The former campaign manager for President Barack Obama, Jim Messina, was in Missoula over the weekend to deliver the commencement address to his alma mater, the University of Montana. Messina currently has his own consulting firm, and also is national chairman of “Organizing for Action”, a nonprofit group working to help the president achieve his legislative agenda. In this feature interview, Messina talks with News Director Sally Mauk about OFA’s priorities: climate change, gun control and immigration reform.
Congressman Steve Daines has spent this week touring Montana businesses – from gun manufacturers to lumber mills. He’s in Missoula today to tour the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and meet with a local sportsmens’ organization. He also took time to sit down with News Director Sally Mauk to talk about guns, conservation – and his political future. Daines would have voted against the bill to expand background checks on gun buyers.
About a dozen people, including moms pushing babies in strollers, held a small rally today outside the Missoula offices of Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester over the issue of gun control. Organizer Nancy de Pastino of the group “Moms Demand Action” says they wanted to thank Tester for his support of expanded background checks on gun buyers, and to say “shame on you” to Senator Baucus for voting against the expansion.
“”It’s not infringing on anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” said de Pastino.”The whole point is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill.”
Baucus’s office was closed during the lunch hour protest. The senator has said he voted against the background check expansion because that’s what the majority of Montanans wanted him to do. He says if a new bill is introduced he will evaluate it based on the feedback he gets from Montanans.
Maggie Angle brought her two young daughters in a stroller to today’s rally. She says the Newtown shootings changed everything.
“”As a mom, obviously it hit really close to home,” Angle said.”The idea that you could send your children to school just like any other day…and something completely and totally devastating happens.”
Angle says she supports the Second Amendment but believes some measures, like expanded background checks, are reasonable
Well, it’s too soon to know what the former governor may do in the wake of Senator Baucus’s bombshell retirement announcement today, but The Hill has posted an interesting article.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Senator Max Baucus announced today he will not run for re-election. Baucus has served in the U-S Senate since 1978 and is Montana’s longest-serving senator.
We’re of course working on that story for this evening’s Montana Evening Edition newscast at 5:30.
Here’s today’s press release from Baucus’s office:
April 23, 2013
***For Immediate Release***
BAUCUS: MONTANA COMES FIRST
Senator Announces He will Focus On Montana Priorities Through January 2015
(Washington) – Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) made the following statement today after announcing he will serve out his term and not seek reelection to the United States Senate in 2014. Senator Baucus’ Montana priorities in the next year and a half include:
- North Fork Watershed Protection Act
- Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act
- 6th Montana Economic Development Summit
- Tax Reform
- Passing a strong Farm Bill
- Renewing the Highway Bill
Senator Baucus will return to Helena for a public announcement on Friday.
Reporters and editors note: please Baucus’ biography below and lifetime achievements attached.
“Serving the people of Montana has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. Over the past 35 years I have been lucky to go from working for just under 800,000 of the world’s best bosses to more than a million – and I am grateful to each and every one of them for the opportunity they have given me.
“When I first asked my hero and mentor Mike Mansfield whether I should run for U.S. Senate, he told me it would take a lot of hard work, a lot of shoe leather, and a bit of luck. In the next year and a half, I want to spend all my hard work, shoe leather and luck working for the people of Montana instead of on campaigning.
“So, after much consideration and many conversations with my wife Mel and our family, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2014. I will serve out my term, and then it will be time to go home to Montana.
“But, I’m not turning out to pasture because there is important work left to do, and I intend to spend the year and a half getting it done. Our country and our state face enormous challenges – rising debt, a dysfunctional tax code, threats to our outdoor heritage, and the need for more good-paying jobs.
“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I will double down on legislation to permanently protect the American side of the North Fork watershed and keep the Rocky Mountain Front the way it is for future generations. I am going to put everything I’ve got into leaving Montana with strong Highway and Farm Bills that support jobs in our state. And I’m going full steam ahead to put on the best Economic Development Summit yet.
“At a national level, I will continue to work on simplifying and improving the tax code, tackling the nation’s debt, pushing important job-creating trade agreements through the Senate, and implementing and expanding affordable health care for more Americans.
“Deciding not to run for re-election was an extremely difficult decision. After thinking long and hard, I decided I want to focus the next two years on serving Montana unconstrained by the demands of a campaign. Then, I want to come home and spend time with Mel, my son Zeno, and our family enjoying the Montana public lands we’ve fought hard to keep open and untarnished.
“Above all else, I want Montanans to know how grateful and humbled I am to have had the privilege of serving them, and I look forward to working with them as I continue to serve the state I love for the next year and a half.”
