MTPR

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 Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

As state lawmakers debate bills designed to keep the strip mine and coal fired power plant at Colstrip open as long as possible, a social experimenter in Helena is convening an event aimed at the heart of the debate over whether fossil fuel-based economies should have a place in Montana’s Future. Tate Chamberlin has pulled together activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs to dive deep into thorny questions around coal, jobs, and climate change. I asked him what he has in mind.

Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana Democrats are saying Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte’s former company ran into tax trouble with Indiana. Republicans say that may be true, but has absolutely nothing to do with Gianforte.

Accusations of financial chicanery are flying in Montana’s U.S. House race.

Rob Quist at a campaign stop at Caras Park in Missoula, March 22, 2017.
Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist is traveling around Montana holding rallies where he emphasizes  his stand on protecting public lands. He's also been in the news for unpaid debts and tax liens on his property.

MTPR's Sally Mauk talks with the nominee about his positions on everything from gun rights to healthcare and what he thinks of President Trump.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

The search for nominees to be Montana’s next top political cop ended this afternoon during a short meeting of legislative leaders.

The majority and minority leaders of the Montana House and Senate approved Jeff Mangan, a former Democratic legislator who owns a consulting firm in Great Falls, to join the Commissioner of Political Practices nominee list.

More than a dozen Fort Peck tribal members and veterans plan to traverse nearly 100 miles across the reservation to raise awareness about the potential dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Courtesy Marina Starr

Hours before the Trump administration issued permits to resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline Friday morning a group on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana set out on a prayer walk to protest the pipeline.

Carole Mackin, a taxpayer from Helena, is escorted out of a hearing room at the Montana Capitol by a sergeant-at-arms Thursday, March 23 after she refused to stop her testimony in support of Senate Bill 305, which would allow mail ballot elections.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

A bill intended to save counties hundreds of thousands of dollars in the upcoming special election for Montana's vacant U.S. House seat brought heated testimony and debate Thursday in the Capitol.

Senate Bill 305 would allow counties the option of running the May 25 election entirely through mail-in-ballots. Great Falls Republican Senator Steve Fitzpatrick introduced his bill to the House Judiciary Committee:

Montana Senate President Scott Sales.
Mike Albans

State lawmakers and Governor Bullock have ended a stalemate over nominees for Montana's next Commissioner of Political Practices. The handshake agreement was reached outside the public hearing process.

Republican Senate President Scott Sales and Democrat Steve Bullock met in the governor's office a little before noon on Wednesday and reached an agreement on a list of nominees to replace Jonathan Motl as Commissioner of Political Practices.

Rob Quist, Democratic candidate for U.S. House speaks during a campaign rally in Missoula on March 22, 2017.
Josh Burnham

About 150 people came to a campaign event in Missoula today for U.S. House Candidate Rob Quist. The Democrat called it a "rally for public lands."

Quist addressed the crowd on a warm, sunny afternoon, wearing his usual cowboy hat:

Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R) are running for Congress in a special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat.
MTPR News

Today news broke that the two major party candidates in Montana's special election for Congress have had tax liens filed against them in the past.

The Associated Press says that, "a group seeking to influence the May 25 special election" gave them information about liens against Democrat Rob Quist. The Democratic Party responded by providing information about Republican Greg Gianforte.

AP Reports Tax Liens Against Quist, Gianforte

Mar 21, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana filed three liens to collect about $15,000 in back taxes from Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist and his wife, Bonni.

The liens were issued in 2015 and cover the 2007, 2011 and 2012 tax years. He settled the debt with the Department of Revenue last May.

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