A parting shot at the 2016 elections


by David Crisp
Last Best News

An old newspaper joke says that the job of editorial writers is to go onto the field after the battle is over and shoot the survivors. The election is over; let the shooting begin.

♦ Cheapest shot: Democrats ran ad after ad pointing out that Greg Gianforte comes from New Jersey, as if failure to be born in Montana disqualifies candidates for public office.

I wasn’t born in Montana. Nobody in my family was born in Montana except my grandson, who is too young to vote. Most of my friends weren’t born in Montana. Perhaps a third of my college students weren’t born in Montana. How many of us do Democrats wish to alienate?

♦ Most pointless ad: Ryan Zinke ran ads criticizing Denise Juneau because some school bus drivers have criminal records. Point No. 1: Juneau is the state superintendent of public instruction, but state superintendents don’t hire school bus drivers; school districts do.

Point No. 2: The ad was based on 2013 performance audit by the Legislative Audit Division. In response to the audit’s findings, Juneau responded, “The OPI [Office of Public Instruction] will recommend to the Board of Public Instruction that it amend its administrative rules to require districts to perform criminal history background checks for school bus drivers.”

Oh. So an independent agency checked the performance of an aspect of government, found problems, suggested changes, and the elected official said, “We’ll get right on it.” Sounds like how government is supposed to work.

♦ Most pointless ad, runner-up: Both Gianforte and Gov. Steve Bullock have been featured in ads about a Montana sales tax. Good arguments can be made for and against a sales tax, but nobody was making them. Voters have resoundingly rejected a statewide sales tax, and no sane politician will try to get one passed. It’s a total waste of time.

♦ Most pointless ad, second runner-up: A pro-Juneau ad depicted Ryan Zinke as too big for his britches, with more interest in becoming House speaker or vice president than in representing Montanans. The ad looked good, and it made a more or less legitimate point. But did anybody out there think the election would turn on who is more ambitious?

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