Zinke’s Desperation on Gun Rights is Showing

By Montana Street Fighter, on October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Montana has always been a state where second amendment rights and gun ownership are top issues. It means being able to protect yourself. It means hunting for elk in the Missouri Breaks or pheasants outside Scobey or, heck, even shooting some cans for target practice.

Recently, you might have seen the Montana GOP and Ryan Zinke desperately attack John Lewis on gun issues. These attacks are blatantly false. John Lewis has an A from the NRA and is a staunch supporter of gun rights; whereas, Ryan Zinke has a meager 42% lifetime rating – a failing grade.

It’s also important to note that Zinke hasn’t received much support from gun owners, or his fellow Republicans when it comes to the right to bear arms.

Ryan, do you have a license for that?

Ryan, do you have a license for that?

While lately Rick Hill has been a good spineless Republican and fallen inline to endorse Zinke’s candidacy, he was singing a different tune during the primary.  Hill lambasted Zinke for being anti-gun amongst his many other flip-flops.  Hill, a former Congressman and the GOP’s latest candidate for governor, repeatedly voiced his concern with Ryan Zinke’s record on gun rights.

And this guy is your friend?

And this guy is your friend?

GOP leaders aren’t the only ones attacking Zinke for his poor record on the 2nd amendment. Even the National Association for Gun Rights has called out Zinke for voting against the interests of gun owners.

Gun Rights 1

Ryan Zinke is desperately attempting to make inroads with a skeptical GOP base. But these attempts won’t work. The GOP base doesn’t trust Zinke except when it comes to baring his own arms (literally).

Zinke Shirtless

Not quite the right to bear arms that Montanans were thinking of

What Ryan Zinke wasn’t during Billing debate?

By Montana Street Fighter, on October 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

So, due to technical difficulties it took an extra day, but we were finally able to listen to the Montana House debate.  We are left to wonder if maybe we could have watched it on TV if Ryan Zinke hadn’t waited till 5 pm on the Friday before the debate to agree to face Montana voters.  But hey, only an honorable candidate would agree to a debate in a reasonable timetable, so we really didn’t expect much from Ryan.

It was a pretty uneventful debate; Ryan Zinke did his best cha-cha while dancing around pretty simple questions and also managed to flip-flop on both his primary debate stances and some of his state legislature votes.  We don’t know any “proud to be Pro-life” candidates who get as high as a 65% from NARAL Pro Choice.  But we understand, when you flip-flop as much as Ryan it’s hard to keep your old record straight from your new record.

With Zinke fleeing right after the debate for hotter and dustier pastures of Texas it left us thinking about what questions we wish Zinke would have been asked.  We thought up our top 5 questions we wish Ryan Zinke had been asked.  Not that he would have answered them though, but hey voters can dream right?

  1. With your 0% rating from the Montana Sportsmen Alliance and in light of your recent fundraiser with the Dallas Safari Club, do you plan to fight for privatizing of public lands and create a hunting situation like in Texas were folks have to pay over six figures just to hunt some animals in a fenced in yard?
  2. Since the era of the Copper Kings, Montanans have made it clear they don’t want folks buying seats in Congress.  As the founder and former Chairman of a super PAC—SOFA PAC (which we assume funnels dark money for pro-furniture candidates)—how do you plan to address the dark money problem in Montana politics?
  3. 72% of your campaign funds have come from out-of-state donors, and you yourself were quoted as saying, “money drives message.”  How can Montanans trust you to go to bat for their interests when you are funded by out-of-state interests?
  4. Speaking of campaign funds—Mr. Zinke, you’re campaign is $83K in debt.  How can Montanans expect you to balance the federal budget, or reduce the deficit, when you’re campaign is that far in debt?
  5. You’re very fond of your bumper sticker length foreign policy phrase “I’d rather fight ISIS in the deserts of Iraq than in the streets of New York” but how do you suggest we pay for yet another Middle East war? Are you willing to send Montana’s kids back to the Middle East when many of them just got home?

Maybe Zinke will have a chance to answer these questions during Saturday’s debate.  We’re hoping he will because Montanans deserve to know. But more likely he will say whatever appeases his special interest backers.

