With less than a month to go before the June primary, here are some questions that won't be answered until June 3--or even November 4.
*WILL REPUBLICANS VOTE FOR HILLARY?
As speculated here earlier, the call has gone out to Republicans in the remaining "open" primary states to cross party lines, choose Democratic ballots and vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential preference race, thus giving the GOP an opponent that will enrage the party's base enough that those voters will ignore John McCain's policy shortcomings and flock to the polls in November to vote against Clinton.
In Montana, the temptation for Republicans to try to swing the Democrats' presidential race would seem to be strong, since the winners in the GOP's big primary races are more or less pre-ordained or, as in the case of Attorney General, one candidate appears as good as the other. Plus, once a Republican has voted for Hillary, he or she could vote for one of Brian Schweitzer's Democratic opponents and hope the numbers add up enough at least to be mildly embarrassing.
*HOW MUCH DO MONTANA VOTERS CARE ABOUT COAL?
Republican candidates for statewide office are talking a lot about developing natural resources, especially coal. Even more specifically, coal from the Otter Creek tracts the state owns. Assuming high gasoline prices remain in place, will all the talk about coal resonate with Montana voters, especially those in populous urban areas? Also, will GOP candidates combine their pro-coal message with a public statement that global warming is not an issue?
*THE RACE FOR A.G., CHIEF JUSTICE AND CI-100.
Let's postulate that Constitutional Initiative 100--the "Montana Personhood Amendment" (read "human rights begin at conception") championed by outgoing state representative and Constitution Party standard-bearer Rick Jore--gets on the November ballot and passes. Now let's postulate that someone--the ACLU perhaps--files suit to overturn the voters' will on constitutional grounds. Will Montana's next Attorney General defend the initiative or seek to have it thrown out? That issue also would involve the new Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. So, how would either Mike McGrath or Ron Waterman approach that issue? The judicial candidates probably won't want to show a prejudicial view either way, reserving judgment for when a case actually is before them. But the question is worth posing to both the C.J. and A.G. candidates.
*A LITTLE CIVICS EDUCATION, ANYONE?
This morning, I heard a Missoula radio personality shill for Barack Obama in the guise of telling listeners to register to vote on this, the last day of "normal" registration before the June 3 primary. ("Normal" meaning that once you register, you can vote at your normal polling place. As opposed to "late" registration, under which you can vote in person only at the county courthouse.)
What bothered me was not that a non-news radio announcer was injecting a personal endorsement onto the airwaves (I'll let the FCC deal with that one) but that the pitch contained some incredibly uneducated statements, including:
*The June primary was only for Democrats and that Republicans were not having one. (Wrong on every level imaginable.)
*Voter registration today is only for the June primary and not for the November general election. (False--your registration is good for both.)
Both the radio station and Obama's Missoula office should be appalled at the lack of knowledge and judgment these statements reflect onto their organizations.