The brand

After eight years of Bush the Republican brand was dog meat.  Seven years later we’re barely above water.  And we’re going to choose yet another Goddamn Bush as our champion next year?  It’s crazy, and it will not happen.  Everybody says the polls are meaningless at this stage of the cycle, they only show who has name recognition.  And then all you read about is Jeb being the frontrunner in the polls!

For generations the Bushes have been born on third base, and have all believed they were triple hitters.  Jeb’s no exception.  He’s just another Romney, except I kind of liked Romney.  He just didn’t have balls.

W is Jeb’s tar baby.  His record was a disaster, substantively, and politically.  I’ve seen Kasich twice, in Phoenix and Cheyenne, and each time he’s pointed out that when he left D.C in 2000 there were trillions in reserve, and dimwit W blew it all. Every other potential presidential candidate knows what Kasich knows, and Jeb is going to hear about it.  Unless he’s willing to admit that his brother is a dope, he’s in a box.  And he’s not smart enough to get out of it.

I’ll get something like five minutes in front of Judiciary Tuesday morning, and I think that most of what time I have will be devoted to Democrat Zac Perry of Hungry Horse.  I’ll talk about what happens if we have a BBA.  And what Hillary would do.  I’ll tell him that after watching 34 states propose and 38 ratify, Hillary will make a political calculation that maybe she should listen.  Bill would insist on it.  And if Hillary were able to balance the budget, like Bill did, the Democratic Party could be in power for a long time.

I don’t really know what I’ll say.  You’ve got to size up the jury before you decide on your argument.  But these aren’t jurors.  You can really do some fireworks in front of a jury.  But jurors are chosen at random, and every legislator we’ll talk to is a proven political winner.  Being a state legislator is an honor that your community gives you.  Or at least that’s the way most legislators look at it.  And they expect to be treated that way.  And they should be.

When I testify, I’m a supplicant.

Do it again

Natelson won’t make it to Helena due to ill health, so Bill Fruth will make the main argument to the assembled legislators on Monday.  I’ll be there as well, just like Wyoming.

Wyoming is our inspiration.  People in Montana can’t be more conservative than people in Wyoming. It wouldn’t make sense.  Six weeks ago we didn’t even have a sponsor in Wyoming, and the NFIB lobbyist there said we didn’t really have much of a chance.  We won 44-16.  All we have to do is replicate in Montana what we did in Wyoming.  A piece of cake.

The more I’m learning, the better I feel about our chances in committee.  Freshman Zac Perry is a committee Democrat from Hungry Horse, just north of Bigfork.  He won with 42% of the vote running against a libertarian Republican and Libertarian.  This dude is vulnerable, and he knows it.  Does he align himself, on this issue, with the Birchers and the Democrats or with the conservative and moderate Republicans?  His brief voting record so far is what you’d expect from someone from this part of Montana.  I think we can get Zac.  I look forward to having a good conversation with him.  He even looks like a good guy, someone I could be comfortable talking to.  My son Brendan will start ginning up calls from his constituents tomorrow.  We have a real shot at this guy.  And I think we’ll get Theresa Manzella as well.  Her district is crawling with Birchers, but she’s not one herself.  They’re just the only constituents she’s heard from on this.

We may argue and lobby our way past the committee, but to win on the floor it’s going to take strong support from the public.  I’m going to try to get the press really interested in this story.  Matthew says they love writing stories about fights inside the Republican caucus.  This is a fight between normal Republicans and kool-aid Republicans, so it will appeal to them.  It’s got national implications, as I’ll explain to the reporters.  It’s Montana or bust for the BBA.  Hell, Kasich was just there pushing it.  It involves an issue, federal spending, which a lot of people care about.  Article V itself is a little exotic.  The army of Birchers we’re expecting at the hearing adds some local color.  I hope they all come dressed in camo, as members of the Montana Militia.  I hope they’re armed.  I hope they issue threats.  If I was a little younger I wouldn’t mind some fisticuffs with these whack jobs, as long as it was on camera.

I get carried away.


South Dakota House, 38-31.  We counted on Hal Wick, and he came through.  Wyoming House, 44-16.  A lot bigger margin than we were expecting.  Very, very encouraging.  We’re confident of Senate passage in both, so we will soon need only eight more.

