Big Sky 2012 Battleground State

National Politics

john testerMissoula Sitting around the campfire at the fishing camp with friends from Missoula and Helena last night, it didn’t take long for steak, chicken, roasted corn, baked potatoes, Fat Tire, and Jameson’s to turn to talk of the coming election and Montana’s role as a battleground state.

There was no happiness with yet more Obama compromise.  Hard cuts and study committees filled folks with something that sounded dangerously like contempt, which is not a good sign for the President less than 18 months from election.  When I asked about any deal on closing any corporate loopholes, heads simply shook.

Looking around at the men around the fire only one was working having landed something in recent months after a long stretch of unemployment, there was a batch at 29 with one in school with years to go, another the same age moving to Phoenix to follow a girlfriend and hoping it would be easy to find work, two at 27 with only one collecting unemployment when the store where he was working laid him off after four years in Little Rock and another who said even work in the hospitality industry had dried up in Denver where he had been living the more than a year.  A fellow nearly my age was doing what we have started calling “portfolio” work, putting pieces together, and looking at the upcoming campaign as likely employment once it kicked off.  These were all guys from all around the country tied together by friendship and blood with mad, crazy skills who could fix and figure out almost anything, but couldn’t find a place that fit well in this economy or weren’t willing to settle for any old thing yet.  Every one of them were likely Obama voters, and some would probably vote that way or not at all, but all of them were too smart and too experienced to believe that bending over for banks and Wall Street was doing much for them or the country.  This would be a hard sale to make for a guy who doesn’t seem to do sales easily.

Senator Testor is coming up for re-election after his first six year term in 2012 and being opposed it appears by the multi-term Congressman from the state.   My old friend said the state had been kinda “purple” recently.  He liked Testor as a politician whose hands had been in the dirt as a farmer and could relate to the state.  He thought he was honest and a straight shooter.

But, he also kept repeating that here in this small town, small population state insiders were guessing that the race would cost $40 million for the Senate.  Citizen United money was already flowing in from all kinds of corporations.  Testor had been getting his hands dirty by carrying water for banks on debit card swipe charges, which were way out of his field, but clearly doing what had to be done for the cash he had to raise.

Judging from this campfire along Rock Creek, this is going to be a hard, close election coming.