Sportsmen sealed reelection for Sen. Jon Tester


Outside special interests dumped some $30 million dollars on the Montana race for the US Senate between Democratic incumbent Jon Tester and Republican challenger Denny Rehberg, but the race came down to something that costs $19: A Montana resident hunting and fishing license.

Sportsmen issues of access, wolves and gun rights headlined both the news columns and the advertising in both campaigns. Sen. Tester convinced Montanans he understood their values, and their outdoor way of life.

Montana voters went for Mitt Romney 56-43, and then turned around and reelected Sen. Tester by a margin of five percentage points. Rehberg spent nearly $10 million trying to convince Montanans that Tester was a liberal clone of President Obama. That message failed.

It failed in part because Tester invested major political capital in listening to Montana sportsmen and women, and then pulling the levers of power for them.

• Tester worked with Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Simpson to get wolves off the endangered species list and managed by state wildlife agencies. Some out-of-state environmental groups attacked Tester for that right up until Election Day, but that only helped bolster Tester’s Montana street cred.

• Tester was happy to work with the gun industry, for example pushing legislation preventing the EPA from regulating lead in bullets. The gun manufacturers’ lobby, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, named Tester their 2012 Lawmaker of the Year. Even though Rehberg got an A+ ranking from the National Rifle Association, the potent NRA was noticeably absent from the race

• Tester helped bring Montanans together and protect habitat as wilderness and restore fishing streams through the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. This bill also has the support of Montana sawmills and would mandate some logging, which has earned it the ire of some environmentalists. On the other hand, groups like the Montana Wilderness Association and Trout Unlimited support it. Rehberg tried to pound the age-old wedge issue of wilderness against Tester, but it got him nowhere.

• Rehberg supported two pieces of legislation that rankled hunters and anglers. One would have opened up backcountry national forests (called roadless areas) to industrial development. These are prime elk hunting areas and important for coldwater fisheries, so they opened up Rehberg to criticism from hunters and anglers. Another bill would have waved environmental regulations for the Border Patrol within 100 miles of Montana’s 500-mile border with Canada. Again, that exposed a weak spot that Rehberg’s critics aimed for.

The race attracted enormous outside spending because the control of the Senate was in play. Montana, with less than a million voters, was seen as good investment from outside special interests on all sides.

The race was close. Every vote counted and was fought hard over. But there’s no denying the hunting and fishing vote helped set up the debate, and helped seal the outcome.

Ben Long is an outdoorsman, conservationist and author in Kalispell, Mont. He is senior program director for Resource Media.

Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Nov 07, 2012 01:30 PM
It really should be pointed out that Senator Tester won re-election with approximately 52% of Montana voters casting their ballots AGAINST Senator Tester.

According to the current, updated election information on the Montana Secretary of State website (http://electionresults.sos.[…]W.aspx?type=FED&map=CTY) there are still 124 precincts around Montana that are still only partially reported. Many of these precincts are in GOP-leaning areas. So, likely the gap between Tester and Rehberg will not be 5 percentage points, as stated in this article, but Tester will likely beat Rehberg by a few points and with around 47 or 48% of the total vote.

What do these actual vote numbers say about any "mandate" Tester might be claiming...especially as it relates to some of his more controversial legislative proposals and actions?

I also have to point out, Ben, that you wrote up the blurb about Tester's mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, as if the bill passed. You wrote, "Tester helped bring Montanans together and protect habitat as wilderness and restore fishing streams through the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act." The bill has not passed and Tester's attempts to pass the legislation as a rider attached to unrelated, must-pass omnibus appropriations bills have failed a few times.

Tester's bill doesn't have the support of the Dem leadership on the Senate's ENR Committee and the bill is opposed by over 50 conservation organization's around the country, including groups like Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity and PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) who have written official testimony against major provisions contained with the bill, including opposing the very notion that politicians should simply start mandated a level of logging on national forests. Enviro groups and public lands policy experts all around the country have expressed these concerns about Tester's FJRA. But Senator Tester, his staffers and the 'collaborators' at the Montana Wilderness Association, Trout Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation (together with their self-described 'timber partners') have refused to listen to any of these substantive concerns.

