July Newsletter

 Montana Progressive Democrats Newsletter

 July 2018

                     

 

 

UPDATE: MtPD well represented at state Democratic platform convention

Montana Progressive Democrats advanced five planks at the Montana Democratic platform convention with some success. A summary of the convention can be found here. A special thank you to MtPD board members who attended and advanced progressive planks and ideas: Linda Gillison, Barb Merrifield and Sue Tarpey from Missoula; Andy Boyd, Bozeman; and Jennifer Merecki, Billings. We were joined by other progressives from around the state, many of them offering up like-minded planks. An informal get-together at the legendary Sip ‘n Dip followed Friday’s committee meetings.

The left wing of the possible

Former chair and a founding member of MtPD, Suzy Tarpey, had some thoughts on the convention.

“By not having a strong and gutsy platform, the MT Democratic Party is disenfranchising progressive Millennials, Democratic Socialists and environmentalists who otherwise might get involved in the Party. By pandering to the right we are losing the left. We could have a much larger base and be a stronger, united party.”

She then asked a strategic platform question, “What do Progressives need to do?” Pausing, she answered, “We need to have a stronger strategy that is planned well in advance of the next platform convention with like-minded Democrats across the state. We need to hone our talking points and get all Progressives and MtPD delegates using them. MtPD needs to do outreach, not just to the party, but to left-leaning organizations and groups.”

Suzy had a final question: “What are some other ideas we can use to push a progressive Democratic platform in MT?”

For that we turn to you, members and associates. What are your thoughts? Join our Facebook site and chime in: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557345167904445/

By the way, the headline for this piece came from a New Yorker article on progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s big congressional primary win in New York City. It is credited to Michael Harrington, a founder of the Democratic Socialists of America and was used to sum up Ocasio-Cortez’s political policies: “the left wing of the possible.” I believe that reflects MtPD’s philosophy.   

MtPD Breakfast

Food Frenzy Café in Great Falls was packed for a breakfast hosted by Montana Progressive Democrats. It was an excellent prelude to Saturday’s state Democratic platform convention with about 35 in attendance. Congressional candidate Kathleen Williams spoke and responded well to a lengthy Q&A session. MtPD will continue to schedule events like this at political venues around Montana.

 

ICYMI – From the June newsletter:  

Thank you John Heenan; Now let’s get behind Kathleen Williams

John Heenan ran a superb campaign and Montana Progressive Democrats (MtPD) was proud to have endorsed him. That John lost by only 2000 votes out of nearly 112,000 cast in the primary election is a testament to how well a progressive message resonates with Montana voters.

But 2018 is The Year of the Woman and MtPD congratulates Kathleen Williams on her success. MtPD supports the continuing Williams’ campaign and we’ll be discussing how we can assist her in unseating Trump sycophant Greg Gianforte. Additional information will be forwarded to MtPD membership soon.

MtPD will also be advancing a progressive agenda that we’ll be impressing upon candidate Williams.

 

MtPD to endorse/donate to progressives in general election

We’ll be sending out a questionnaire to Democratic candidates, similar to the questionnaire we sent during the primary election, and we’ll be voting to endorse and donate to candidates that meet MtPD criteria.  The endorsement process is posted at the end of this newsletter. *

 

Gotta pay them dues

Your dues will go to outreach and building our base, advancing progressive policy, and to contributions – both monetary and membership actions – to progressive candidate campaigns. Here’s our ActBlue site. Do it today!

 

Outreach

MtPD board members visited three Western Montana activist organizations: Mission Valley Rises in Ronan, Mineral County Democrats in Superior and Ravalli County Democrats in Hamilton.

These were mostly listening sessions to hear what these three fine groups were doing and to assist where MtPD could in their endeavors.

It’s exciting to see more rural communities organizing for progressive change. MtPD would be glad to meet with other organizations. Contact Pete Talbot: petetalbot@montana.com   

 

*General Election Endorsement Process

The endorsement process starts with a progressive values questionnaire sent to the candidates. Membership then chooses to endorse/not endorse based on questionnaire responses. During primaries, more than one candidate can be endorsed or none at all. Endorsements are weighted on number of votes garnered from the membership, the candidate’s shared values with MTPD, campaign viability and candidate outreach to progressives.

The MTPD Executive Board will compile the information from candidates and membership, and finalize endorsement decisions.

The endorsed candidate is encouraged use MTPD's endorsement in campaign material, and MTPD will promote endorsed candidates in its communications.

Here’s the fine print:

Endorsement Policy

Montana Progressive Democrats may endorse in primary and general elections according to the following procedure.

