Montana politics

In a debate that seemed as late as Friday not likely to happen, Republican Ryan Zinke met Democrat John Lewis in a statewide debate that focused on experience and education Monday night in Billings.

Montana PBS had already cancelled broadcast coverage after Zinke cited a scheduling conflict, but the Monday evening debate was available across the state on radio. You can listen to the debate from Yellowstone Public Radio.

Neither candidate has widespread name recognition – Zinke having served in the state legislature and Lewis as state director for former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus – so the debates are a vital piece of both men’s campaigns, according to University of Montana political science professor Christopher Muste.

I think Zinke will attack Lewis for being inexperienced and Lewis will attack Zinke for being out of touch and having extreme views on a number of issues,” Muste said in the pre-debate analysis with Montana Public Radio.

The debate, in the end, was largely a civil and substantive affair. Zinke stuck hard to the issues of education and energy independence, claiming that Montana “had enough coal to support the nation at peak consumption for the next 100 years.”

Lewis countered that Zinke would pursue oil and gas exploration at all times and criticized him for not support limits on energy exploration near Glacier National Park, a position supported by current U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.

On education, Zinke stated he rejected the increasingly controversial learning standards known as Common Core and wanted to boost more training for skilled labor.

Lewis focused his efforts in staking out support for higher education and reducing student loans. He said by financing student loans “much like you would a house” and ensuring continued access to Pell Grants, he could cut the amount of debt many Montana students have. He added that Zinke would cut support for higher education, making it more expensive for students.

The two meet again on Saturday for a debate in Bozeman.

The death of perennial Libertarian Congressional candidate Mike Fellows in a car accident as he was coming home from a campaign event, the debate in Billings between Gov. Steve Bullock and his challenger Greg Gianforte Monday, and the release of a couple of new ads in the U.S. House race. Chuck Johnson and Professor Rob Saldin join Sally Mauk to discuss these topics and more on this episode of “Campaign Beat.”

Republican Representatives Brad Tschida, Ron Ehli, and Nancy Ballance.
Edward O'Brien

With the election six weeks away, Republican state lawmakers say Montana’s Democratic governor needs a reality check. They say the state’s economy is more fragile than Steve Bullock’s letting on.

Tribal Leaders Group Endorses Gov. Steve Bullock

Sep 22, 2016

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Association unanimously endorsed Governor Steve Bullock during its quarterly meeting in Billings. 

Fort Belknap Tribal Chairman Mark Azure says the endorsement comes because of the Bullock Administration’s working relationship with the tribal governments.

“And we want to be recognized as a sovereign nation,” Azure says. “And I think governor Bullock gets that. My fear is the other folks don’t get that. I don’t think we here at the table can afford to see that other party fill those seats.”

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office
Steve Jess

Supporters of a medical marijuana ballot initiative are asking Montana’s top political cop to penalize the efforts of a group opposing their work.

Montana Citizens for I-182, a ballot issue group supporting the proposal to expand medical marijuana in the state, filed the complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices Wednesday afternoon.

Mike Fellows speaking at a candidate forum in Seeley Lake Sept. 19, 2016. Fellows died in a car crash shortly after the event.
Corin Cates-Carney

At a small community hall in Seeley Lake Monday night, Libertarian candidate for the U.S. House Mike Fellows shared his views at a sparsely-attended candidates forum.

Candidates for Montana’s contested seat in the state Supreme Court met and debated in Seeley Lake Monday night during a candidate forum.

The race between Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur is the only nonpartisan contest appearing on this year’s ballot. And whoever is elected will serve eight years as one of seven justices in Montana’s highest court.

KULR TV

In last night’s gubernatorial debate in Billings the opponents painted very different pictures of Montana’s economy, attacked one another’s character and provided few straightforward answers to direct questions.

Listen: Bullock Gianforte Debate, Sep. 19, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Steve Bullock and Greg Gianforte, candidates for Montana governor, met in Billings for their second debate Monday night. Listen to the full debate here.

Listen to Montana gubernatorial candidates Steve Bullock and Greg Gianforte debate from Billings Monday September 19, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
MTPR News

Listen to the audio archive of the Sep. 19 gubernatorial debate

The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor debate for the second time tonight in Billings. MTPR will carry the debate live starting at 7:00.

Gov. Bullock's campaign has portrayed Greg Gianforte as a rich out-of-stater. Gianforte has been painting Bullock as weak on jobs. Are these arguments effective? We also look at how the issue of gun control always comes up in major Montana races, and why that is such an effective campaign tactic in Montana. Lastly, we discuss whether or not ties to the presidential candidates will hurt or help the Montana candidates this year.

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