I spoke today with Idaho House Ways and Means Chair Christy Perry, who will be taking point.  She asked for a couple things, which we sent her.  Idaho adjourns in about two months, so the pressure is on.  She thinks we need to shoot it quickly through the House, and then take up the main fight in the Senate.  Speaker Bedke has made this a priority bill for House leadership, so we should be OK there.  NFIB lobbyist Suzi Budge has maintained all along that the House will be a lot easier than the Senate.  Bill Fruth says he’s willing to go to Boise with Natelson, so we’ll need to set that up, along with everything else we’re doing in Montana.  If the Wyoming vote is a sign of things to come, we could get Idaho this year.  Palin could help, and would, I believe, if we could get a chance to make our case to her.

Until we get through Montana, it will remain our top priority.  Fruth and Natelson are teaming up in the Capitol at noon on Monday.  That’s our best shot.

Virginia’s starting to look interesting.  We’re out of committee in both Houses, and may get floor votes as early as Friday.  The House looks within reach.  The Senate is a throw of the dice.  If by some chance we could steal Virginia it would be a shocker, and a sign of major momentum behind this whole movement.

Getting it done in 2015 was always a long shot.  It could still happen, but only if we get major support, and quickly.  From a partisan Republican standpoint, 2015 is massively better than 2016.  If we do it in 2015 there will be an actual proposed amendment which the Democrat would have to take a stand on.  If it’s 2016 the Democrat can say she’ll keep an open mind until she sees what’s actually proposed.  So if there were any really smart Republicans out there, who had money, they’d be climbing aboard.

It’s amazing how dumb some of these rich guys are.  Foster Friess, bankrolling Santorum?  Sheldon Adelson, backing Gingrich?  They get behind some of the most politically idiotic things you can think of.  It makes you wonder how they made all their money.

There’s got to be one smart one.


36 in South Dakota, 31 in Wyoming.  We’re up for final passage in the House in both, and those are the votes we need.  The first big test.  We’re pretty much a lock in South Dakota, and look strong in the Senate as well.  Wyoming is an open question.  If we get the House, we will get the Senate, no doubt.  Bill Fruth and I met a lot of these Representatives in Cheyenne last week, and they certainly seemed open to our arguments.  But the Birchers will be spreading wild conspiracy and end of times theories, and you never know.  I’d be severely disappointed in these people if they fall for it.  We’ll see.

In Montana the vote we need to get out of Judiciary is Theresa Manzella, from Hamilton, fifteen miles east of the Idaho border, and the Continental Divide.  It’s rugged and beautiful country.   She’s a horse woman, and moved from back East to be in real horse country.  A proud, patriotic American.  But she drank the kool-aid.  My son Brendan is calling voters in her district from Bozeman tonight.  He’ll ask them to call her and ask for her vote.  I checked the phone number she lists in the Legislative Directory to make sure it worked, and she picked up.

I know one phone call she could get that would bring her around.

From Sarah Palin.

Doane and Manzella

We need one of the two or we won’t get out of the Montana House Judiciary Committee.  Matthew Monforton is counting on Natelson to bring them around, but Rob caught a bug in Pierre and won’t be in Helena next week as planned.  We’ve been scrambling all day to figure out a new plan, and it’s in the works.  Fruth will also give his highly persuasive pitch, and I saw in Cheyenne that it can turn votes.

I’ve reached out to Sarah Palin through an old friend from the Alaska Legislature, Jerry Ward.  He tells me he’ll get my proposal to her, and that’s all I can ask.  Alan Doane is from rural northeast Montana, Teresa Manzella is from the rural southwest Montana.  People from these parts of the country love Sarah Palin.  She reminds them of them.  If she’ll agree to a 30 second robocall, I’d bet the farm that it motivates people to write or call their Representative to support HJ 4.  Jerry may have trouble getting through to her, since she just told the WaPo she’s interested in running for President.  She’s probably being overwhelmed with reaction to her statement.  But Jerry will get through.  He’s one of those guys who does what he says he’ll do.

Utah convenes tomorrow, so I’ll need to start working with Kraig Powell.  It will be a fight all the way, just like Montana and Wyoming.

Idaho is another place I’ll need to check on.  Kasich was there Friday, and may have helped kick start things.  He was on Fox News Sunday today, and was on his game.  He talked about the BBA, and how it would be good if we had a convention  — a learning experience for young people.  He did not, thankfully, downplay our chances or say he hopes an Amendment Convention would be avoided by Congress passing a BBA itself.  Neither statement is helpful.

Kasich handles himself as well or better than anyone else in the field.  That’s good for us.  The more attention people pay to him, the more opportunity he’ll have to promote the BBA.

Bill McIlvain will be working the halls in Wyoming next week.  We went over our list of targets together today, and it sure seems to us that he, Tyler and Dan should be able to get to 31.  South Dakota #25, Wyoming #26.

That would be sweet.