A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

3 January 2018 — 1118 mst

Tom Woods ends quest for Congress on a terrible note


Yesterday, State Rep. Tom Woods (Bozeman) ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, citing fundraising difficulties. His decision was not a surprise, Logicosity reported. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s Freddy Morales:

Woods told the Chronicle that running for a congressional seat is a “rich man’s game.” It’s an “arms race,” he said, and if you don’t raise enough money, you don’t hire the right people, you will be beat.

“To continue to go forward would put me in debt,” Woods said.

I’m not fully convinced that running for Congress is a rich man’s game, but I am convinced that it’s an early bird’s game. Woods entered the race in mid-October. His chief rival for progressive votes, John Heenan, announced in August. State legislators tend to get late starts when they first run for statewide office.

Woods evidently prefers John Heenan, but has not formally endorsed him. In a statement evidently posted on Facebook, and quoted at The Montana Post by Nathan Kosted, Woods said:

Please take heart in the fact that there are still good candidates for the democratic side the ticket. One of them, John Heenan, has very similar progressive issue positions to me on healthcare reform, human rights, raising the minimum wage and fighting corporate money in politics.

Morales reports Woods probably will file for a fourth, and last term, for House District 62, where he ran unopposed in 2016, and may run for the Public Service Commission seat now occupied by Roger Koopman, who will be termed-out in 2020. PSC commissioners receive six-figure salaries.

But according to The Last Best News, Woods, in his press release, said that being a state legislator was a "terrible job." That witless remark could draw a primary challenge from a Democrat who thinks serving as a state representative is an honor and a good job.

Woods departure from the race leaves John Heenan and Grant Kier as the candidates most likely to win the nomination. Both are raising enough money to prosecute strong campaigns. Heenan, who takes forthright stands on the issues, will appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters. Kier, who pussyfoots around the issues, will appeal to fans of Hillary Clinton.

Former state representative Kathleen Williams (Bozeman), former state senator Lynda Moss (Billings), and attorney Jared Pettinato (Bozeman) remain candidates for the nomination. None is getting much traction. Moss still does not have an issues page on her website.

Kosted noted that some people want State Rep. Jenny Eck (Helena) to run, and that there was talk of runs by former legislator Jesse Laslovich, and by Zeno Baucus, son of Max (who reportedly is sitting on a megapot of money that could help Zeno). It’s too late for Eck, who probably will run for a fourth term from House District 79, where she ran unopposed in 2016, and for Laslovich, who lost to Matt Rosendale in the 2016 election for Montana State Auditor. Baucus may have the resources to mount a credible campaign, but my sources report he’s being groomed for Montana Attorney General, an open office in 2020.

Democrats believe that incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte, who recently won Talking Points Memo’s Golden Duke award for “Best Scandal — Local Venue,” — congratulations, Greg — may be vulnerable if the 2018 election becomes a Throw the Republicans Bums Out affair. That’s possible. But Gianforte, the richest member of Congress, won’t lack for money, and will be a formidable candidate even if the turnout of Democrats is high and the Golden Duke punches down his popularity.