Ford in Tennessee, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Messrs Brown, Casey and Tester are unapologetic economic populists; Messrs Ford, Webb and Tester take Republican stands on cultural issues.

Mr Tester, like the other Democrat candidates, is also being helped by the Republicans’ myriad political problems, including Iraq, corruption and scandal — and nowhere has this been more colourfully on display than in Montana.

Mr Burns was once the embodiment of Big Sky Country, as Montana — a state of just 900,000 — is known. He picks his teeth with a pocket-knife, chews tobacco and tells earthy jokes. But in January it emerged that he had taken $150,000 in contributions from the disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty last year to bribing politicians. Mr Tester has hammered away on the issue for months, accusing Mr Burns of what in Montana is political apostasy — “going Washington”.

Mr Burns has also made several blunders. He insulted local firemen, saying that they did a “piss-poor” job fighting a wildfire; he called Arab oil sheikhs “ragheads”, and suggested all taxi drivers were terrorists.

But it is Mr Tester’s ability to out-Montana Mr Burns and his populist embrace of Republican issues that has been crucial. Should he win, Montana’s two senators and its Governor, Brian Schweitzer, a prairie populist, will all be Democrats for the first time since 1989. A Tester victory will bolster claims by the party’s centrists that the only way to gain ground in Republican strongholds is to run as conservative Democrats. It will also give Capitol Hill a protectionist lurch, pitting supporters of a global economy — most leading Republicans — against many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, who are embracing the populism of “fair wages” for workers.

“I do some of my best thinking on my tractor,” Mr Tester told The Times. “I say what I say because I’m a Montanan. If the national folks in Washington don’t agree wi’ that, I guess I’m different from them.”

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October 20, 2006, 11:23 AM
The problem with voting for somebody like Tester is that then the Democrats have the senate majority and then Schumer or Hillary becomes majority leader. :(

Tester may indeed be a good guy, but I am somewhat suspicious of Montana Democrats since they took control of the state legislature, and "Vermont carry" failed to pass in 2005 :mad:

This whole election is absolutely disgusting. The Republicans are awful and the Democrats are worse. Burns might have had a chance for re-election if one of his aides had stuffed a sock in his mouth some months ago :rolleyes:

Thin Black Line
October 20, 2006, 11:27 AM
Burns might have had a chance for re-election if one of his aides had stuffed a sock in his mouth some months ago

LOL, but isn't it good to know the truth, warts and all?!

October 20, 2006, 12:15 PM

What matters, the party affiliation or the values?

We already have plenty of RINOs who are no allies when it comes to what matters.

Aguila Blanca
October 20, 2006, 06:42 PM
Burns might have had a chance for re-election if one of his aides had stuffed a sock in his mouth some months ago
Burns might also have had a better chance if he hadn't accepted funny money from that scumbag, Abramoff.

If you don't do the dirty deed, nobody can tattle on you. Republicans love to claim the "moral high ground," but when you peek under the carpets, they've got as much swept under there as the Democraps.

October 20, 2006, 07:17 PM
IMO Burns' pooping on the firefighters did him more harm than anything. He had a legitimate gripe, but you don't take it out on the troops - you talk to the leadership who make the decisions.

I suppose I should just throw up my hands and vote for Stan Jones :p

Thin Black Line
October 21, 2006, 08:27 AM
Another update from the british press related to Democrats who like guns:,,3-2414298,00.html


A typical Reagan Democrat grew up in a heavily unionised, blue collar home, probably in the Midwest. His father and grandfather were diehard Democrat voters

He is white, religious, married with children, a high school graduate who never went to university, and like his father, a tradesman

He wears jeans and a baseball cap, drinks beer, eats pizza, hunts, loves American football and watches Nascar, the hugely popular stock car racing.

He is less well educated than a typical Republican, earns less money but shares the same sense of patriotism and moral direction. In Pennsylvania, many Reagan Democrats are Catholic and oppose abortion.

By the early 1980s the typical Reagan Democrat was in his 40s, but had become deeply disaffected with the Democratic Party. He saw the party of his father and grandfather now beholden to pressure groups including feminists, African Americans, and the gay rights lobby.

Ronald Reagan’s championing of religion, national security and moral patriotism — God, guns and guts — plus his message of economic optimism was far more appealing. Millions of Democrats voted for Reagan’s re-election in 1984.

Dave R
October 21, 2006, 10:11 AM
What matters, the party affiliation or the values? OUr system certainly has its faults, and this is one of them. If the D's get a majority in the legislature, this is the result.

The problem with voting for somebody like Tester is that then the Democrats have the senate majority and then Schumer or Hillary becomes majority leader.

If you're willing to accept that result, then vote Democrat. Otherwise vote Republican. Big picture vs. local race.

Dan from MI
October 22, 2006, 10:46 PM
I'm not real happy with a lot of the Republicans out there due to their move to the left. Unfortunately most democrats have moved even further to the left.

As for Tester, I hope he's in the Ben Nelson mold, but I distrust any faux-populist candidates with a D after seeing the "John Kerry the hunter" campaign that was forced on us in 04.

And Schumer, Leahy, Kennedy, Durbin, and the like in leadership scares the hell out of me.

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