Democrats Vow to Fight Back at Fall Dinner

Democrats Vow to Fight Back at Fall Dinner

This past Friday, Democrats across the city gathered for an annual gathering of food and fundraising, but a new and welcome attendant joined the otherwise routine evening- Fury. Historically, Dems have been known for playing fair and avoiding ad hominem attacks. I’ve long been a critic of this incremental nice-guy approach, especially as the MAGA train has squashed any notion of polite politics. And while our candidates stayed true to their core value of focusing on issues and not their opponents, there was a newfound fire on stage last Friday. 

We’re mere weeks out from the most important state election of our time. Republicans are a few seats away from a supermajority, and they have vowed to dismantle our State Constitution. This move is not only to ban abortion, but to fundamentally reshape Montana.  While it’s clear our Dem candidates are still willing to work across the aisle, it seems they’re also done taking any shit when it comes to fighting for our rights. 

Candidate for HD23, Melissa Smith, summed up what’s at risk this election saying,

“This is another 2016 moment. Are we going again to fail to do enough to stem the tide of right wing extremist who will ban all abortions, rewrite our Montana constitution – taking away our right to a clean and healthful environment, to privacy, to a quality public education, our voting rights, to understand the complete history of where we live with Indian Education for All, the right to love who we want to love, and to be free to be our authentic selves.”

First-time candidate Kari Rosenleaf is running to represent HD26. Rosenleaf may be a newcomer to politics, but she’s been an advocate for children her entire life. Rosenleaf used her 3-minutes to tell the audience she’s ready to fight for us, saying,

“I’m a public school teacher! I deal with and defuse tantrums all day. I wrangle and educate our most vulnerable kids. I can sure as hell deal with Republicans in the legislature.”

Indeed, the energy on the stage felt wholly different than other Dem events I’ve attended over the years. While the values and commitment to our state and its people have never waivered, the urgency of the moment seems clear to all. We’re at a turning point in Great Falls and in Montana. We’re dangling on the edge of immense government overreach, and a total loss of our freedom as we know it. While some have counted Great Falls out, this slate of candidates confirms what we’ve always known about our city- we’re scrappy af and we won’t go down without a fight. 

My favorite speech of the night- the one that made me cry and fucked up my eyeliner, was from former Legislator and current HD24 candidate, Barbara Bessette. The only Indigneous candidate in our city, Bessette wore a ribbon skirt and a Roe shirt, owning her identity and her values with pride.  It’s been a summer of overt racism towards Montana’s Indigenous peoples, but we’ll save that for another article. Too often, we ignore the fact that almost everyone in the room is White. We may like to fight on behalf of BIPOC people, but there’s seldom any real effort to follow their lead. Bessette’s speech was a fantastic reminder that Indigenous peoples were here first. They’re still here. And they’re still fighting. 

So, Barb Bessette ruined my makeup, starting with this line from her speech.

“Im Standing up here because my ancestor’s survived genocide and oppression for centuries. I feel their strength and perseverance in everything I do. Their spirit is always with me.”

Truly, every candidate on the stage impressed me this weekend. They didn’t just name their values and read their resume. They acknowledged the danger we’re in, the weight of the oppression many of us face, and they told us how they’re going to take the Republican boot off of our necks. 

House Candidates from left to right: Jasmine Krotkov, Lela Graham, Kari Rosenleaf, Barbara Besette, Melissa Smith
LR 131 Sucks- Why I’m Voting NO

LR 131 Sucks- Why I’m Voting NO

LR-131 sucks. Why I’m voting No and yelling about it.

Come with me my friends, back to 2021, during the Montana Republican-led legislative session. During that session, Republicans held majorities in both chambers of the legislature and the governorship. They pretty much could cram any bill they wanted down our throats. And they kind of did with bills helping to poison the environment, steal our human rights, and restrict voting rights. During their rapid-fire shitty session, the Montana GOP also planned out a little treat for our ballots in November 2022. They could have passed this garbage during the session, but they saved LR-131 for the ballot box. Why? Because they wanted to play on voters’ heart strings and push anti-abortion lies to drum up votes in 2022. 

What the funk is LR-131?

This November, LR-131 referendum is on the ballot to provide criminal charges for health care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion. Wow that is some loaded language! Do Montana Republicans honestly think doctors aren’t already taking all possible efforts to preserve the life of infants? No, of course not. Republicans know they are. What this is about is partisan politics. 

The Montana GOP wants voters to ignore their track record of selling Montana to the highest bidder and undermining everyday Montanans. Diversion time! Hmmm, how can we make Montanans big mad at Democrats? I’ve got it! Let’s tell our voters that doctors are murdering infants at birth! How can Democrats not be outraged at that? They must be monsters! Vote with us!

Just out of curiosity, how did our Great Falls legislators vote to put LR-131 on the ballot? Shocker almost the complete Republican slate voted in favor: Fitzpatrick, Galloway, Gist, Kerns, McKamey, Sheldon-Galloway, and Trebas. 

What a bunch of bullshit. 