  1. The Montana Progressive Democrats executive group shall submit a questionnaire to all candidates eligible for endorsement, and distribute the   answers to this questionnaire to current members.
  2. A supermajority of two-thirds of members voting in support of a candidate shall make that candidate eligible for endorsement by the Montana Progressive Democrats.

MT Dems Platform Convention

https://themontanapost.com/2018/07/18/montana-democratic-party-platform-convention/

Montana Democratic Party platform convention

July 18, 2018

Pete Talbot 


I hesitate to write this post. No matter how I phrase it, some friends in the party won’t be happy — depending on where they stand on the issues.

The last thing I want to do is give the Democratic Party a black eye with this most crucial midterm election 112 days out. In a way, the convention is a snapshot of how democracy works: it’s messy, and there are winners and losers. I continue to respect the delegates from all over Montana who gave up a summer weekend to sit in the Great Falls Civic Center.

I have yet to see any media coverage of the convention. In the old days, Lee newspapers would have sent Chuck Johnson or Mike Dennison to the event, and the Great Falls Tribune would have had a reporter there. The only recap I’ve seen is on social media and there tends to be bias. So, here’s my view as a progressive participant.

I should mention at the outset that I’m the director of the Montana Progressive Democrats (MtPD). We had ve planks we wanted to add to the platform. A thumbnail sketch of the convention can be viewed by how those planks fared.

Energy

Right out of the gate, I got my ass handed to me. This is the MtPD plank I introduced:
We support an immediate and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and to take action to accelerate the shift to a clean energy economy that works for all. There must be a rapid phase out of fossil fuel projects in Montana to be replaced by alternative and sustainable union energy jobs.

I’d just arrived in the Electric City from a gorgeous drive along the Blackfoot River and over Rogers Pass and onto the rolling plains of Central Montana. Organized labor was waiting for me. It based its opposition to the plank on a loss of good-paying union jobs in the fossil fuel industry and election defeats in energy producing counties.

I also took a hit from former legislator and Public Service Commissioner Greg Jergeson. It was the word “immediate” that troubled him. He said that ratepayers would see substantial increases in their power bills because Northwestern Energy and Montana-Dakota Utilities consumers were tied into existing contracts with various fossil fuel energy providers, with guaranteed rates already set. He also mentioned a lack of infrastructure and alternative energy producers to cover users’ needs in the near future.
The reason the word “immediate” was used by MtPD is because we could not find consensus on a specific transition date, anywhere. 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040? Sooner than later was our suggestion.

Ken Toole, also a former legislator and PSC commissioner, challenged Jergeson’s statement and added that Montana was falling behind in the clean energy race and that fossil fuels, particularly coal, were not Montana’s future. He also stated that there was more job growth in the renewable energy sector than in the old fossil fuel industry.

I got maybe five votes out of the 30 delegates in the room, many of whom were representatives from labor, and a few cautious legislators, candidates and handlers. To say that unions are well represented at these conventions would be an understatement. Here’s the deal, though: MtPD is a strong supporter of organized labor, as you’ll see in some of the other planks, below, that we introduced.

What you don’t see at these conventions are leaders from the environmental community, and perhaps for good reason. They have received short shri in the past. There is room at the table, though: form a partnership organization, like MtPD did, that represents our mutual, important environmental concerns. It gives you votes at conventions. You can also get involved through county central committees. As they say in the lottery commercials: you can’t win if you don’t play.

And labor, how about helping out on environmental planks being offered up? You know, a little quid pro quo.
An aside on this issue — I spoke to a woman legislative candidate who had just finished filling out the AFL-CIO questionnaire to get its endorsement. She’s a strong advocate for labor and answered all the questions to the organization’s satisfaction except one, something along the lines of, “Do you support the reasonable development of future coal reserves?” “Reasonable?” What the hell does that mean? And since she’s rightfully concerned about global warming, she didn’t respond appropriately to that particular query. This could cost her the endorsement.

Bad move, AFL-CIO.

Jobs and the Economy
We support raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and then indexing it (to cost of living and ination). No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.

This didn’t make it either, although the vote was much closer than the clean energy plank I’d offered up earlier in the day. The arguments against it came from mostly rural delegates. They argued it would be a difficult sell to small businesses in their communities. MtPD explained that it was just a target and this wage was sorely needed in booming cities like Bozeman and Missoula, but that fell on deaf ears.

Labor raised concerns about the plank, which baffled me. Would this hurt its organizing efforts? Doesn’t the cliche “a rising tide raises all boats” apply? Help me to understand your opposition, please, labor.

