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Monday, June 05, 2006

John Morrison Campaign Ending on Sour Note

A year ago, most pundits and Washington insiders would have assumed Montana State Auditor John Morrison would win the primary election to face Senator Conrad Burns in November. Six months ago, they would have said they were almost certain that Morrison would be the Democratic nominee. Even three months ago, few outside of the blogosphere and Montana politics would have predicted that Jon Tester would be competitive despite Morrison's DLC money and higher name recognition.

But the blogs were right, the people who know Montana were right, and those who listened to Tylynn Gordon instead of the pulse of Big Sky Country will look pretty fucking stupid if Morrison wins the primary only to have his hat handed to him by Burns.

With the polls closing in a little over 24 hours, Jon Tester has emerged as the only candidate who can beat U.S. Senator Conrad Burns in November. Intelligent Discontent asks whether the Morrison campaign has any high profile supporters who haven't jumped ship with everyone else:

Maybe not, since the vast majority of the legislature, a seemingly large percentage of John Morrison's former staffers, and his former boss all see that Jon Tester is the best choice for the Democrats.

Second, what negative attacks? If Mr. Morrison thinks the Tester campaign has been negative, what in the hell will he do once the huge Burns warchest is deployed to investigate his past indiscretions and promote them to the public? This letter absolutely proves that John Morrison cannot withstand the kind of campaign that Montana’s GOP will bring against him.

It also shows that his lack of integrity goes deeper than we have seen. To suggest that Jon Tester has employed 'false, negative' and 'non-stop' attacks, suggests that Mr. Morrison is a coward and a liar. Before anyone is tempted to believe the Morrison spin, ask yourself what another candidate might have done with the infidelity and impropriety in Morrison’s past.

Finally, the letter comes at an interesting time. In my mind this evening, I was playing around with the idea of what I will do if John Morrison does win Tuesday -- because it is going to be close. This letter makes it pretty clear that John Morrison is not the kind of candidate or person I can support -- sure I might vote for him, because anyone is better than Burns, but that's all I will do.
One thing I do believe: win or lose, Jon Tester will be out campaigning, for himself or Morrison. Does anyone really believe that Morrison would do the same?
The worst kind of political criticism is that which people know to be true. John Morrison isn't in this campaign to beat Burns, he is it it to further his own career. Morrison's dad didn't do as well as Morrison's grandfather, maybe he is trying to prove he is better and restore the family name. Whatever it is, you can be sure it is about him, not Montanans. Once again, the Montana blogosphere nailed it, from the American Prospect:

In Montana, Democratic state Senate leader Jon Tester has staged a remarkable surge in the polls against his primary rival, state Auditor John Morrison. In a Lee Newspaper poll, Tester has whittled his rival's lead to a solitary percentage point, 42 percent to 41 percent, with 14 percent still undecided. Tester's political fortunes are remarkable considering Morrison held the early lead in campaign funds by a significant margin and was the early favorite by nearly nine points. But a transformation in the political landscape has greatly aided the Big Sandy organic farmer.

It started with revelations of a sex- and ethics- scandal involving Morrison, whose explanation for the affair left many unanswered questions. While traditional media remained mum on the incident, Montana's blogosphere concluded that Morrison's dealings would cancel the advantage Democrats have in the Senate race against incumbent Conrad Burns (R), whose reputation has suffered from his connection to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other scandals.

Shortly after, sentiment began to turn against Morrison. Tester's fundraising began to pick up. Morrison lost the endorsement of former U.S. Senator John Melcher (D). Tester started climbing in the polls against Burns, and then rumor spread that Morrison's primary financial supporters -- trial lawyers -- were giving money to Morrison but planning to vote for Tester, which was confirmed by a letter signed by four former Morrison supporters urging Democrats to donate and support Tester, because Morrison's past leaves him on "shaky ground."
It isn't just the past ethics problems that are shaking Morrison's foundation, it is also his current endorsement puffery:
Morrison had an ad in yesterday’s Gazette with a whopping 20 or so endorsements, in a city of 100,000 people. Now he’s sounding out emails claiming the big mo’. Damn right he’s got the big mo’ — he’s moving so quickly he’ll hit terminal velocity soon. The problem for him is that out of the 20 endorsements he claimed, a good 5 or 6 aren’t even supporting the man and either switched to Tester recently or have been neutral the whole time.

Honestly, this whole “veracity” problem has been ongoing for months now. Is his campaign too lazy to double-check these things or do they simply think that with the way things are going, they’re better off lying and hoping they don’t get caught.
Morrison might have gotten away with it, but this is 2006 not 1986 and you don't need a TV buy to move a message. Morrison has bought everything he has politically, but he can't buy the truth and more and more people are realizing that John Morrison's political opportunism would lose him the general election. Since this is Montana, there is a lot of history:
The fact is that the difference between Tester and Morrison isn't just ideological, although ideology is part of it. There's also a huge cultural difference. Chuck Johnson recently portrayed this as stylistic -- it's not. It's a part of these two men's backgrounds, upbringing, and how they've lived their lives.

Jon Tester was raised a third-generation family farmer. His father and grandfather taught him how to work the land for a living. He went to school, became a music teacher briefly and then ran the farm and went organic after making some business decisions and seeing how chemicals affected his own family's health. After serving on the local school board and soil conservation district, he was recruited to run for Montana Senate in one of the most conservative districts won by a Democrat in Montana. He stood by his values and won, then won reelection by a wide margin. And he still doesn't shy away from speaking his mind. Interestingly, David Crisp, in a comments thread, expressed concern that Tester failed to provide a good enough political answer to explain his stance on the same-sex marriage question. My feeling? Tester's honest. And what we need right now is honesty -- a man who would rather have his integrity than a seat in the Senate and a man who will us that if we don't think we can trust him, we might as well send him back to his farm, where he can continue the life he loves.

John Morrison's got a very different background. He's a third generation politician. By all accounts, his grandfather was a truly great man and an inspiring Governor in Nebraska. His father was also an impressive man, although I've heard that he could never match the greatness of his own father. And with John Morrison, it is clear, as one friend told me, that he's wanted to be a politician since he was just a kid. Despite his evident lifelong ambition, he still lacked the willpower to, um, keep himself under control -- a decision that speaks volumes to me about the depth of his own arrogance.

He is a millionaire trial lawyer and part of a political dynasty.
This is a very important quote, do we want a political aristocracy or do we want somebody to represent the people, and choose the people over their own career. He asks a good question, would John Morrison choose integrity over political ambitions? Judging from the affair scandal and Leo Giacomento fiasco it appears Morrison would choose himself.

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