Instead, bolstered by an influx of nearly a million dollars from the Pew Foundation to run a quasi-parallel campaign for Senator Tester (to say nothing of the millions in secret 'Citizens United' money spent on TV ads in MT by Tester bill 'collaborators') groups like Montana Wilderness Association refuse to deviate from their carefully scripted talking points and focus-group polling information, while they ignore any legit concerns with the FJRA and what dangerous precedent it may set for national forest management all around the country.

Hopefully, now that the election is over (and 52% of Montanans voted against Tester) we can start having a more truthful conversation and healthy debate about the future of America's national forests and public wildlands as it relates to the FRJA. Thanks.
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Nov 07, 2012 01:44 PM
I should also mentioned that I'm a backcountry elk hunter and I support completely protecting our remaining roadless wildlands as Wilderness. I also support putting local people to work on bona-fide restoration projects to restore our national forests. Ironically, I got a nice bull elk this year on opening day in some remarkable roadless wildlands on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in a mountain range that not one single acre of which would be designated as Wilderness via Tester's FJRA.

I also hope people realize that with any piece of federal legislation, the devil is in the details, not in neatly crafted sound-bites.

For example, while it's true that Rehberg (clearly not a friend of Wilderness or forest protection) co-sponsored legislation that would have opened up backcountry national forests (called roadless areas) to industrial development, it's also true that some aspects of Senator Tester's FJRA do the same exact thing!

For example, supporters of Tester's FJRA fail to mention that the bill designates over 1,000,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest as "Timber Suitable for Harvest."

These folks also fail to mention that Sen Tester's FJRA would release, and open for development, pristine roadless wildlands that were protected as Wilderness Study Areas by the late, great Montana Senator Lee Metcalf in the 1970s. Anyone can review the actual language of the FJRA and see for themselves which Wilderness Study Areas Senator Tester's FJRA would release.

Take, for example, the 229,710 acre West Pioneers Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA), which includes the 151,00 acre Metcalf Wilderness Study Area (WSA). What Sen Tester’s bill would do is turn 129,252 acres of this IRA into a permanent, motorized Recreation Management Area (RMA). Not even the “Beaverhead Partnership” supported this. Do we really want politicians ignoring the Forest Service’s travel plans to just legislate where they want motorized recreation permanently permitted? Should we include facts like this in a discussion about the FJRA or should be just limit discussion to the positive talking points?

Or take, for example, what Tester wants to do to the West Big Hole IRA, a 213,987 acre area along the crest of the continental divide that provides linkages and connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone area and forests to the west and north. Sen Tester’s bill turns just 44,084 acres of this IRA into two small, far-apart Wilderness Areas while turning much of the IRA into a single, large, permanent, motorized National Recreation Area (NRA) totaling 94,237 acres. The large NRA would be twice as large as the two proposed Wilderness areas together and access to these two proposed Wilderness areas would be forced to use the motorized NRA trails. Again, this extreme move by Senator Tester to mandate motorized recreation in our wildlands wasn’t even supported by the “Beaverhead Partnership” in their original proposal.

Yet another important policy issue surrounding the FJRA that these paid 'collaborators' don't seem to understand - or want to address - is that this mandated logging would cause significant budgetary problems for the other national forests in Montana and our region. That's right, if Tester's mandated logging bill is passed, you can expect other National Forests, such as the Bitterroot, Lewis and Clark, Custer, Clearwater, Nez Perce, etc to have to fork over their limited resources and ship them over to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge or the Kootenai to complete all of Tester's required mandated logging.

In testimony before the US Senate, the head of the Forest Service said this about Tester's FJRA:

"We would urge you to consider the budgetary implications to meet the bill's requirements. If we were to go forward with FJRA it would require far greater resources to do that and it will require us to draw these monies from forests with Region One or from other Regions....My concern with FJRA is that there will be somewhat of a balkanization that occurs between the different Forest Service regions in the country. Those national forests who are first in may get funded and those who come later may find there are less funds available. There will be certain 'haves' and 'have nots' that result from this process. Then in someways there is no longer a national review, an efforts to sift out what priorities ought to exist across the country."

