Tester, Walsh: Dems need to take Helena
September 24, 2013
A U.S. senator and the Montana lieutenant governor both told Hill County Democrats last Friday that they believe it is crucial for party members to mobilize to find and elect candidates and to get people to the polls in 2014.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Hill County has made a difference in putting Democrats in the state Legislature and getting Democrats out to vote and must do so again next year.
“We do make a difference, and it’s important,” he said.
He said one reason it is important in 2014 are two issues the Legislature has sent to the ballot — one would eliminate same-day registration, the other would take only the top two vote-getters from primaries to the general election, which he said could lead to races coming down to a Democrat and Libertarian as the only choices, or a Republican and Libertarian.
“Which is very very unfortunate, by the way,” Tester said. “The fact of the matter is, if you don’t have everybody, that’s unfortunate.”
He said inaction by the Legislature in the last sessions is another reason for Democrats to mobilize their candidates and their vote, citing examples such as the Legislature’s failure to set up a state-run insurance exchange.
Walsh said Bullock’s three top priorities, creating more better-paying jobs, improving the education system and improving state government efficiency, and work he has done to achieve them, make Walsh believe the state government is running well.
A priority also led to Bullock’s vetoing 61 bills at the end of the last session, he added. Bullock’s goal is to maintain the high ending fund balance, $30 million, Gov. Brian Schweitzer left him when Schweitzer left office, Walsh said. Bullock wanted to keep more than that in the bank.
He vetoed those 61 bills because they cut into that reserve, Walsh said.
“We need to do all we can to get more Democrats into the Montana (Legislature) so we don’t have to have, the last day, 61 bills dropped on the governor’s desk and have to have the governor make difficult decisions and make those vetoes,” Walsh said. “We need Democrats in our state Legislature who are going to do the responsible thing and take care of business before they leave town, so that Gov. Bullock doesn’t have to make those difficult decisions.”