Romney Endorses Zinke: Quid Pro Bro

By Montana Street Fighter, on September 29, 2014 | 1 Comment

Maybe we are old-fashioned, but $180,000 just doesn’t get you what it used to.  For Ryan Zinke all it got him was this lousy endorsement from his bro Mitt Romney!

We know you’ve heard the story before but in 2012, Zinke created SOFA PAC—a dark money group that can spend limitless amounts of unreported money—and spent over $180K to get Mitt Romney elected and maybe help a certain someone run for office in 2014 (cough, cough, Ryan Zinke).  More on Zinke’s assistance from SOFA can be found here, here and here.

Now that the dust has settled on Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid and Zinke’s campaign is in full force, it seems Zinke gave a call to the man he wasn’t allowed to coordinate with in 2012 and asked for a return on his investment.

The Zinke campaign proudly announced Mitt’s endorsement and are even going to feature him on a couple of radio ads.

With a face like that you’d think it’d be a TV ad!

With a face like that you’d think it’d be a TV ad!

We think over $180K would at least get Ryan a free t-shirt.  But beggars can’t be choosers and the Zinke campaign is strapped for cash, so we imagine he’s calling in all of his favors to those non-406 phone numbers.

The Massachusetts millionaire has joined a laundry list of out-of-state special interests who are trying to get Ryan Zinke elected to Congress.  With 72% of his campaign cash coming from out-of-staters, it’s clear Zinke is not looking to represent Montana, he’s looking to represent the person with the biggest pocketbook.

We at least think this gives a good explanation for Zinke’s constant flip-flopping and 42% lifetime rating from the NRA.  Rich Massachusetts’s millionaires or California billionaire’s don’t understand Montana’s outdoor heritage; so they pay Ryan not to understand it either.

Which out-of-state millionaire will be the next person to throw the broke Zinke campaign a gold-plated lifeline?  Your guess is as good as ours. What issue will Zinke have to change his mind on next to get that sweet-sweet cash? No idea, but he’s running out of issues to flip-flop on.

Ryan Zinke Drinks His Feelings after only an A- from the NRA

By Montana Street Fighter, on September 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Today Ryan Zinke took a break from flying to California and packing his 10-gallon hats, and Cowboys Jersey—number 9 Tony Romo—for his big Texas-sized fundraising adventure to have a drink and play a little Big Buck Hunter.

Why would a beer be necessary at just after noon on a Friday?  Well Mr. Zinke just received his grade from the NRA.  The NRA gave Zinke an A-, not quiet good enough to put up on the fridge at the Zinke household.

drinky zinke

Guys the NRA never calls on me!

But Zinke shouldn’t have too many cervezas, in-fact, he should be proud of his A minus.  This is a big improvement for a guy who’s had more positions on gun control than beers on tap at a brewery.

Just take a look at Project Vote Smart’s report card for Zinke, definitely not fridge material for a guy who wants to represent Montana.

Put down the drink and buck up Ryan! You’re improving!

In 2008, Zinke also received a 0% rating from the Montana Sportsmen Alliance.   A big fat 0, I bet Zinke went for the hard stuff after that one.

While Zinke is probably upset by his A- rating he really should be happy the fine folks at the NRA forgot about his voting record in the state Senate.

So cheers Ryan!   Yet again you have shown Montana that you will say anything that is politically beneficial, regardless of your actual views on the issue!

Top 10 Zinke Campaign Incompetencies

By Montana Street Fighter, on September 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s campaign season in Montana.  That means that both the Democrats and Republicans ramp up their operations, hire new staff, churn out press releases, knock on doors, send out tweets, fundraise and update the Facebooks.

Unfortunately for the Zinke campaign (or fortunately for Montana’s sake), these tasks have been a struggle. Zinke and his campaign team have struggled with incompetence and spent the 2014 election cycle stumbling from blunder to blunder. Now, we’ll be the first to admit that campaigns can be tough – late nights, early mornings. But if Zinke can’t even do the basics to keep his campaign on it’s feet, how can we expect him to run a congressional office?

