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Decision by Martz awaited (Montana)
Billings Gazette ^ | 5/18/03 | Charles S. Johnson

Posted on 05/18/2003 10:58:02 PM PDT by LdSentinal

HELENA - Many Montana politicians are eyeing the 2004 governor's race, but many Republicans are waiting to see whether Gov. Judy Martz decides to run for re-election before announcing their plans.

So far, only two major party candidates have declared: Democrat Brian Schweitzer of Whitefish, who lost a close race to U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns in 2000, and Republican Tom Keating, a former long-time Billings legislator who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2000.

Also, Robert Kelle-her, a Butte lawyer, Constitutional Convention delegate and frequent candidate, has announced that he will run, but he hasn't disclosed on which political party ticket.

The major question looming is Martz.

So far, Martz hasn't announced her plans. A statement released by her office said she "is giving serious thought to her political future and whether she will seek re-election to a second term." Martz is expected to announce her decision at about the time of the state Republican Party convention, June 27-29 in Missoula.

If she declares for re-election, Martz may well see some additional Republican challengers. If she doesn't, a wild scramble is expected in the Republican primary.

Despite rumors to the contrary, U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who already has four statewide races under his belt, made it clear he isn't running for governor next year.

"I'm not interested," he said. "I really, really enjoy the job that I have and hope that I'm doing the job well enough that people will want me to remain in this position. I've got committee assignments that I think can help Montanans, the most vulnerable Montanans."

On the Democratic side, State Auditor John Morrison said he has said repeatedly that he's not running for governor and would likely seek re-election. Morrison, however, added that he never rules out anything.

Senate Minority Leader Jon Tester, D-Big Sandy, said he'd be interested, but the timing isn't right for him. Tester, a farmer, added: "It takes a lot of money. It just doesn't fit right now for me."

Here's a closer look, by party, at the announced candidates or those who haven't ruled a race out, based on State Bureau interviews:


Bob Brown: Brown represented the Whitefish area in the Montana House and Senate for 26 years and was Senate president in 1995. The former teacher won a tough race over Hal Harper, a Helena Democrat who served as House speaker, to capture the secretary of state's race in 2000. Brown has been a highly visible secretary of state.

Roy Brown: The Billings businessman and House majority leader in the 2003 session said he's waiting to see what Martz decides. He said he has some interest in the job but hasn't made up his mind yet.

Rick Hill: A former two-term U.S. representative and former GOP state chairman, Hill has shown in the past that he is a tough and aggressive campaigner, winning the open seat that had been held by Democrat Pat Williams, who retired. Hill said he's about two-third finished with the law school classes he is taking over the Internet and is scheduled to graduate one month before the election.

Bob Keenan: After serving in the House for two terms, Keenan has been in the Senate since 1999 and was elected as its president for the 2003 session. He and his wife own the Bigfork Inn restaurant. Keenan said he wants to see what Martz decides.

Tom Keating: The petroleum landman and longtime Billings lawmaker announced in November that he would be a candidate for governor in 2004 on a platform that calls on Montana to return to its basic natural resources industries because they create high-paying jobs. Keating served in the Senate from 1981 until he was term-limited in 2001 and was appointed to the House last summer to fill a vacancy. He ran for lieutenant governor as Natelson's running mate in 2000.

Judy Martz: Martz isn't talking publicly about her plans, but her office issued the statement saying she is seriously considering her political future. It said Martz has had many speaking e ngagements and interviews with reporters around the state, not just in Helena. Martz is a former field staff representative for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns in Butte and was picked by Racicot to be his running mate as lieutenant governor in 2000. She won a contested Republican primary in 2000 and defeated O'Keefe in the general election despite being outspent 3-to-1.

Ken Miller: The state Republican Party chairman since 2001, Miller served in the Senate from 1995 until 2003. The roofing contractor and businessman has said he may run for governor instead of re-election as party chairman,. He would only run for governor if Martz decides not to run.

Doug Mood: A businessman who formerly was a top executive in Pyramid Mountain Lumber Co. in Seeley Lake, Mood capped off his four terms in the House by being elected as its speaker in the 2003 session.

