23 April 2017 — 1941 mdt
Two Flathead legislative seats will be open in 2018. Republican Reps. Steve Lavin (HD-8, Kalispell) and Randy Brodehl (HD-9, Evergreen) are serving their fourth terms. Because of term limits, they cannot be on the ballot for the MT House next year (but Article IV, Section 8(3) of Montana’s constitution allows them to run for a fifth term as write-in candidates).
These are long shot districts for Democrats, but they are not out of range districts, especially in turbulent times. With good candidates, hard work, and a few breaks, these districts might turn blue. Ergo, Democrats should begin recruiting candidates and welcome contested primaries.
Potential candidates should begin raising money now, and walking and, from time-to-time, door knocking, these districts this summer. Democrats should not, incidentally, recruit reluctant, dour, candidates. Voters don’t enjoy voting for candidates who aren’s having fun and don’s radiate hope and joy.
Now is an especially good time for recruiting because the talents of activists are on display as they work to send Rob Quist to Congress. There’ll be plenty of interest among Republicans.
Tammi Fisher, the former mayor of Kalispell who lost to Sen. Mark Blasdel in the 2014 GOP primary for SD-4, is a possibility for HD-8. Taylor Rose, who lost to incumbent Democrat Rep. Zac Perry in HD-3 last November, is a possibility for HD-9.
Seven Flathead legislators cast anal retentive votes on SB-319. Five years ago, Aspen Many Hides came to her Polson High School graduation wearing a mortarboard decorated with beads sewn into by her mother. But just before the grand march began, a school official laid down the law: if you want to be part of the ceremony, the beads must go. And so, with Many Hides weeping, her frantic mother removed the beads.
Thanks to Sen. Jen Gross (D-Billings), that injustice, that act of official sanctioned racial discrimination, won’t happen again in Montana, at least not legally. Friday, 21 April, Gov. Steve Bullock signed into law SB-319, Gross’ bill that explicitly permits “…wearing traditional tribal regalia or objects of cultural significance at a public event … ‘Public event’ means an event held or sponsored by a state agency or a local government, including but not limited to an award ceremony, a graduation ceremony, or a public meeting.” The bill takes effect immediately.
The Flathead’s legislative delegation split on the bill, with three members of the MT House voting Aye, and six voting Nay (full vote: 67–33). In the MT Senate, four of the Flathead’s five senators voted for the measure (full vote: 38–12). Sen. Keith Regier, a former educator and school board member, voted for the bill. His son, Rep. Matt Regier, voted against it.