Here are our favorite Zinke blunders of the season so far:

Zinke’s campaign funds run dry.   For a man running on the idea that he could help balance the budget he sure has trouble balancing his own campaign budget.  Zinke had to make a personal loan to his campaign to keep it afloat.  While we know Zinke has some rich buddies I don’t think that’s going to work at the Congressional level.  Maybe he could ask his millionaire buddy Daines to spot him?

Campaign spokeswoman talks about violating election law.  “Zinke’s spokeswoman, Shelby DeMars said, ‘There is no relationship between SOFA PAC and Zinke. We can’t coordinate right now…’” The problem for Shelby—and the super-PAC Zinke founded—is that candidates and super PACs are never allowed to coordinate.  It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of federal law.  But this should come as no surprise as Zinke has exploited the post-Citizens United world to create a super PAC, run the super PAC, quit the super PAC, and then have your old super PAC support your campaign, without coordination (wink wink).

Zinke Ditches Missoula Media to Head to Cali. This one seems like a pretty moderate oversight, but the whole story paints a picture of incompetence.  Zinke tweeted that he was going out on the campaign trail at 5 am in Missoula.  But he was really heading to the airport, jet-setting off to California for another out of state fundraiser.  We imagine he was on the 630 am, probably first class.

Zinke takes credit for Bin Laden raid that occurred 3 years after he retired.  If you somehow haven’t heard, Ryan Zinke once was commander of SEAL Team Six.  Well, Zinke tried to get some money for work he did not do.  His campaign sent out an e-mail with the subject line, “Who killed Osama bin Laden?”  When people pointed out that the answer was, “sure as heck not Ryan Zinke” he said, “If you read it carefully it does not say that I killed bin Laden.”   And we all know how intently we read political fundraiser e-mails.

A formal complaint is filed against Zinke with the Federal Election Commission.   The Campaign Legal Center filed a formal complaint against Zinke and Zinke for Congress sighting perceived illegal coordination between Zinke’s old gig—SOFA PAC and his new gig—Zinke for Congress.

Zinke posts campaign signs in Santa Barbara California.  In what we can only assume was a quest for all that out-of-state money Zinke needs for his campaign and for that pivotal surfer dude voter bloc, Zinke placed his campaign yard signs in a suburb of Santa Barbara.  The Californians were understandably confused and complained about the signs for this Zinke character ruining their ocean views.

Zinke agreed to debate in Billings, then says just kidding got to go to Texas.  Zinke gave Montana voters a new variation on the famous Davy Crockett quote, “You may go to hell and I will go to Texas.”   Zinke bailed on a debate that has been going on in Yellowstone County for years.  His campaign couldn’t check the schedule and find another time to go get some of that good out-of-state oil money.

Zinke couldn’t play nice—even with friends.  Three different former Montana GOP chairmen campaigned against Zinke in the GOP primary for being “pro-choice”. In addition, representative from the Montana Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee called Zinke out for his stance on choice. How did Zinke respond? He called them “liars.” Calling folks liars seems like an odd way to build relationships and trust.

A formal complaint—yes another one—is filed against Zinke.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but some folks were worried that Ryan Zinke was coordinating with his old employer, SOFA PAC.  This complaint cited the fact that both Zinke for Congress and SOFA PAC were using the same researcher, Lester Cooper, at the same time.  I wonder if Lester ever accidently mixed up his portfolios for Zinke for Congress and the one from the super-PAC supporting Zinke’s bid for Congress?

Zinke campaign has a little trouble spelling.   Now this one is probably the most harmless but it does stand to reason, if a man can’t handle his spelling, can he really handle his firearms? While Zinke got a B- from the NRA, he definitely got a D in spelling.

Daines Celebrates Do Nothing Congress

By Montana Street Fighter, on September 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Maybe it was a celebration of his reversal of philosophy on shutting down the government. Maybe it was a celebration for being part of the most unproductive and dysfunctional Congress in history.  Or maybe he was just waiting for his pal Ted Cruz. Either way Congressman Daines sat down and enjoyed a burger and some fries at the Capitol Hill watering hole Union Pub while his do-nothing Congress continued to, well…do nothing.image

Congress let itself off the hook last week and won’t be coming back until after election season.  Congressman Daines did give us a few last votes that would show us what kind of Senator he’d be.

