Political Trough: The Governor’s “Salt in the Wound Tour”

Aaron Flint posted on April 21, 2014 15:36 :: 1022 Views

Is Common Core a wedge issue for the GOP? The Bozeman Daily Chronicle gives a boost to US Senate candidate John Bohlinger (D-MT) over appointed Senator John Walsh (D-MT).  US House candidate Corey Stapleton is up with a new ad.  And- is Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices unfairly weilding his authority? 

Those stories and more are in this week’s Political Trough, but first- it sounds like Governor Steve Bullock’s (D-MT) “salt in the wound tour” was a flop…his big $45 million announcement for infrastructure in Eastern Montana, by and large, covers a proposal that would still need to be approved by the Legislature.  This comes after Gov. Bullock vetoed an infrastructure package in the last session.  Was this announcement really worth threatening The Billings Gazette over?

Billings Gazette: Bullock’s Bakken aid proposal needs approval from Legislature

“We run it through a quick-start program that requires legislative approval,” Bullock said. “But, the expectation is the day this bill was signed, the applications would be up and we would have money out by early summer of 2015 after the session.”

Jeff Essmann, R-Billings and senate president in 2013, said not much has changed since Republicans last rejected the governor’s proposal to borrow money for Bakken infrastructure.
“We need a serious proposal, not posturing,” Essmann said. “Most of the legislators I’m talking to still believe in meeting immediate needs with cash on hand rather than borrowing money so you can cause cash on hand for growing government.”

Meanwhile, the attempt to stop the press from previewing the announcement made Romanesko’s media blog:  Montana governor’s media guy really knows how to hurt a newspaper!

Gazette political reporter Tom Lutey tells Romenesko readers: “Gov. Bullock’s office issued a non-embargoed advisory. We reported it. If Mr. Parker chooses to exclude The Gazette in the future, we will certainly report that, too.”

Montana Media Trackers: Big Sky Tea Party Groups Hold Tax Day Rally, Present Petition to COPP

About three dozen Members of the Big Sky Tea Party Association marched to the Montana Office of Political Practices yesterday to present a petition to Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl demanding that he take steps to ensure fairness in how his office enforces campaign laws.

“We’ve seen Commissioner Motl open closed cases against Republican candidates and it’s time he opened cases that have been filed against Democrats,” (State House candidate Matthew Monforton) told Media Trackers.

Critics of Motl point out that, while he has been quick to pursue complaints against conservative candidates and groups, he has let major complaints against prominent Democrats languish — such as the 277 page complaint involving Gov. Bullock and the activities of Hilltop Public Solutions.

US House candidate Corey Stapleton is out with a new ad.  Here’s the video:

Bozeman Chronicle editorial: Montana party officials wrong to endorse candidates before primary

Let’s be frank: Calling Walsh “the incumbent” is a bit of a stretch. One doesn’t have to be too cynical to regard Baucus’ early departure from the Senate and Walsh’s appointment as an orchestrated effort to give Walsh an edge in this hotly contested race.

The choice of party leaders to endorse Walsh is troubling in that it discourages voters from giving all candidates in the race a fair shake. The endorsement seems like a clear attempt to mute Bohlinger’s voice in this important primary election. The party was more than happy to embrace Bohlinger when he split with Republicans. But now, it seems, he has outstayed his welcome.

Great Falls Tribune: Walsh optimistic Front bill will get vote

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus originally introduced the bill, but he left the Senate after being appointed ambassador to China. In February, Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh as Baucus’ replacement. One of Walsh’s first acts was to co-sponsor the Heritage Act.

“It’s breathtaking to look at the Rocky Mountain Front when you drive by,” Walsh said.

Walsh hasn’t hiked on the Front but said he plans to and recently visited Choteau and the Forest Service office to look at maps of the area.

New York Times: Republicans See Political Wedge in Common Core

The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush.

It is not just conservatives who have turned against the Common Core: The leaders of major teachers unions are also pushing back because of the new, more difficult tests aligned to the standards that are being used to evaluate both students and teachers.

“You have this unlikely marriage of folks on the far right who are convinced this is part of a federal takeover of local education, who have joined hands with folks on the left associated with teachers unions who are trying to sever any connection between test results and teacher evaluation,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican who supports the Common Core.

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