United States Senator
Montana’s senior U.S. Senator, Max Baucus is a fifth-generation Montanan who was born on a ranch outside of Helena, raised under the Big Sky and has dedicated his life to fighting for Montana values.
In 1972 Max served as both Executive Director and Committee Coordinator for Montana’s Constitutional Convention, which crafted what is considered one of the most well-balanced state constitutions in the Nation. In 1995 and 1996, he walked the entire 820-mile length of the state.
In 2009, Max was sworn in for an historic sixth term in the United States Senate – making him the longest serving U.S. Senator in Montana History.
Max understands that values of hard work, faith, family, and community. That’s why he does “Work Days” as often as he can with a local business in Montana. Max spends a full day working alongside Montanans to gain a better perspective of the challenges they face. Over the years, he’s done Work Days on farms and ranches, at butcher shops and pharmacies, schools and construction sites.
His signature work ethic has routinely earned him a seat at the table helping solve the nation’s most pressing challenges. Max has used this powerful post as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to help cut taxes for Montana families, protect Social Security and Medicare, expand health care coverage to our nation’s most vulnerable, and open foreign markets to Montana’s high quality products.
Baucus has also taken a leading role on the Highway Bill and the Farm Bill, which are essential to Montana jobs and infrastructure.
While Baucus remains an influential leader on national issues, he’s still driven by the same principle that he ran on in 1972: Doing what’s right for Montana.
Fighting for justice in Libby remains a case in point of Max’s commitment to Montanans. Almost 10 years after meeting Libby resident and asbestos victim Les Skramstad, Baucus spearheaded the effort to have the EPA declare Libby a “public health emergency” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Baucus then secured free health care coverage through Medicare for Libby asbestos victims in 2010. He has visited Libby more than 20 times and vowed to continue the fight to bring justice to victims of W.R. Grace.
Max has stood up against efforts to target women’s health programs and worked hard to expand preventative care for Montana families. He has also been a longtime and steadfast champion for labor by discouraging threats to roll back the Davis-Bacon Act. And Max has led the fight time and again to protect Social Security from the threat of privatization.
This Congress, Max declared “war” on veterans unemployment by introducing his VETs Act to help veterans transfer military training to the civilian workforce while streamlining tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.
Max is also committed to boosting Montana’s education system and fighting to increase access to public lands important to hunting and fishing. He will continue using his roles on the Finance, Agriculture, Transportation and Environment Committees to fight for rural priorities and make sure Montana has a strong voice in the U.S. Senate.
Today’s announcement was broken by the Washington Post and – as you could imagine – is receiving widespread coverage. Politico’s Alexander Burns mentions some of the factors that could have potentially made for a tough a re-election bid for Baucus.
A Bill making its way through Congress would move a step closer to closing the door on mining in the North Fork Flathead. The North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 was recently reintroduced by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
The Act takes US Forest Service
land next to Glacier National Park off the table for future oil and gas development. Senator Baucus’s office said more than 80-percent of the leases held for the North Fork have been voluntarily retired by the lease holders. This bill doesn’t affect the remaining lease holders, but efforts are ongoing to encourage the retirement of the remaining leases.
Glacier Program Manager Michael Jamison with the National Parks Conservation Association said the North Fork Watershed Protection Act follows up an agreement reached between former Governor Brian Schweitzer and former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2010 to protect the cross-border watershed. The North Fork springs from headwaters north of the border in a coal-rich part of British Columbia.
The Canadians followed up on the M-O-U in 2011 with legislation that made the headwaters area off limits for industrial development.
Jamison said the conversation is continuing with Canadians to preserve the area. He called the area unique and remarkable as an example of an intact ecosystem with the same predator-prey relationships that existed when Europeans first arrived.
“There’s really nothing else like it,” Jamison said. He described the North Fork as ecological and economic headwaters.
“We have 30-years of trans-boundary history relative to the conservation of this place, and there’s a lot of science that’s been done, and there’s a lot of interest that’s been placed on it, with Glacier Park and Flathead Lake immediately downstream, there’s tremendous interest from both sides of the political aisle,” Jamison said.
Senator Baucus has been involved with the North Fork of the Flathead since he was first elected as a Representative in 1974. Baucus pushed for the Flathead River to be designated a Wild and Scenic River, which it was in 1976. In 2010 some of the oil and gas companies that voluntarily gave up their leases in the North Fork include ConocoPhilips, Chevron, and a subsidiary of Exxon / Mobile.
President Obama’s gun control proposals face a tough road in Congress. The lobbying power of the National Rifle Association is immense, and many members, including all of Montana’s delegation, are longtime supporters of the Second Amendment. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin about the politics of gun control…