Daines voted for his land-grab bill that we can only assume was written in a smoke-filled backroom somewhere in Washington DC.  The bill, which Daines so affectionately loves, is despised in the Montana outdoors community.  18—yes—18 different Montana groups sent Daines a letter questioning why Daines did include them in writing a bill that directly affects Montana forests and outdoors enthusiasts.

Daines also used one of his last votes of year to block an amendment—supported by both other members of the Montana delegation—that would remove dark money from elections.  Montanans over the years have made it clear, “WE DON’T LIKE MONEY IN POLITICS”.   Yet, Daines has chosen time and again to ignore the constituents he claims to represent. The Congressman probably thinks the $30 million—that was spent on the Senate race alone in 2012—is chump change.  And maybe it is for a gazillionaire like Daines.

Even though Daines has done nothing but vote against the interests of Montana during his time in the most hated Congress in U.S. history, we hope he, at least, tipped his server well.

ACA Misconceptions

By Montana Street Fighter, on July 9, 2014 | 3 Comments

The far right is starting to make noise about the “rising costs” of the ACA, more commonly referred to as “ObamaCare.”  Some liberal Democrats from states like New York have joined the chorus, as well.

Their complaints are somewhat misguided.  The ACA is, in part, a victim of its own success – especially when it comes to spending.

Many readers of this blog are advocates of a single-payer system, but the fact of the matter is that that is not what we got with the ACA.  The simplest goal of the ACA was to give millions of Americans access to healthcare insurance and the ACA did just that.

However, more access, also means more spending – of course.  People that have never had access to healthcare before are now able to spend on much needed healthcare procedures, check-ups, etc.

More healthcare spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing: people are finally getting the healthcare they need.

This means that the health insurance industry is now being forced to shift to a world where more Americans get healthcare and spend money to stay healthy – and, yes, that might mean an increase in premiums until we get medical costs under control.

The ACA has increased access and expanded coverage, but ratees will continue to rise until our Representatives and Senators take action to control underlying medical costs that have nothing to do with insurance companies.

One healthcare policy expert in New York got it just about right when she said, “maybe this is a wake-up call that we need to shift to making medical care affordable and not just available.”

When medical costs go down (not spending), premiums will follow, but don’t expect Washington to do anything anytime soon.

Veterans Speak Out Against Daines’ False Attacks

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

A group of veterans supporting Sen. John Walsh’s reelection campaign have called on Steve Daines to stop airing his new ad, which attacks Walsh on his military career, and which they say is misleading and dishonest. Daines continues to run false attacks against Sen. Walsh, despite unconvincingly thanking him for his military service during their debate last weekend.

Daines’ attack ads (big shocker here) are a pretty thinly-veiled attempt to distract from his record of consistently voting against measures to support military men and women. In fact just today, at the same time he launched this ad, Daines voted against funding for prevention of military sexual assault, and against funding to help soldiers with PTSD.

Congressman Daines can’t have it both ways. He makes false attacks on Senator Walsh, while himself voting to hurt Montanans that have served their country. Voters will see through that pretty quickly though.

#MTPOL Debate Debrief – Walsh, Lewis Come out on Top

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

 

Senate DebateHouse Debate

 

This past Saturday, Democrats’ and Republicans’ nominees for the U.S. Senate and House races, as well as both Libertarian candidates, squared off in the first debates of the general election. They were hosted by the Montana Newspaper Association and Montana PBS, before a packed auditorium at the Montana Tech campus in Butte.

Some folks say that the best a candidate can hope for in a debate is to not mess up, but this time, Lewis and Walsh very clearly stood out as the better candidates. While the debate sponsors and moderators did not officially declare winners, a number of online polls told a story of strong victories for both of the Democratic nominees, and lackluster performances by both Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke. Jackie Brown over at the Western Word conducted online surveys right after both debates, with 72% of respondents saying Lewis won the House debate and 76% saying Walsh won on the Senate side, and the Great Falls Tribune’s online debate poll had Walsh winning with 53% to Daines’ 24%. Here’s our brief analysis of each of the debates:

 

U.S. Senate Debate

Senator Walsh led off his debate win by using his first question as an opportunity to recognize that the debates were taking place on Flag Day, thanking those who have served in the military, and leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Throughout the debate, Walsh gave a strong performance, making Daines’ low-energy delivery look even worse. Walsh highlighted his leadership experience in the military, talked about accomplishments during his time as Lieutenant Governor, and his support for equal pay, among other issues.

