Political Trough: Will GOP Legislators Use the Nuclear Option?

That is one sad donkey.  The below screenshot showing the front page of Sunday’s Great Falls Tribune seems to summarize the latest election night for Montana Democrats who saw their US House and US Senate candidates get trounced, and the Montana Legislature remain in Republican hands. 

Most of the political coverage, so far, seems to have focused on which Montana legislators are vying for leadership positions, and how Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) once again hopes to pick off individual legislators in order to advance his agenda.  

Last session, Gov. Bullock vetoed legislation and blocked key initiatives of some of those same Republican legislators who worked with him.  Even so, a question remains ahead of the upcoming caucus votes- will some of those same moderate Republicans now exercise “the nuclear option” and team up with state senate Democrats just so they can hold leadership positions in the state senate? 

Feel free to weigh in on the comments section below this post with your thoughts.  In the meantime, there’s lots of news to check out in this week’s Political Trough:


The Great Falls Tribune: Dispirited Democrats by John Adams

Though they still control the governor’s office, Democrats will find it difficult to move their party’s agenda forward in the 2015 Legislature. Republicans won’t be eager to hand Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock or his party many policy victories in advance of the 2016 election cycle.

Across the country, Republicans picked up seats in state legislatures — now controlling 70 percent of state legislative bodies — and now control at least 31 governorships (two races are still undecided).

Not since the 1928 presidential election have Democrats across the country suffered such massive defeats.

Mike Dennison’s Reporter’s notebook: After Democrats’ drubbing on Tuesday, Bullock agenda faces uphill battle

Outgoing Republican Senate President Jeff Essmann of Billings, who also won a House seat, said Gov. Bullock “is in denial as much as Barack Obama at this point,” if he thinks Republicans in the Legislature will support things like expanding Medicaid, expanding preschool education and cracking down on so-called “dark money” in campaigns.

“What people care about is improving the economy and improving job prospects and the quality of life in Montana,” he said. “That’s what our focus should be.”

Great Falls Tribune: Will the 2015 Legislature mirror last session?

Despite Democrats’ early election season hopes that they could make gains in House and perhaps win enough close races to take leadership control of the Senate, in the end the 2015 Legislature will look much as it did in 2013 … but perhaps even more conservative than it was last session.

“I think when you look at who got elected who are new to the bodies, it’s a slightly more conservative group of elected people,” said Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich, who easily won election to a House seat on election night.

Billings Gazette: Contested races likely for House, Senate leadership posts

Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, said she announced her candidacy for Senate president last summer and intends to pursue it. She was Senate president pro tempore in 2013.

“I just want to pull our caucus, our party, together,” said Barrett, a rancher, referring to the split among Senate Republicans in 2013. “I want to have smooth sailing, have unity and identify our Republican priorities.”

Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, a rancher and retired educator, was mentioned by some as a potential Senate president candidate.

Chuck Johnson: National trends ‘carried in Montana’; Dems fell short in urban areas

The good news for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who’s up for re-election in 2016, is that the makeup of the 2015 Legislature isn’t much different from that in 2013, Parker said.

“The bad news, is if I were a ‘responsible Republican,’ what would I stand to gain by working with Bullock this time?” he said.

Some “responsible Republicans,” who united with Bullock and Democratic legislators in 2013 to pass some key bills, found themselves targeted by Democratic mailers this fall.


This headline says it all…

The Hill: After rout, Dems plan few changes

Politifact: Sean Hannity says every new GOP senator wants to repeal and replace Obamacare

Steve Daines – Montana: When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced her resignation, Daines said, “While Secretary Sebelius’ resignation is a good start, it’s not enough — we need to repeal Obamacare before further harm comes to Montana families, and replace it with Montana-driven reforms that put the patient and their doctor — not government bureaucrats — in charge of health care decisions.”

But during an October debate, when Daines was asked about repealing Obamacare, he gave a slightly nuanced response, “I did not vote against Obamacare 40 times. Should check my record. I voted against it once, to repeal Obamacare. That’s my voting record.”