Some of the handlers for the congressional candidates were hesitant, too — again, worried that it would harm the candidates at the polls.

One argument against the amendment was that this should be done municipally, like Bozeman is trying to do, and not be a statewide effort. That’s nice for cities with progressive councils and commissions, but what about communities in need of wage increases that have regressive elected offcials? I guess those towns lose out.

Health Care
Health Care is a Human Right. America needs not-for-profit universal health care. We must resist privatization and voucherization of Medicare and Medicaid, or the rising age of Medicare eligibility.

“Health care is a Human Right” made it into the platform — a victory — but universal or single-payer or Medicare-for-all language didn’t. Those present at the committee said it was the same refrain: how will it affect our congressional and legislative candidates? How will it play at the doors?

It was unfortunate that many of the plank discussions that MtPD hoped to influence were scheduled at the same time: Health Care, Energy, Good Government, for example, were set for the same time slot. I don’t have many details on how the health care debate fared, but obviously one would think universal health care would be a winning message.

Labor
We oppose right-to-work in all of its forms whether through the use of the judicial, federal, executive or state-level government, or any act that inhibits or restricts a member’s ability to join a strong union, or allows members to use the benefits of a union without paying their fair share.

With a little needed word-smithing, this was adopted. The final sentence about members getting benefits without paying full union dues is MtPD’s response to the SCOTUS Janus decision (unionized public employees don’t have to pay “agency fees” even though they receive the wage increases and benefits that are negotiated by their union).

See, organized labor, MtPD is your friend.

Good Government
WE SUPPORT:
1. The assurance of voting rights to all citizens and expanded voter participation particularly in historically disenfranchised areas.
2. Campaign nance reform to protect the voice of Montana voters against the dominance of large moneyed interests in electoral and political matters.
3. The overturning of Citizens United
WE OPPOSE:
1.The dominance of huge moneyed interests over the interests of MT voters in electoral and political life.
2. Corporate human rights under the Constitution and money as protected speech.

Again, with a little word-smithing, these got in. It’s a bit of a no-brainer. Any Democrats in favor of disenfranchising voters or Citizens United?

Perhaps the most interesting debate was on legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana. The plank wasn’t introduced earlier but as the convention wound down, a motion was made to add it to the platform by Billings Heights candidate for the state senate, Jennifer Merecki.

The discussion was enlightening. It wasn’t an urban/rural split. A farmer from Ekalaka was interested in a potential cash crop. An urban legislative candidate — from Missoula — spoke against the amendment. But the conversation leaned pro-pot. There are certainly tax and budget incentives, and it appeals to libertarians, young voters and those with medicinal needs.

The vote was closer than expected and it was somewhat of a defining moment. From my hasty count there was about a 20 vote difference out of 125 delegates. But it did go down.

Briefly, there were other amendments, good and bad, that were or were not adopted: a plank recognizing crimes against Native women, support for net neutrality, language on immigration, welcoming all gender identities into the Montana Democratic Party. All these made it into the platform. I’m sure I’ve missed a few other, important amendments.

On the con side, an amendment to take trapping out of the Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation plank went down in defeat. Yo, Democrats, who are you trying to appeal to here?

Now, a brief message from Montana Progressive Democrats. It’s in MtPD’s job description to push the envelope, otherwise there will be no forward progress.

It reminds me of my first platform convention about a dozen years ago. Progressives there were advancing gay rights language. The more moderate wing of the party was worried about how that would be perceived by the voters in the upcoming election, and gay rights didn’t make it into the platform.

Twelve years later, it’s a major plank and there isn’t a delegate who wouldn’t defend LGBTQ rights. It’s called progress.
I did get to go to the Sip ‘n Dip and see the mermaids (and merman) and listen to Piano Pat, so the weekend wasn’t a total loss. Seriously, there were good people at the convention, doing what they thought best for the candidates and the future of the party.
And progressives, I think we’re making headway, albeit slowly, so keep agitating.
 
About the author
Pete Talbot
'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising rm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.


June 2018 Newsletter

Montana Progressive Democrats Newsletter

June 2018

Thank you John Heenan; Now let’s get behind Kathleen Williams

John Heenan ran a superb campaign and Montana Progressive Democrats (MtPD) was proud to have endorsed him. That John lost by only 2000 votes out of nearly 112,000 cast in the primary election is a testament to how well a progressive message resonates with Montana voters.

But 2018 is The Year of the Woman and MtPD congratulates Kathleen Williams on her success. MtPD supports the continuing Williams’ campaign and we’ll be discussing how we can assist her in unseating Trump sycophant Greg Gianforte. Additional information will be forwarded to MtPD membership soon.