Daines came across as very insincere, and didn’t do much to sound like anything other than a typical TEA Party politician (big surprise there). Sure, he pretended to be friendly, thanking Sen. Walsh for his military service, but it’s pretty hard to believe he means it when at the same time the Daines campaign is running ads criticizing Walsh’s time with the National Guard.

Libertarian Roger Roots was fairly energetic, and likely appealed to some in the far right wing of the Republican Party.

 

U.S.House Debate

On the House side, there was a bit of a social media frenzy that began before the debate, lasting throughout, and Ryan Zinke pretty clearly lost on that front. Before the debate even started, the #MTPOL Twitter hashtag (as well as the brand-new #ZinkeWaffle hashtag) was a frenzy of activity, filled examples of Zinke’s flip-flopping on issues, and pictures of an anti-Zinke display outside of the event venue, which highlighted Zinke’s tendency to frequently change his positions when it’s politically convenient:

Zinke Waffle

As for the debate itself, Zinke suffered from the same problem that Daines had in the Senate debate. He sounded insincere, and just spouted the same talking points he used throughout his primary. No doubt that’s because Zinke is worried about convincing the nearly 2/3 of Republican primary voters that didn’t support him, and will probably continue his run to the right just to shore up the support of his own party. At one point, Zinke talked openly about being beholden to oil companies.

John Lewis on the other hand, had a great delivery, and drew a clear contrast between himself and Zinke. He focused a lot on rural Montana issues, and talked about his strong support for programs like Medicare, while Zinke continued to express support for the Ryan Budget. The Western Word rated Lewis as the best debater of the day.

Libertarian and perennial Montana candidate Mike Fellows gave more or less the standard line, talking about doing away with a long list of government agencies and programs.

 

Both Democratic nominees outdid their opponents by a long shot, less than two weeks out from the primary, Montana voters are already getting a clear picture of the choices they’ll have in November.

 

Primary Recap: GOP Walks Away Bruised, Divided

By Montana Street Fighter, on June 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Yesterday’s primary election had a number of important takeaways and implications for the upcoming general. Here’s a quick rundown of what the results mean for November.

More than anything, last night’s results reenforced the same theme we’ve seen over and over again. Republicans are divided. In the GOP House primary, Zinke emerged with a narrow margin in what amounted to a very tight three way race. That’s after he spent nearly every dollar he’d raised so far, and was repeatedly attacked by former colleagues from the legislature and high-profile party leaders, who claimed that his ideas are not those of the Republican Party. He may have squeaked out the primary, but there is clearly a large segment of Republicans that don’t want to see Zinke in office. With that lack of enthusiasm, look for many Republicans to sit this one out to avoid voting for an unpalatable candidate, or even cross the party line in the Fall.

And the same goes for the senate race. While Congressman Daines won his contest by a very wide margin, those numbers should be looked at in the right perspective as well. Yes, he won handily, but nearly 20% of Republican primary voters chose Champ Edmunds or Susan Cundiff over him. That may not make for a close race, but it does say a bit about Daines and his party. Despite the fact that Daines has already spent huge sums on his campaign and on television ads to boost his image, nearly 1 in 5 Republicans still opted for one of his completely unknown opponents.

On the Democratic side, both Senator John Walsh and John Lewis won their matchups with large margins as well. The difference here being, that both of them were running against relatively well-known former elected officials, and still managed strong margins of victory. A blowout is easy when your opponents are no-names and you have a couple million dollars to spend on TV. It’s another story to win so decisively against candidates that voters know.

The moral of the story is that Republicans have still not changed their playbook one bit. They fracture, split, and attack each other, and can’t seem to agree on much of anything. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.