Doctors already try to save their patients’ lives to every extent possible. Under Montana law, homicide charges can be filed “if a person purposely, knowingly or negligently causes the death of a premature infant birth alive, if the infant is viable.” Meanwhile, dumb ass LR-131 comes in and provides penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. What doctor wouldn’t perform unnecessary care to avoid that? What this bill does is force doctors to perform medical treatment for incurable issues. Grieving parents having to watch their dying infant undergo hopeless, expensive medical intervention – without being able to hold their child during their last moments of life. 

All for political jockeying at the polls. 

Republican Representative Matt Regier (out of Kalispell) is a sponsor of this cow patty, I mean, bill. He is on record stating that the proposed referendum simply means that medical providers can’t intentionally take the life of an independent, living, breathing infant. ::Cough, cough, Bullshit:: 

Standard of care won’t change? Even with a threat of 20 years prison time over doctors’ heads? Tell that to the patients suffering from ectopic pregnancies in Texas and Missouri with their total abortion bans. Doctors are scared to intervene until the patient’s health is completely deteriorated, even though they know no ectopic pregnancy is survivable

Why are Republicans so adamant about inserting themselves in people’s private medical decisions? Why are you so obsessed with uteruses, my duderuses? (Rhetorical questions of course.) We know why. They want to control us. And they aren’t afraid to lie and tap into voters’ protective instincts to do it. What a travesty if this it gets voted into law. Please vote no on LR-131.

The Big Lie in Cascade County

The Big Lie in Cascade County

By K.T.

Across the country Trump supporters falsely say the last election was stolen. They demand “reform”

which really means they are demanding changes that disenfranchise millions of voters and threaten to

make our election system less secure and easier to manipulate so they can “win” future elections. Many

of these people are true believers but the farther up the far-right food chain the promoters of election

fraud myths understand that the best way to assure that they remain in power is to undermine the

public’s faith in free and fair elections.

Having lost their efforts to destabilize our elections at the national level after the court system

consistently rejected their allegations of fraud, they have turned to state and local organizing. In state

after state, legislators have introduced bills to limit and complicate elections. All funded and supported

by right-wing organizations and activists (Like Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy).

The voter fraud road show has also shown up in Cascade County and helped create a cadre of activists

who have busily been wasting local government’s time and resources. Two weeks before the primary

election, on May 24th Teressa Manzella brought featured speaker, Mark Cook, a shadowy figure from

Colorado who purports to be a computer expert specializing in “root cause analysis, for a community

meeting held Heritage Hall at MSU Great Falls as part of a state-wide tour promoting the conspiracy

theory that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Here in Cascade County, there is a very active group of election deniers. As in Nevada and Colorado

voting fraud activists are targeting the county commission. Election deniers across the country are

getting almost no help from local clerk and recorders regardless of political beliefs or party affiliation.

The reason is simple. Clerk and Recorders are intimately involved in our election process, and they

know that the allegations of fraud are a baseless waste of time.

Here in Cascade County, Lewis Zanto, a local realtor who works for Dustin Young and Company, was

given 1 hour on the County Commission agenda to discuss “election integrity” on April 25th. About 35

people attended the meeting including local far-right legislators Lola and Steven Galloway, County

Commission candidate and conspiracy promoter Rae Grulkowski, and various local republican activists.

County Commissioner Joe Briggs pointed out the irony of republican activists complaining about the

2020 election since Republicans won all Cascade County offices. “As I look around the room, I see the

people that I can identify by party roles. Republicans. I’ll just put it that way,” Briggs said. “I would have

expected our folks across the aisle to be the ones that were concerned about what happened in the last


Following this presentation, the Commissioners received a follow-up letter dated June 21 from Jan

Wenaas. In the letter Wenaas said that she wanted to know if action had been taken on the information

“her group” had presented at the April meeting. She also presented her analysis of certain election

software and audit procedures.

On June 24th Deputy County Attorney, Jennifer Quick, responded to the points in Wenaas previous letter with a four-page memo to the County Commissioners. Though the memo obviously took hours to

prepare, in essence the response to Wenaas was that items listed fall under the purview of the clerk and

recorder and/or the Secretary of State. On July 15th the County Commission formally responded to

Wenass and to her ally, Devereaux Biddick, using the information and memo from Deputy County

Attorney Quick.

On July 29 County Commission candidate Rae Grulkowski was back in front of the County Commission,

this time presenting a letter from Devereaux Biddick. In this letter Biddick alleged that the county

primary election did not conform to standards set by the Secretary of State. She requested two

precincts be “reviewed for reconciliation.”

Freemen revisited?

In the early 1990s Montana was plagued by the Freemen, a group conspiracy driven “wing nuts” who

attended public meeting making wild and unsubstantiated allegations of government misconduct. They

also filed blizzards of paperwork snowing over local elected officials. And when their demands weren’t

met, they convened their own courts and issued arrest warrants for local officials. They continued their

efforts to gum up the work of local and state government until the whole scheme came crashing down

in a confrontation with the FBI. At the end of the day these election deniers aren’t much different.

Who’s Who in the Big Lie?

