Hot on the heals of Skink’s previous post on the shenanigans of the Montana Dem Party, we have another prime example of the Dem party wanting to tinker with picking the candidate before the public has a chance to weigh in.
Yesterday, Missoula County Democrats met to begin winnowing down the slate of candidates to replace Missoula County Commissioner Bill Carey, who is retiring. While Carey’s retirement raised more than a few eyebrows on its own, we’ll leave Bill to his retirement without inspecting the ghosts in his closet…
In a parody that uncanningly plays out what was going on at MT Cowgirl with the Mt Dems picking a new party leader, and the governor’s office while picking the
winners loser (John Walsh) to finish out Senator Baucus’ term and run as an incumbent, Missoula County Dems seem to be losing touch with their history and their base.
5 candidates submitted applications to fill out Carey’s term. Of the 5, only one — Jim Parker — committed to being a placeholder candidate and to not run for the office. Missoula County Dems advanced 3 candidates to the two remaining County Commissioners to pick a replacement. Fortunately, the Commissioners have the choice between Parker and former City Councilwoman Stacey Rye. Missoula political newcomer Chantelle Gaynor was the third candidate chosen by the straw poll, but my sense is that the Commissioners would choose Rye, a political known, over Gaynor, a newcomer. You can read up on the bios about the applicants here.
Now where this gets interesting, outside of the obvious problem of two County Commissioners picking a candidate that could act as an incumbent and theoretically garner an advantage (how’d that work out for Walsh?), we get to look at the eviction notice that Skink and I received at 4&20 Blackbirds last month from Jay Stevens:
But, honestly, with Lee Enterprises cutting its state political bureau, now is the time for informative writing about state and local politics. Now is the time for reasoned views about the critical issues that affect everyday Montanans and Missoulians.
Which is why I put a lockdown on the site for now. It’s time for a reboot.
I don’t know what will happen to the site. I hope it will continue. I’ve asked jhwygirl to step up again, and I think she’s game. We’ll try to recruit new writers, and we’ll keep some of the old ones. But we’ll redirect the site to opinions and news that people need and like.
And the next (and up to the time of this post) and last post at 4&20 had jhwygirl plugging Stacey Rye for County Commissioner:
…and Stacy Rye is back on the political scene, throwing her hat in the ring for Missoula County Commissioner. With the loss of Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, and now Mike Dennison and Chuck Johnson from the state capital, I’d like to do my part and get back to facilitating awareness of legislation in action.
In other words, some pretty milquetoast stuff.
And electing Stacy Rye to Missoula County Commissioner should be a no-brainer.
I have to interject here that my intent is not to beat up on jhwygirl’s enthusiasm for Rye’s candidacy, nor am I suggesting that Rye could be a bad candidate (and jhwygirl wasn’t aware of who else was running for the interim appointment when she wrote her piece). I just happen to think it is premature for Missoula Dems to be throwing all their weight behind Rye (she won the straw poll yesterday, beating out Parker by 6 votes). Particularly with such an interesting candidate that Gaynor would make. If she doesn’t get the appointment, I hope she stays in the race to raise her issues and give Rye a good challenge.
Does it really serve the political interests of Missoulians that a handful of Missoula County Dems forward on 3 candidates, and that 2 Commissioners get to pick the incumbent if he/she chooses to run for election? And given an appointee’s temporary incumbency, is it good for Missoulians that she be given an advantage over other possible candidates? I for one would love to see Rye and Gaynor (and whatever other candidates throw their hats into the tussle) debate issues critical to Missoula County on an even keel.
The reasoning behind having Rye as an incumbent make me very uncomfortable. Here’s a few quotes from the Missoulian’s coverage of the straw poll:
A plug for Parker:
“I want to speak in favor of the candidate I won’t be voting for next November, and that’s Jim Parker,” said party member Ben Darrow. “I would encourage his consideration. As a placeholder, he gives commissioners some interesting options. He’s not electable as a person because he’s so progressive [emphasis added]. He can push things forward in a way other candidates cannot.”
In my estimation, Parker would make a great interim appointee, not the least because of his intention to not muck up the primary process. As to being “so progressive”, I’ve known Parker for a long time, and while maybe compared to rightward-leaning dems he’s “progressive”, he’s really a pretty mainstream Democrat for Missoula.
And for Stacy Rye:
Tim Lovely, a precinct committee member, said the advantage of incumbency shouldn’t be overlooked.
“We need to think seriously about who we’re bringing forward here,” said Lovely. “Once a person has spent time in office, they’re more likely to be reelected to that office. By not choosing one of these candidates who will run for reelection, we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage.”
Lovely said the party’s mission statement said it was bound by regulation to elect Democrats.
“We cannot pass up the opportunity to give one of those Democrats the position of incumbency,” said Lovely.
So we’ve basically got Tim Lovely creating a political landscape for Missoula County that precludes the interests of “progressives”, as that would disadvantage the Democrat Party. Does Lovely agree with Ben Darrow that “He’s [Parker’s] not electable as a person because he’s so progressive”? Good question!
One would think that Stacey Rye could quite capably run on her record as a Missoula City Councilwoman, and the grand communitarian she is (she’s currently listed as the Community Relations Manager at the United Way of Missoula County). Of course, that City Council record is peppered with some of what I would consider less than progressive votes, and that I have criticized over the years.
One of those votes was for not extending the time frame of the Missoula Performing Arts Center proposal for the empty Fox site downtown (which took the land reservation for the Fox site away from them). And what did that vote precipate for the site? Well, 4 years later we still have an empty site with the promise of a hotel/convention center and a bunch of condos and restaurants catering to the wealthy. Then there’s the downtown homeless debate and votes she was involved in several years ago, but that’s a topic for another day…
Finally, I just have to make the statement that it seems that Missoula Democrats seem to be going the way of Montana Dems, and I have one piece of advice:
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!
And maybe 4&20 will offer up some “reasoned views” as Mr. Stevens says, to counter our criticism of the Montana and Missoula Dem party here. Or maybe Missoula dems will just keep sliding politically to the right due to lack of pushback (or maybe that is Stevens’ goal)…