Rob Natelson: The University of Montana law professor has been a political activist in Montana since the early 1990s, founding Montanans for Better Government and Montana Conservatives and leading several referendum and initiative campaigns. Natelson lost Republican primary campaigns for governor to Marc Racicot in 1996 and Martz in 2000.

Karl Ohs: He has been lieutenant governor under Martz since 2001 and at one time expressed disappointment in his not getting more substantive assignments. Ohs is a rancher and former three-term representative and majority whip from Harrison. He said he's waiting to see what Martz does.

Mike Taylor: Taylor, a Rollins businessman who has served in the state Senate for eight years, was handily defeated by Democratic incumbent Max Baucus in the 2002 U.S. Senate race but may still have other political plans. Taylor said he has a lot of respect for Martz and awaits her decision.

Fred Thomas: A long-time legislator, Thomas has been Senate majority leader the past two sessions. He is in the insurance business and has a construction bonding business. Thomas served in the House from 1985-93 and in the Senate since 1997.


Bill Kennedy: The commissioner from state's most populous county, Yellowstone County, said he's interested in running, and will wait until the end of the summer to decide. Kennedy said he's traveling around the state to talk to Montanans about whether he should run. He believes that Montanans needs a governor with proven leadership and a connection to local government.

Joe Mazurek: A lawyer in private practice after serving as Montana's attorney general for eight years, Mazurek served in the Montana Senate from 1981 until 1993. He was Senate president in 1991. Mazurek placed second in the three-way Democratic primary for governor in 2000.

Mike McGrath: After serving as Lewis and Clark County attorney for 18 years, McGrath was elected Montana's attorney general in 2000. He previously lost for attorney general in 1988 and placed second in a three-way Democratic primary for governor in 1992.

Mark O'Keefe: He served in four years in the state House and eight years as state auditor before winning a three-way Democratic primary for governor in 2000. O'Keefe lost to Martz in the general election by 51 to 47 percent. He now runs a consulting business. He said entering a race early doesn't necessarily hurt candidates but doesn't help them as much as some people believe.

Brian Schweitzer: After giving U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns a close race in 2000, Schweitzer has never really stopped running. The Whitefish farmer has spoken at Democratic gatherings, large and small, all over the state. He is running for governor. Schweitzer has raised a record $254,903 as of March 31 for his 2004 race.

TOPICS: Montana; Campaign News; Issues; Parties; State and Local
KEYWORDS: 2004; governor; judymartz; montana; primary; schweitzer

1 posted on 05/18/2003 10:58:03 PM PDT by LdSentinal
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To: LdSentinal
What a mess! People are NOT happy with Judy. I'm still not clear on why.
2 posted on 05/19/2003 11:17:37 AM PDT by JohnnyZ (That's my theory and I'm sticking to it! At least for the present . . .)
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To: JohnnyZ; LdSentinal
In my personal opinion, she needs to step aside. She will not win reelection. The two top people in the state that I consider worthy successors are Sec of State Bob Brown and Lt Gov. Karl Ohs. I'm leaning towards Ohs, who has been preparing himself from almost the start to take over in the top job. Brown, we need to keep in reserve to succeed Conrad Burns in the Senate in '06, this guy is a solid Conservative. Martz has been troubled from the start and this following editorial lays it out about as best as can be said. It's not a matter of ideology, but a matter of probably not being up to the job and some serious personal misjudgements.

Editorial: Trust has become our rarest resource
Missoulian Opinion

Summary: It’s hard not to worry about Montana’s future when we face a bearcat of a legislative session led by a governor who inspires confidence in only a handful of citizens.

The latest poll rating public approval of Gov. Judy Martz’s performance as governor found a record low. Montanans rate Martz abysmally low: Only 19.5 percent – fewer than one in every five people – think the governor is doing a good job.

It’s the lowest public confidence level found for a governor in the 13 years of the MSU-Billings Poll. It’s lower than the national record-holder President Harry S. Truman, who polled as low as 22 percent. It’s lower than Richard Nixon just before he resigned as president.

In many countries, such a no-confidence vote would be the precursor to a resignation.

As Montana governors go, serious public polls just began in the 1980s. Gov. Stan Stephens was quite unpopular, but not this unpopular. Joe Dixon, elected in 1921 on the slogan “A square deal. That’s all,” was very unpopular. But it’s safe to say that Martz is making the worst showing in any modern public opinion polling.