Mark Cook (Mesa County, Colorado) Computer Expert Presenter

Theresa Manzella (legislator from Ravalli County area)

Ron Stahley (Cascade County Republican PAC)

Lou Zanto (Cascade County Republican PAC) – Realtor at Dustin Young & Company andPresident of Prairie

Galloways Host Militia Fundraiser

Galloways Host Militia Fundraiser

Garage sale season is wrapping up, but bargain hunters stumbled across more than grandma’s old craft supplies at a recent “Tactical Civics Fundraiser.”

What the Funk is Tactical Civics?

Don’t be misled by the title. This group has little to do with civics and far more to due with the far-right fantasy of overthrowing our government. Members of this militia organization encourage citizens to take the law into their own hands. To the average non-cultist, this sounds a lot like encouraging neighbors to commit crimes against each other.  The group gained momentum during the Covid-era, opposing mask mandates and yelling “Oppression!” when what they meant was “Minor Inconvenience!” Chief among their propaganda is an urgent message- We are not a militia! However, that’s a hard sell when chief among the group’s goals is to challenge our Democracy and send armed citizens out to enforce laws as they see fit.

Idiots already attracted to fringe Mad Max fantasies were quick to adopt the group’s thinly veiled threats of overthrowing our government, with a Helena-area church even planning a promotional event.

Masking their true intentions is a key, well, tactic of Tactical Civics. This was evident in Great Falls’ garage sale/fundraiser, which encouraged folks to bring a canned food donation. Unfortunately for Republicans, many Great Falls citizens are actually paying attention. We can spot militia organization when we see it, and this event was clearly an attempt to recruit new members into this insane ideology.

What’s more terrifying than a militia group holding a fundraiser under the guise of helping the poor? Having 2 wealthy and well-known elected officials play host. This fundraiser was held on property owned by Republican Legislators Steven and Lola Galloway.  The Galloways make no attempt to hide their crazy, with Lola Sheldon-Galloway frequently protesting outside of Planned Parenthood, threatening our school boards, and making up lies about stolen elections. Still, hosting a fundraiser for a militia group is questionable when both Steven and Lola are currently seeking re-election.

The Galloways’ continued scorn for our system of government begs the question, why the funk are they running for office when they clearly hate our country?

A Facebook post advertising the Fundraiser shows the
Galloway-owned property playing host.
Democrat Platform Focuses on Freedom

Democrat Platform Focuses on Freedom

We recently posted an article on the Montana Republican Party Platform. Yikes. It was  creepy and disturbing. Today, I figured we could take a look at the Montana Democratic Party Platform and see what the Vote Blue crowd supported during their Party Convention in July 2022. The meeting came a few weeks after the Montana Republicans and, unlike their Republican counterparts, the Democrats had near unanimous agreement to their platform.

The party added new language around Democrats’ support for the right to abortion in Montana: “Protecting a person’s right to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive healthcare.” Delegates didn’t fixate on the issue, unlike at the Montana Republican convention. As noted by Democratic Representative Laurie Bishop of Livingston, Montana Democrats have long focused  on defending the right to abortion.

What about the other issues that we highlighted in our article about the Montana GOP platform? Here is a side-by-side comparison of the relevant quotes from each party’s platform.

Issue of ConcernMontana Democratic PositionsMontana Republican Positions
LGBTQ+ RightsWe support equal treatment of all individuals before the law, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or intellectual ability, physical or mental health status, language of origin, national origin, or marital status.”We believe the ideal traditional family structure is a father and a mother….” “We support policies and services that preserve and strengthen the traditional family units as well as promoting the wellbeing and innocence of children and youth.”
Public EducationWe are…committed to a continuum of high-quality, equitable public education opportunities with adequate state funding to develop the potential of every Montanan.”“Adopt school choice policies.” “Facilitating programs that allow money to follow the child for education opportunities…inside or outside the public school system.”
Climate Change“Montana Democrats believe we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through a combination of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the development of clean, renewable energy sources.” “We believe we can achieve this goal and create – or provide transitions into – good Montana jobs.“We…oppose any regulation on domestic energy production or consumption. We oppose any and all parts of the Green New Deal, the ‘War on Fossil Fuels’, the Paris Climate Accord…”
Workers’ Rights“We support the right of workers to establish democracy in the workplace by forming or joining independent unions for purposes of bargaining and advocating collectively.“We believe that membership in labor bargaining units should be optional.”

Other core issues raised in the Democratic Party platform:

  • Affordable housing: “We support increased state investment in affordable, quality housing for all Montanans.”
  • Property tax relief: “A fair and equitable property tax system that provides funding for necessary local government services, requires wealthy property owners to pay their fair share.”
  • Mental health: “expansion of affordable access to crisis support, substance use disorder treatment…and other mental health care.”
  • Child care: “Ensure access to affordable, high quality child care…reducing out-of-pocket costs for working and middle-class families.”
  • Montana constitution: “We support Montana’s constitution…and we’ll resist any partisan effort to repeal and replace Montana’s constitution.”

Well, what the funk! I have to say that sounds pretty appealing to me. What future vision are Montana voters going to select in November?