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Thursday, June 01, 2006

John Morrison Scandals: More Shoes to Drop?

George Ochenski has a must read article in the Missoula Independent. Read the whole thing, it is critical:

But as Morrison and Tester tarred Burns with his Abramoff connections, the rumors of skeletons in John Morrison's closet began rattling. Eventually, a number of articles revealed Morrison, who is married with two children, had an affair with a woman who became the wife of a Flathead-area man Morrison's office was investigating for securities fraud (see "Why the Morrison Affair Matters," April 20, 2006).

While Morrison professed reconciliation with his wife and said the affair hadn't influenced his investigation, there was little doubt that the news had damaged his campaign. Contributions slowed as questions persisted. And hanging over it all was the pressing question: If Morrison was tainted, would that neutralize the single most powerful issue -- corruption -- that the Dems hoped to use against Burns?

Suddenly, Tester's dark-horse campaign came galloping into the light. Jon Tester, his supporters said, was the only candidate with nothing to hide, and hence was the only one who could take on and beat Burns. For his part, and without going directly after Morrison's indiscretions, Tester said the same thing.

Yes, Tester has the momentum and the Morrison scandal has destroyed any chance of Morrison beating Conrad Burns.

In the words of Butte attorney Michael J. McKeon: "The affair, and the poor way [Morrison] handled the Tacke matter, I think render him impotent in the general election against Conrad Burns." Fellow attorney Alexander Blewett of Great Falls, who donated $4,200 to Morrison's campaign last year, added: "You're going to have to read between the lines, but I'm supporting Tester for a vast number of reasons." Bozeman attorney and State Senator Mike Wheat said he feared a Morrison win would guarantee a "brutal" general election with voters saying: "I don't care if John Morrison cheats on his wife, but when he does it with the girlfriend and future wife of a guy who's ripping people and investors off...then that's just wrong."

Topping it off -- and reported in the same Tribune article -- is Morrison's cancellation of a scheduled hour-long interview on Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings last week, which has left some postulating that his campaign is "imploding."

Are there more shoes to drop? Hard to say. But if another skeleton tumbles from Morrison's closet -- or candidate Paul Richards pulls out of the race and tosses his support to Tester -- next week's election could well see Big Jon, the squeaky-clean, flat-topped organic farmer from Big Sandy, celebrating a totally unexpected victory.

Now, the Independent went to press before Richards pulled out -- once again Ochenski called it. But he also suggests that more shoes may drop (not another shoe, but more shoes). Now George has great sources and has been around Montana politics a long time. If he was right on one point, could he be right about the other?

If the press is going to drop the other shoe, the voters deserve for it to happen before the primary election.

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