This is troubling. It’s difficult not to worry about our future as we go into a crucial Legislative session in January, facing an enormous budget deficit and not enough revenue to cover it, with a leadership vacuum in the gubernatorial chair.

What’s interesting are the apparent causes of Martz’s troubles with the public. Policy-wise, she’s nearly identical to former Gov. Marc Racicot. At the center of her philosophy is small government, a pledge not to raise taxes – even in the face of dire emergency – and a dedication to balancing the budget with cuts.

But in the personal judgment arena, Martz has done poorly. From her chain of staff resignations to the Betty Hill semi-scandal, the administration has not looked good. Her policy adviser crashed his car while drunk, killing the state’s House Majority Leader, and Martz washed his clothes before the police came for them. Her Arco land deal looked suspicious, though she was cleared of wrongdoing, and she has a penchant for misspeaking on sensitive topics like domestic violence, religion and her relationship with industry.

Yet, there’s more. Montanans are worried. And they’re increasingly unconvinced their governor is helping them. Last year in the same MSU-Billings poll, only 37.8 percent held an unfavorable opinion of the governor’s performance. The swelling of that number to this year’s 69.2 percent disapproval is a big swelling.

Our nervousness can be measured in what we identify as the “single most important problem facing Montana” in the poll. “Jobs/good jobs” was the choice of 22.2 percent, 20.7 percent said “overall state of the economy” and 15.7 percent said “education.” Asked if they were economically better or worse off than last year, 46 percent said “about the same.” But 34.8 percent said they were worse off, and only 19.2 percent said they were better off. People in households earning $75,000 a year or more were most likely to say they were “better off,” and people in households making less than $20,000 a year most often responded “worse off.”

Certainly Racicot is a hard act to follow. And the economic times are hard ones, a contrast to what Racicot faced. Martz has had little help from any quarter – staffers have bailed out, her party has not stepped forward publicly in her defense and Montanans themselves drive around with bumper stickers that say, “My governor is dumber than your governor.”

Martz is in over her head. Legislators and administrators of the departments will have to help lead the state to more stable ground during the upcoming session.

In one sense, Martz is Racicot’s parting gift to us. He fostered her candidacy. At the end of her term, he can help us all by using his influence with the Bush administration to find her a job that fits. Remember former Lt. Gov. Allen Kolstad and the $70,000-a-year job as International Boundary Commissioner? She might be relieved herself.

Sunday, October 20, 2002
3 posted on 05/19/2003 2:57:44 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
If the Pubbies lose the Governorship in MT, it will be a national humiliation.
4 posted on 05/19/2003 9:18:53 PM PDT by Kuksool
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To: Kuksool
I wouldn't quite characterize it like that (shouldn't it have been a national humiliation losing WY last November ?). The 'Rats might have a legitimate argument in that it's been 20 years (1984) since they last won the Governorship there. All we can hope for is to solidify support behind either Brown or Ohs and hope the 'Rats destroy each other leaving a damaged Brian Schweitzer to emerge to face our guy.
5 posted on 05/19/2003 11:46:40 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
(shouldn't it have been a national humiliation losing WY last November ?).

Yes, along with OK. However, the RATS had their share of humiliations such as GA, HI, MA, RI and VT. In the Governor race last year, voters were looking for a change. In 2004, possible GOP Governor pick ups are IN, MO, and maybe NC. These are states that Bush won in 2000.
6 posted on 05/20/2003 7:10:14 PM PDT by Kuksool
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To: fieldmarshaldj
"Brown, we need to keep in reserve to succeed Conrad Burns in the Senate in '06, this guy is a solid Conservative."

Is Sen. Burns going to retire in 2006?
7 posted on 05/21/2003 2:35:27 PM PDT by MainstreamConservative
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To: MainstreamConservative
"Is Sen. Burns going to retire in 2006?"

I don't know, but he'll be 72 at the start of that term and I'm wondering if he might not be considering retirement by then. Only 2 sitting Senators have run for reelection at that age or older in MT, and only 1 (James Murray) was successful in winning. When Murray finally retired in 1961 at the age of 84, he went home and died 2 months later.

8 posted on 05/21/2003 5:58:08 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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