Over the weekend, Montana Democrats nominated Amanda Curtis to be their candidate in the upcoming Senatorial election. She replaces Sen. John Walsh, who ended his campaign after being accused of plagiarism, and will face Rep. Steve Daines (R-Koch Industries). Pundits, even before her nomination, have given her no chance to win. Why?
Because Montana is a "red" state? Because her opponent, Rep. Daines, is such a political juggernaut? Because Ms. Curtis is such an inexperienced legislator?
Montana is hardly a "red state" - 7 of 9 of its state-wide elected officials are Democrats. Although it usually supports the Republican presidential candidate, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Superintendent of Public Education, as well as both U.S. Senators are all currently Democrats. Only the Attorney General and U.S. Representative are Republicans. A lot more blue than red there.
Daines has spent one undistinguished term as Montana's sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His approval rating has hovered around 40%. He was leading Sen. John Walsh in most polls, mainly due to his huge lead in fundraising. Who was donating to Rep. Daines? According to opensecrets.org, his two biggest contributors are Elliott Management, a Wall Street hedge fund, and the Koch Industries. These two entities most certainly are making these donations out of their deep concern for the citizens of Montana and not because they see the opportunity to own a senator on the cheap, right?
Amanda Curtis is young, smart, articulate, outspoken, and passionate. She espouses the type of grassroots populism and citizen participation that should be the hallmarks of the Democratic Party. She has the exact amount of legislative experience that Daines does (admittedly in the state legislature rather than Congress) and more than Walsh does. Plus, she has the sort of "pull herself up by her bootstraps" story that would make most tea partiers stand up and cheer, if they actually cared about such stories. Watch her Tedx Talk in the link to hear her story.
Also, Rep. Curtis posted a series of videos that she recorded after each session of the legislature, basically explaining what happened there each day. Contrast this with the practice Rep. Daines uses to communicate with his constituents - I bet he reads letters from the Koch Brothers. Besides being an incredible exercise in transparency, her videos provide great insight into the kind of campaigner and legislator that Amanda Curtis is. I encourage everybody to check out a few of these videos on her channel on YouTube.
I'm not saying she doesn't face an uphill battle given the timing of her candidacy - she certainly does. But this race is by no means over. Amanda Curtis has much more than a puncher's chance but she needs our support. She's exactly the type of candidate that progressives should be embracing. Her constituent-driven, common sense approach is much more in line with the interests of Montanans than the "Wow, I can't believe how much money these out of state corporations are willing to donate to little ol' me!" policy of Rep. Daines. The Koch Brothers are trying to buy themselves a senator in Steve Daines and they're trying to do so at bargain basement prices. Let's make sure that they fail in their quest (or at least that they have to pay full retail for the seat!)
Support Amanda Curtis! She will be great for Montana and great for America!