Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feeling blue in Montana? The strange case of Libertarian Senatorial candidate Stan Jones. . . .

When we're talking about the potential of Libertarians to affect the balance of power in key states--perhaps even to win an election--then we have to talk about Stan Jones in Montana.

Before we actually talk about Stan, let's have Nolan Chart explain the political situation in Montana:

He [Stan Jones] has previously been nominated by the Libertarian Party for Governor and for Senator. In 2006, he received over ten thouusand votes in a race where the Democratic candidate, John Tester, defeated two term Republican Senator Conrad Burns by less than three thousand votes. This year he has been nominated again for Senator by the party. This year he might well lead the Libertarians to an impressive showing and could bring other Libertarian candidates with him.

Mr Jones will be opposing Democratic Senator Max Baucus, who is seeking his eighth term in the Senate. The Republican Party, in a crowded primary, nominated Bob Kelleher, an octogenarian who has been running for office in Montana for the past forty years. Mr. Kelleher began his political life as a Democrat, has run as a candidate of the Green Party and in the last few years has sought office as a Republican. With six candidates in the race, Mr.Kelleher, who supports a single payer federal health care program but takes conservative positons on other issues, won with 36% of the vote.

Republican party officials have said that they will support Kelleher as the party's nominee, but have indicated their lack of enthusiasm. On June 11, Patty Lovaas, one of the candidates defeated in the primary, announced that she was circulating a petition to be on the ballot as an independent candidate. Informed that the government says that it is too late to qualify for the ballot, she has talked about instituting a lax suit.([link edited for length]). She has not indicated whether she will run as a write-in candidate if she is denied a place on the ballot.

And then, on Saturday, State Representative Michael Lange, who finished third in the primary, appeared with Anton Pearson, one of his opponents in the primary, to announce that he was launching a write-in campaign for the Senate seat and Mr. Pearson would be acting as his campaign manager. Things keep looking better for Mr. Jones.([link edited for length])

Can Stan Jones defeat Max Baucus this year? Probably not. Probably nobody can. But he can probably finish ahead of a Republican candidate who says that Baucus is too conservative and a gaggle of primary losers running as write in candidates. He could easily be the candidate who finishes second. The Republican Party in Montana is in obvious disarray, the party's candidate for president is not popular with the party, although he did win the primary after he had achieved a majority of the delegates to the national convention. But in that primary, Ron Paul won 22% of the vote. If the national Libertarian Party gives some support to Stan Jones, and if the national candidates campaign with him, the Libertarian Party might establish itself as at least the second strongest party in the state.

Stan, I should point out, is not a politically correct Libertarian (if there could be said to be such a thing), as the Washington Post notes:

He is a perennial loser in Montana politics, a kind of Harold Stassen of the interior West, a fringe candidate who sometimes has to sue to get invited to television debates. He is also a man who accidentally turned his skin blue by drinking a homemade antibiotic laced with silver.

He first took the medicine in 1999, he said, fearing that the year 2000 would wreck computers, spread terrorism and disease, and make prescribed antibiotics unavailable. He concedes now that he miscalculated.

Jones granted an interview at the Leaf & Bean coffeehouse on Main Street in Bozeman and later at the nearby Academy of Cosmetology, where he sometimes gets cheap haircuts and where the fluorescent lighting brings out the blue in his face.

One of the students at the academy, Jessica Wagner, recalled that the first time she approached Jones to cut his hair, she caught a glimpse of him in a barber's chair and thought: "Oh, my God, he's dead." Over time, she said, she grew accustomed to his face and found him to be "really a neat guy."

Aside from being a little blue, Nolan Chart concludes,

As a Libertarian, Stan Jones is not everybody's ideal. He is a Conservative Libertarian, primarily focused on economic liberty. He makes no secret of his opposition to abortion and to same sex marriage. All of this limits his chances of having universal support from Libertarians.

Here's Stan in the flesh (although not too blue) from last year:

All of this raises an interesting question: should I be supporting Stan Jones for Montana Senate?

We agree on almost nothing: comparatively speaking, Ron Paul, Bob Barr and I are at one with the universe.

But then, consider the alternatives.

The Republican nominee is Bob Kelleher, who has run previously as a Democrat and a Green, and whose single issue is . . . the replacement of Congress by an American parliament. NOT kidding.

Defeated by Kelleher is Patty Lovass, now considering an independent run:

This is my contribution to society. I believe I have the talent to help steer the country in a different direction. My expertise in fiscal management is greatly needed at this point in our country’s history. I know the issues.

I live and work with them every day as a certified public accountant.

Patty's only major issue seems to be increased tax exemptions for small businesses.

Or another potential independent-former-GOPer Michael Lange, whose own party apparently can't stand him:

Lange said he believes he can overcome some political baggage he picked up this spring.

In mid-May, Lange was ousted as House majority leader by his fellow House Republicans unhappy with his leadership. Lange said he has spoken to most fellow House Republicans since and asked them to consider supporting his candidacy for the Senate, although he stopped short of asking for formal endorsements.

At a House Republican caucus in late April, Lange unleashed a profanity-laced tirade at Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Lange told Schweitzer to “stick it” twice in his rant, which was covered extensively by the media. The television footage aired around Montana and nationally and on an Internet site,, drawing widespread condemnation.

In Montana, politics is . . . a little unusual:

Representatives of the gay community demanded an apology today [February 2008] from U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana over a prank involving an Idaho congressman.

Last month, Rehberg reportedly placed a package on the airplane seat of fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho during a Middle East congressional delegation trip. The package included a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it, books on cross-dressing and sign language, a Village People compact disc and a T-shirt apparently referencing the Sen. Larry Craig scandal, according to The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper.

Rehberg's spokesman Bridger Pierce said today "no offense was intended."

And Democratic incumbent Max Baucus is hardly a prize. Here's his take on national defense:

I plan to continue to support the ongoing modernization of the ICBMs. There are currently 10 different modernization plans for the 150 Minuteman III ICBMs at Malmstrom. I've supported efforts to speed up some of these programs in order to keep the base's mission strong and secure. I'll ensure the Montana National Guard is getting what it needs to do its mission. I’m fighting for everything from improved pay for the troops to helping the Guard obtain the best equipment possible. I co-sponsored The National Guard Empowerment Act, passed along with this year’s Defense Authorization bill, which establishes a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and expands the role of the NG Bureau in facilitating and coordinating the use of Guard personnel and resources for contingency operations, military operations other than war, natural disasters, and support of civil authorities....

Frankly, I think too little attention is given to the great responsibility that Montana bears to secure the Northern Border....

Fighting Terrorism

In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I've vigorously supported legislation to make defense officials better equipped to combat terrorism.

Each year through the Defense Appropriations bill, I fight to bring millions of dollars to help make Montana more secure. You can bet that I'll continue to push for funding for Montana’s outstanding projects. The fiscal year 2006 Defense Appropriations bill included $80 million in federal funds for Montana. The fiscal year 2007 Defense Appropriations bill included $28.5 million for Montana. I was proud to help secure over $30 million in the 2008 Defense Appropriations bill....

Can we say, "Pork!" anyone?

Max is so principled that he doesn't even mention Iraq on his entire website.

So I'm thinking that maybe when in Missoula. . . ?

The world is a very weird place, sometimes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stan Jones is running for Governor in 2008, not Senate.