Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lt. Gov. Bohlinger off to a good start by endorsing Sen. John McCain

Montana Headlines has been offering helpful suggestions to Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger on how he can burnish his Republican credentials.

We recently suggested that the most important thing he could do would be to start to endorse and campaign for Republican candidates, especially in tough election year like 2008 is shaping up to be.

We're not saying that Lt. Gov. Bohlinger reads Montana Headlines, but he seems to have taken the advice -- or at least taken a first step in that direction, by endorsing Sen. John McCain for President.

It is encouraging to see Bohlinger endorse a pro-life Republican candidate for President like John McCain, especially since it is the strong pro-life position of modern Republicans that according to local reports seemed most to sour the Lt. Gov. on the Republican party he claims to belong to (even though he made a point of saying, at the time of the last election, that he was a "pro-life Catholic" who disagreed with the Democratic Party platform on only two points, one of which was abortion.)

David Crisp wonders if this will "take the heat off" Bohlinger. Probably not, for reasons that will be made clearer in this post.

We first would remind readers that we pointed out that to make it meaningful, a Bohlinger endorsement has to come in a competitive race, and no-one believes that John McCain will be competitive in the Montana GOP caucus. Having Lt. Gov. Bohlinger sign up at the 11th hour won't be of much help to McCain, who right now has little chance of winning the caucus. As we pointed out yesterday, Romney will win the caucus in a walk -- Ron Paul and/or Mike Huckabee could turn in surprisingly strong performances, but a win by either would be nothing short of astounding.

Lt. Gov. Bohlinger is even later to the party, and is facing the fact that the state GOP has recommended that precinct position elections be held on Jan 8th across the state in preparation for the Feb. 5th caucus. Bohlinger, in other words, has less than 2 weeks to recruit Republicans to sign up -- and to be helpful, he has to actually find Republicans who like him (and who like John McCain,) and who are willing to sign up to work for the GOP and the GOP slate of candidates throughout the coming election cycle. This should prove a challenge.

After those two weeks are up, it will be a matter of his selling McCain to pre-existing precinct people and to elected Republican officials across the state, most of whom Bohlinger campaigned against, either directly or indirectly. Problematic, to say the least. One could make the case that Bohlinger's endorsement will actually hurt McCain's vote totals in Montana's caucuses.

Bohlinger, interestingly, won't get a chance to vote for McCain in the caucus, since he is unlikely to be elected to a precinct position himself (and he would be unlikely to try, since someone in that position is essentially making a promise to work to elect Republicans up and down the ticket -- something Bohlinger would be unwilling to do, for obvious reasons.)

And only Republican office holders who were elected as Republicans get to vote in the caucus. Bohlinger appeared on the state ballot as a Democrat, as Gov. Schweitzer's running mate, so he doesn't qualify.

Also problematic at this stage is that Bohlinger's endorsement is taking place in the context of a primary election -- when Republicans are running against other Republicans. We will need to see Bohlinger endorse and campaign for Republicans who are running against Democrats in competitive elections in order for us to be fully convinced that Bohlinger still wants to get back to being a Republican in good standing.

Something that could make all of this very interesting is that while casual observers of internecine GOP politics have written off John McCain's chances of winning the nomination, those chances have risen sharply of late, as MH predicted they would, nearly a month ago.

Indeed, McCain's fortunes have risen so sharply that not only is he threatening to knock off Gov. Romney in New Hampshire -- a state that with its "suburban Boston" status was once thought to be an easy lock for Romney -- he has even returned to the frozen fields of Iowa, sensing a surge in momentum that could allow him to slip into 3rd place ahead of a lagging Fred Thompson and an absent Rudy Giuliani.

In other words, Lt. Gov. Bohlinger could indeed find himself stuck with backing the eventual GOP nominee for President -- which would make things a little more interesting, even though there is still the problem of Presidential races in Montana not being competitive, brave talk from the left notwithstanding.

So, congratulations and thanks to Lt. Gov. Bohlinger -- it's a start. We're still waiting for his endorsements in competitive key legislative races and in races for statewide office, especially any that promise to be competitive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finding that old story on Bohlinger. I'd forgotten about that. Sounds like he has more in common with the average Democrat than Dennis Kucinich does.

I'll bet his views on abortion are more in line with the average Democrats' than are Nancy Keenan's. Also, there are a lot of Montana Democrats who have been willing to compromise on and accept a sale tax, particularly if they were from places like Missoula or Bozeman that had university units.

In short, if there was ever a Republican for whom the term RINO applied, Bohlinger seems to be the man.