Thursday, April 3, 2008


Sure, the visits by Bill, Hillary and Obama are the big political news of the week (and rightly so.) But there are other things going on.

Tonight (April 3) I'll moderate Montana’s first candidate debate of the season--for Superintendent of Public Instruction. The forum is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. in Helena, prompting one fellow journalist to say, "Three hours? Better have some black coffee and No-Doz on hand."

Seriously, though, organizers have had this on the calendar since October and may have been wise to schedule it so early in the season, since it may be the most attention this race gets all spring. Five of the six candidates (four Democrats, one Libertarian) will be there. Only the Republican will be missing. (She's traveling.)

There aren't many issues on the agenda--the continuing legal arguments over school funding, No Child Left Behind and the usual "Why should we vote for you?" But the Libertarian's answers might be interesting. Have we ever hand a candidate to head to OPI whose mission would be to dismantle the office?


Among the last-minute filings for the legislature on March 20, an intriguing entry for the state House. James Steele, who serves as chair of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, is among three Democrats running to succeed Rep. Rick Jore of the Constitution Party. Steele officially is from Arlee but, because of the creative way Jore's district is mapped, Steele will be running against Democrats from Ronan (understandable) and Heart Butte (hundreds of miles away across the Continental Divide on the Blackfeet Reservation.)

With Jore not running and with no Republican in the race, the primary winner will earn the seat, barring a write-in campaign in November. If elected, Steele would not be the first tribal council member to simultaneously serve in the legislature, but I'd be very surprised if a council chairman has done so.

Also, the fact that Jore will not return to the legislature makes the race for control of the House even more interesting, since Republican flame-throwers Mike Lange, Roger Koopman and John Sinrud won't be back, either.


One final note--in my last post, I shared the story about Kumamoto, Japan and its election toilet paper. ("Issue tissue" as an associate called it.) Now the results are in and Kumamoto's voter turnout was way up from 2004—49% compared to 39%. Co-incidence? Or is the way to a voter's head really through the...

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