So You Want to Be Montana Lieutenant Governor?

Posted September 24, 2003 at 3:33pm

It was bound to happen. With 10 Democratic presidential candidates trooping through the highways and byways of Iowa in search of caucus votes, conservatives were likely to feel a little lonely. President Bush’s renomination is assured, and he has no reason to stump in the Hawkeye State just yet.

But for the past few months, Iowa conservatives — and everyone following the caucuses from afar — have had a Web site they can call their own. The Iowa Presidential Watch (www.iowapresidentialwatch.com, naturally) carries biographies of each Democratic candidate, their weekly schedules, news articles and political cartoons — all from the conservative perspective.

It’s run by Linda Eddy, an artist from Webster City who supplies the original political cartoons and has set up a political action committee (unaffiliated with any political party or candidate) to aid her efforts.

But despite its point of view, the site, rather than being harsh or shrill, is fairly straightforward and very informative. It does throw some red meat to the true believers, however, with one section called “Clinton Comedies,” and another titled “What We’re Up Against,” a look at anti-Bush invective on the Web.

Mostly, though, it’s just a primer on the candidates and their campaigns.

Help Wanted. This is novel: As he casts about for a running mate, Montana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Schweitzer will take applications from the general public, either through the mail or on his campaign Web site, the Billings Gazette reported.

“The choice of lieutenant governor, like so many choices in traditional politics, has too often been made by the same empowered few,” said Schweitzer, a rancher who ran a surprisingly close race against Sen. Conrad Burns (R) in 2000. “All Montanans are in the applicant pool, and all résumés will have equal weight.”

Schweitzer said he would not limit the search to Democrats. The lieutenant governor’s job, by the way, pays $62,471 a year — almost $16,000 less than what the governor earns, but a very nice figure indeed in the Mountain West.

As for this method of political recruiting, we can’t recall anything like it since Adlai Stevenson (Ill.) threw open the question of who should be his running mate to the Democratic National Convention in 1956. The people’s choice then? Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, who was the runner-up to Stevenson in the presidential balloting that year.

Copping a Plea. One of the more bizarre cases of campaign dirty tricks in recent memory is grinding to a close. Adrian Plesha, the former campaign manager for a 1998 Republican Congressional candidate in California, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

Plesha was campaign manager to Charles Ball, the Republican challenging Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) in San Francisco’s East Bay suburbs.

A few days before the election, registered Democrats in the district received a mailing from the East Bay Democratic Committee, a fictitious organization, that was supposedly signed by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). The mailing, and follow-up phone calls, urged Democrats to vote against Tauscher. She nevertheless won with 53 percent of the vote.

According to the Justice Department, which prosecuted the case, Plesha denied in a written statement to the FEC in 2000 any knowledge of who originated the letters and calls, when in fact he himself created, reviewed, approved, authorized and circulated them.

After the 1998 campaign, Plesha went to work for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) as his communications director. In January, he opened the Washington, D.C., office of Promia, a San Francisco-based cyber-security defense contractor.

Plesha has been released on his own recognizance. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21 in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

From Dewey Square to Trafalgar Square. The Dewey Square Group, the public affairs firm stocked with several political heavyweights, is going continental.

The firm, which has offices in five U.S. cities, including D.C., announced this week that it is entering the European market by combining its operations with Morgan Allen Moore, a London-based public affairs shop with other offices in Cardiff, Wales; Tunbridge Wells, England; and Brussels, Belgium. The European offices will now operate as Morgan Allen Moore — a Dewey Square Group Company.

Come Together. Political scientists and political operatives will get together to discuss the 2004 elections, campaign finance reform, up-to-date campaign tools, careers in politics and more during the American Association of Political Consultants Academic Outreach Conference. It takes place Oct. 2-4 in Akron, Ohio.

Highlights include a speech by “Washington Week in Review” moderator Gwen Ifill, a tribute to Democratic graybeard Raymond Strother, and an awards program for political science students featuring Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic (D), vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Plusquellic has invited his fellow mayors to attend.