Bottom line, Hannity is clearly right on the trend line.

Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal: A Message Sent to a Grudging President

Republicans won not only because of a favorable map. In solid Democratic states, they won big or came close. Nor were the results due only to low midterm turnout. Nate Cohn, in the  New York Times , noted that turnout in Colorado was up over 2010, yet Republican Cory Gardner beat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall with room to spare. The sheer number of blowouts was mind-boggling. Sen.  Mitch McConnell  was supposed to win in Kentucky, but not by 15 points. In Arkansas the Republican challenger, Tom Cotton, beat Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mark Pryor, by 17 points. In Georgia, where the Senate race was assumed to be close, the Republican won by eight. Republican Pat Roberts, left for dead in Kansas months ago, won by 10.

Common sense says a chastened president would acknowledge the obvious—some things aren’t working, he has made some mistakes—and, in Mr. Obama’s case, hit the reset button with Congress. Reach out, be humble. Humility has power. It shows people that you have some give—you get the message, you are capable of self-correcting.

That is not what he’s doing. The president is instead doubling down on hostility, antagonism and distance.

The Daily Signal- Caught on Camera: Obamacare Architect Admits Deceiving Americans to Pass Law

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” says the MIT economist who helped write Obamacare. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

The Daily Signal: Sexual Liberty and Religious Liberty Can Coexist. Here’s How.

Consider Brendan Eich, who six years ago made a donation to Proposition 8, and six years later, when it was discovered, was forced to resign as CEO of Mozilla Firefox. Never mind that Prop 8, defining marriage in California as the union of a man and woman, passed with more than 7 million votes. That view was now considered unacceptable.

As these controversies were unfolding, no one suggested that Mozilla had to employ Eich or that A&E had to employ Robertson. No one wanted a law to force Mozilla and A&E to do this. No one suggested the government should coerce them into employing Robertson and Eich. They had the right to do what they did even if many Americans didn’t think it was the right thing to do.

Much worse than the stories about Brendan Eich or Phil Robertson are the stories that involve government coercion, government fines and other punitive action. The examples are well known at this point.

PJMedia.com- The John Birch Left and Progressives’ Transference of Their Fears; Ed Driscoll offers a new label: The John Birch Left.

But just as the Bircher right began to see communists everywhere, the new Bircher left sees racism, sexism, homophobia, and Koch Brothers everywhere.

They’re lurking around more corners than Gen. Ripper imagined there were commies lurking inside Burpelson Air Force Base. They’re inside your video games! They own NFL teams! They’ll steal your condoms! Disagree with President Obama? Racist! (That goes for you too, Bill, Hillary, and your Democratic supporters.) Not onboard for gender-neutral bathrooms? Not too thrilled with abortion-obsessed candidates like Wendy Davis and “Mark Uterus”? Sexist! Disagree with using global warming as a cudgel to usher in the brave new world of bankrupt coal companies and $10 a gallon gasoline? Climate denier!

The original Birchers weren’t bad people, but their Cold War paranoia got the better of them. Similarly, as Charles Krauthammer famously said, “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” which illustrates how a John Birch-style worldview can cause the modern leftists to take an equally cracked view of his fellow countrymen, to the point of writing off entire states and genders . . .

The Hill: The U.S. government’s diminishing commitment to the security of its own citizens by Dr. Christina Villegas   

The case of my cousin, Dr. Shane Truman Todd, is one example of how our own government is undermining the very principles our veterans have served.

Yet, to this day the FBI has ignored written requests from the family and several members of Congress — including former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — to meet with the family and interview the computer forensic expert who analyzed Dr. Todd’s hard drive.
Even more troubling than the FBI’s apparent lack of concern over a potential national security breach, is the State Department’s endorsement of Singapore’s flawed investigation into Dr. Todd’s death.

It appears that justice for an American family and legitimate national security concerns have been ignored either for political reasons or simply to placate international sensibilities. Our government’s primary duty is not to advance the interests of those in power — it is to protect the security and rights of each of its individual citizens.

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