Monthly City Club Discussion on Election – ‘What Just Happened?’
The Monthly City Club discussion took place via ZOOM on Monday with three distinguished media representatives providing their perspectives on last Tuesday’s general election.
Moderated by MTN News co-anchor Jill valley, the panel included Rob Saldin; Director, Mansfield Ethics and Public Affairs Program at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana; Sally Mauk; Senior News Analyst & MTPR News Director Emeritus; and Holly Michaels; Lee Newspapers Capitol Reporter.
Saldin began the discussion of the ‘Red Wave’ that swept through Montana with easy victories for Republicans in all the major races, following the lead of President Donald Trump who again won Montana by a sizeable margin.
“We saw it based on the polls that Trump was going to win by something like six, seven points in that range, give or take,” said Saldin. “He did a lot better than projected. He didn't quite do as well as he did four years ago when he won by 20. but he wasn't too far off that mark, winning by 16 points.”
Regarding the Senate race between Governor Steve Bullock and the incumbent Republican Steve Daines, Michaels reminded the panel what Bullock had said time and again while he was running for President, about not wanting to be a Senator.
“For months, we had Bullock saying ‘I don't want the job of Senator’ over and over and I wrote probably three or four stories just about that,” said Michaels. “That was just me. I'm sure Jill (Valley) did too. Plus, we all covered extensively that he didn't want to be Senator. Then I remembered when he announced that the first press releases off the Montana Republican Party is ‘hey, this is a guy who has told you Montana voters, he doesn't want the job’.”
Sally Mauk said not enough pundits are giving Daines the credit he deserves by pleasing his Republican base.
“Daines is very popular among Republicans in Montana, and he has said delivered what they have wanted him to deliver as a US Senator,” said Mauk. “So I think, when we talk about what Bullock may have done wrong, we should talk about more maybe what Senator Daines did right, and what he did right was promote himself as being someone Republicans can trust and, and someone who will carry forward their agenda. and I think they're perfectly happy with Senator Danes.”
Saldin said Bullock erred by denying his strong ties to Senator Chuck Schumer.
“It's very hard to say that ‘you're you're running against me not Chuck Schumer’,” he said. “Well, that's obviously on one level true. However it's also true that Bullock was going to be a vote for Chuck Schumer to be Majority Leader. So it's hard to have that distance from congressional leaders when you are running for Congress.”
Republicans won every major statewide race last Tuesday, from Senator to Governor down to the State Insurance Commissioner.