MtPD will also be advancing a progressive agenda that we’ll be impressing upon candidate Williams.

Call for delegates to the Montana Democratic Party Platform Convention

As a partner organization to the Montana Democratic Party, Montana Progressive Democrats are allowed 10 delegates to the platform convention – 5 from Eastern Montana and 5 from Western Montana (here’s a map of the districts).

Dues paying MtPD members are urged to participate in the process. Those wishing to be a delegate should contact Pete Talbot at petetalbot@montana.com.  

 

The convention will be held in Great Falls on July 13-14. Here’s a link to the details. Officers will be filling some of those 10 spots.

MtPD will also be hosting an event that weekend. Stay tuned for time and place.

MtPD Platform

After hearing back from MtPD platform committees and like-minded organizations, MtPD leadership is leaning toward short, concise amendments to the Montana Democratic Party’s platform. For Example:

Health Care and Human Services:

  1. Health Care is a Human Right. America needs not-for-profit universal health care.
  2. We must resist privatization and voucherization of Medicare and Medicaid, or the rising age of Medicare eligibility.    

Energy:

  1. We support an immediate and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and to take action to accelerate the shift to a clean energy economy that works for all.
  2. There must be a rapid phase out of fossil fuel projects in Montana to be replaced by alternative and sustainable union energy jobs.

Good Government:  

WE SUPPORT:

1.The assurance of voting rights to all citizens and expanded voter participation particularly in historically disenfranchised areas.

  1. Campaign finance reform to protect the voice of Montana voters against the dominance of large moneyed interests in electoral and political matters.
  2. The overturning of Citizens United.

WE OPPOSE:

  1. The dominance of huge moneyed interests over the interests of MT voters in electoral and political life.
  2. Corporate human rights under the Constitution and money as protected speech.

 

Labor:

We support raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour over and then indexing it. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.

MtPD does not have a plank for every category. Many progressive planks are being offered by central committees and other organizations – Education, American Indian, Justice, etc. – and we will be lending our support to those amendments.

Deadline for submitting platform amendments is June 30, so please get any additional language to us pronto. (Contact petetalbot@montana.com.)

MtPD to endorse/donate to progressives in general election

We’ll be sending out a questionnaire to Democratic candidates, similar to the questionnaire we sent during the primary election, and we’ll be voting to endorse and donate to candidates that meet MtPD criteria.  The endorsement process is posted at the end of this newsletter. *

Gotta pay them dues

Your dues will go to outreach and building our base, advancing progressive policy, and to contributions – both monetary and membership actions – to progressive candidate campaigns. Here’s our ActBlue site. Do it today!

Outreach

MtPD board members visited three Western Montana activist organizations: Mission Valley Rises in Ronan. Mineral County Democrats in Superior and Ravalli County Democrats.

These were mostly listening sessions to hear what these two fine groups were doing and to assist where MtPD could in their endeavors.

It’s exciting to see more rural communities organizing for progressive change. MtPD would be glad to meet with other organizations. Contact Pete Talbot: petetalbot@montana.com    


*General Election Endorsement Process

The endorsement process starts with a progressive values questionnaire sent to the candidates. Membership then chooses to endorse/not endorse based on questionnaire responses. During primaries, more than one candidate can be endorsed or none at all. Endorsements are weighted on number of votes garnered from the membership, the candidate’s shared values with MTPD, campaign viability and candidate outreach to progressives.

The MTPD Executive Board will compile the information from candidates and membership, and finalize endorsement decisions.

The endorsed candidate is encouraged use MTPD's endorsement in campaign material, and MTPD will promote endorsed candidates in its communications.

Here’s the fine print:     

Endorsement Policy

Montana Progressive Democrats may endorse in primary and general elections according to the following procedure.

 

  1.   The Montana Progressive Democrats executive group shall submit a          questionnaire to all candidates eligible for endorsement, and distribute the   answers to this questionnaire to current members.
  2. A supermajority of two-thirds of members voting in support of a candidate shall make that candidate eligible for endorsement by the Montana Progressive Democrats.

May Newsletter

Montana Progressive Democrats Newsletter

Spring 2018 

 

MtPD endorses John Heenan for Congress

U.S. House candidate in the 2018 Democratic primary election, John Heenan, was overwhelmingly endorsed by Montana Progressive Democrats (MtPD) membership and board.

Five of the six candidates responded to MtPD’s endorsement questionnaire. Lynda Moss submitted her answers shortly before dropping out. Jared Pettinato did not respond.

