Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wanting to Govern

Greg Gianforte, whose gubernatorial campaign up until now has been soporifically bland, finally took an oblique shot at Steve Bullock this past week.  And really, if that’s the best that Gianforte’s got,  I don’t think the governor has much to worry about.

To be clear, Gianforte has yet to admit that his hat is in the ring. Rather, he has been conducting an “exploratory” campaign, which seems to involve running around the state glad handing the voters and asking them if they think he should run for real.  He’s been soliciting contributions to support this endeavor, which seems to me a bit odd - please support me so I can come round and ask if you support me - but what’s really up with this strategy appears to be that it allows Gianforte to campaign without saying anything of substance. Given the extremity of his views, that’s probably a good move, and he’s pretty much stuck to it. There have been a few bobbles, such as when he opined that “the concept of retirement is not biblical,” but generally he has avoided controversy by confining himself to uttering platitudes about the importance of good jobs.

So it was a departure from the norm when earlier this week Gianforte sent out an email (text below) announcing his support for Attorney General Tim Fox and his suit challenging the Clean Power Plan. And taking a whack at Steve Bullock, Gianforte said that had he been governor, he would have been standing right alongside Fox, unlike “some of our own state leaders” who are “silent … when it comes to taking a stand for Montana’s rights.”

Here's Gianforte's missive:

We all know the West is a special place - we make our living here.  Susan and I raised all four of our children here in Montana.

But the special beauty we’re privileged to enjoy makes special demands on our stewardship of the land - demands that are often misunderstood by DC bureaucrats and liberal interests.

Perhaps the first thing they misunderstand is that those who make their living off the land have the greatest incentive and obligation to protect it.

That DC does not understand this is, sadly, not a surprise. But how can some of our own state leaders be silent on the question when it comes to taking a stand for Montana’s rights?

Just last week, our Attorney General Tim Fox joined Montana as party to a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s new carbon regulations - regulations designed to cripple Montana’s coal industry and take jobs from our state. I can assure you, if I were Governor, I would have been standing alongside Attorney General Fox and his effort to block President Obama’s plan.

President Obama’s plan will shut down Colstrip, and high wage coal jobs all across the state. The threats from Washington must be defeated.

If I decide to run and become your next Governor, you can bet I’ll take a defiant tone in the face of EPA intrusion. I’ll fight wherever and however I can to ensure Montana’s future.

And the more I hear from you, the more encouraged I am to run to take on these challenges.

We’ll be holding our state’s leadership accountable as I travel the state and hear your concerns.

If you share my concern for the future of Colstrip and high wage mining jobs all across Montana, join me on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also, please sign this this petition to stand up for Colstrip and high wage Montana jobs.

And forward this email to like-minded Montanans - we need them to join the team.

Let’s demand more from our leadership, together.

Thanks as always,

Like Steve Daines, Gianforte seems to think that President Obama is shoving the Clean Power Plan down our throats just “to cripple Montana’s coal industry and take jobs from our state.” He doesn’t mention a single word about climate change and doesn’t seem to know that the Clean Power Plan would produce billions of dollars of public health and climate benefits. And he fails to recognize that unless the United States is committed to seriously reducing carbon emissions - and Montana, like other states, is prepared to do its part - we will never be in a position to demand international cooperation for climate action.

That’s all pretty standard stuff, but Gianforte rings the changes on the Republican message with results that are downright bizarre. For one thing, he appears to think that the Clean Power Plan has something to do with stewardship of the land!  It’s hard to believe that he has really gone that far astray - maybe all he’s trying to do is perk up the ears of the Sage Brush Rebels  – but either way, it’s worrisome. And then there’s this business about “high wage coal jobs all across the state." You’d think that after all that exploratory campaigning he’s done, Gianforte would know where the coal mines are and aren’t.

And what is he going to do about this terrible plan? Well, besides standing resolutely alongside Tim Fox, if Gianforte decides to run and becomes our next governor, we can “bet” that he’ll take a “defiant tone in the face of EPA intrusion.” Wow, that’ll help.

The fact of the matter is that Gianforte doesn’t really look like someone who wants or is able to govern. He doesn’t see the dimensions of the crisis we are facing; he is willing to cede the lead to the attorney general; he is prepared only to stamp his feet and just say no; he doesn’t appear to recognize the importance of coming up with Montana made solutions; he’s not sure he wants to be governor; and if he is, all he can tell us is that he’ll take a “defiant tone” with the EPA.  And in going up against Steve Bullock, he’s taking on a guy who not only wants to govern, but actually has; a guy that in the face of do-nothing opposition has brought on Medicaid expansion and campaign finance reform and the water compact and a bunch of other stuff. In short, Bullock has governed and Gianforte doesn’t even seem to know what governing is all about.