The endorsement was based on four criteria: number of votes garnered from membership, the candidate’s shared values with MtPD, campaign viability and candidate outreach to progressives.* 

Heenan excelled in all four.

MtPD membership was able to view each candidate’s answers to the questionnaire. Thirty-two members responded with an endorsement and all the candidates received votes. Members were able to endorse one or more candidates, or none at all. Heenan was the only candidate to break the 60 percent threshold.

“It’s obviously a great field from which to choose,” said MtPD Director Pete Talbot, “but our members believe Heenan most closely aligns with our values and will be the best candidate to beat (incumbent Republican) Greg Gianforte this fall.”

 

 

What else have we been up to?

Helena meeting

Our statewide meeting in Helena on March 10 was attended by more than 70, many of them candidates in the 2018 primary and general elections. Sen. Jon Tester addressed the gathering, as did Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and U.S. House candidates John Heenan and Kathleen Williams.

Candidates for Montana legislative seats and the PSC were introduced and state Rep. Amanda Curtis spoke eloquently on behalf of MTPD: past, present and future.

Duane Catlett from Bozeman, a former professor, and current lecturer and scientist, presented a power point and discussion about neoliberalism titled Two Americas – With a Neo-Liberal Transition.

Committee assignments – particularly platform planks – were updated as was work on the endorsement process.   

 

Congressional Forum

Montana Progressive Democrats co-hosted a candidate’s forum for the U.S House Democratic candidates. It was one of the first opportunities to listen to all five candidates speak to the issues (a sixth candidate, John Meyer of Bozeman, entered the race after the forum).

MTPD partnered with Missoula County, Ravalli County and Mineral County Democratic Central Committees, UM College Democrats and BMWED-IBT (Rail Workers Conference).

The forum was videotaped by Missoula Community Access Television. It can be viewed here: http://69.144.69.99/Cablecast/public-site/index.html#/show/8240?channel=2

 

Trainings

MtPD worked with a host of great candidates and volunteers on managing the VAN (Voter Activation Network). That was followed by a Q&A with veteran campaign consultant Jim Parker of WestRidge Creative. Candidates participating were Lee Bridges, Diane Magone, Marilyn Marler, Andrea Olsen, Patrick Maloney and Lyndsay Stover. More trainings are planned.  

 

Outreach

MtPD board members visited with two Western Montana activist organizations: Mission Valley Rises in Ronan and Mineral County Democrats in Superior.

 These were mostly listening sessions to hear what these two fine groups were doing and to assist where MtPD could in their endeavors.

It’s exciting to see more rural communities organizing for progressive change. MtPD would be glad to meet with other organizations. Contact Pete Talbot: petetalbot@montana.com    

 

Platform Committees

MtPD is working on progressive language to update the Montana Democratic Party’s platform. The platform convention this summer. The three committees that have been the most active are: Health Care, Good Government and Energy/Environment. We’ll keep membership posted on MtPD’s proposed planks as they get closer to a final draft.     

 

Please Don’t Forget your Annual Member Donation

You’ll get a cool bumper sticker. It’s our logo, the same as the graphic at the top of this newsletter and you'll be an official member of MTPD and will be able to participate in future endorsement procedures and other benefits. 

You can use ActBlue:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/mtprogressives 

or send a check to Montana Progressive Democrats, P.O. Box 7672, Missoula, MT 59807

 

*Endorsement Process

The endorsement process starts with a progressive values questionnaire sent to the candidates. Membership then chooses to endorse/not endorse based on questionnaire responses. More than one candidate can be endorsed or none at all. Endorsements are weighted on number of votes garnered from the membership, the candidate’s shared values with MTPD, campaign viability and candidate outreach to progressives. 

The MTPD Executive Board will compile the information from candidates and membership, and finalize endorsement decisions.

The endorsed candidate is encouraged use MTPD's endorsement in campaign material, and MTPD will promote endorsed candidates in its communications.

Here’s the fine print:     

Endorsement Policy

Montana Progressive Democrats may endorse in primaries according to the following procedure.

 

  1. The Montana Progressive Democrats shall not endorse until after the filing deadline for any election.
  2.  The Montana Progressive Democrats executive group shall submit a  questionnaire to all candidates eligible for endorsement, and distribute the answer to this questionnaire to current members.
  3. A supermajority of 60% of members in support shall make a candidate eligible for endorsement by the Montana Progressive Democrats.
  4. The endorsement of the Montana Progressive Democrats will be given upon the above vote and then 2/3 vote of the executive committee.


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