Once again, the paid 'collaborators' at the Montana Wilderness Association and some of these other groups are purposely only telling a small part of the FJRA story. They are focusing on a few of the more positive aspects of the bill, such as the protection of roadless lands, while (very ironically) ignoring the roadless lands and already-protected Wilderness Study Areas that will be opened up for development and sacrificed if Senator Tester's FJRA passes as written. Thanks.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Nov 07, 2012 02:05 PM
Amigo Mateo, learn to self-edit! Phew. You are right in that the FJRA hasn't passed. I could have been more clear. The column is about sportsmen and politics, not FJRA per se, but the internet being what it is, you're free to commandeer the topic as you like. I admire your tenacity, if not your brevity. Carry on!
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Nov 07, 2012 02:24 PM
Amigo Ben: Thanks for making an issue out of the length of my comment and opening up with a call for me to self-edit. I mean, doesn't that just sort of prove my point that the FJRA cheerleaders want no substantive debate about some of the specific language and provisions within the FJRA and the public lands policy ramifications for national forest management, only pro-FJRA sound bites? Is anything I've written here about the actual language of Tester's FJRA not true?

And, Ben, please explain how my bringing up numerous aspects of the FJRA, which add nothing but context and substance to the discussion, is "commandeering the topic" as you accuse? If you didn't want me to comment about the specifics of FJRA, or roadless protection, you shouldn't have made those major parts of your essay. Thanks.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Nov 07, 2012 02:46 PM
Post away, Matthew. One point of the blog was that Tester won in spite of attacks because he was willing to take on legislation popular with mainstream Montanans, even if it irritates some of his critics on the left.
Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell
Nov 07, 2012 09:13 PM
For me this was the second most important race I was following. The lack of polling in the national media made it hard for me to have a take on where things stood. I'd assumed the worst as I had an idea how Montana would go on the national race.

I think that because Tester is a Dem his influence will be stronger than if he held the exact same position on issues yet caucused with the other party.

I'm happy he won, and I hope he can use some of his government pay check for a new coat, one he's got has holes.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Nov 08, 2012 08:52 AM
Thanks Robb. Tester has shown a willingness (perhaps out of necessity) to work across party lines. Now is the time.
Larry Walsh
Larry Walsh
Nov 08, 2012 09:49 AM
You neglected to mention that Tester's bill opens up logging in one million acres of roadless lands in the Beverhead-Deerlodge N.F. and mandates 100,000 acres of logging including 30,000 acres in the Kootenai National Forest, home of the world's most endangered population of grizzly bears. This mandated logging will cost taxpayers over $140,000,000. Thank you Senator Tester for more corporate welfare, less roadless land, and trying your best to wipe out grizzly bears in northwest Montana.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Nov 08, 2012 10:41 AM
Larry. Do you get your info from Matthew? The press has gone over this repeatedly and found that the Forest Service rule preventing new roads in roadless areas would still apply under FJRA. If you think 30,000 acres of logging in the 2.5 million acre Kootenai National Forest will "wipe out" grizzly bears, I'd like to see a bear biologist who agrees with you. But alas, I didn't intend to debate the merits this bill. As I said in the blog, some enviros don't like it, including you and Matthew. It reminds me of a quote from Paul Bagala: ""Here's the dirty little secret: if your base is increasing in ideological zealotry and decreasing in size, it's not a base. It's a fringe group."
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Nov 08, 2012 12:31 PM
Ben: I've never met Larry Walsh and I don't know who he is. However, thanks again for your snarky reply, ignoring the actual language of the bill, substance of the concerns expressed by other citizens and for sharing your little quote about "fringe groups," which fits quite nicely with Sen Tester referring to those who oppose his FJRA as "extremists are extremists and I really don't care." You continue to prove my point with each comment you make.

I'm also not sure "the press has gone over this repeatedly," nor I am sure that over-worked reporters who cover a wide range of issues are actually in the best position to tell the American public, definitively and entirely accurately, the policy ramifications of an 80 page bill.

You think maybe the Forest Service leadership on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest might have an educated opinion about Tester's bill and what the logging mandate would mean for their day-to-day operations and their budgets?

Or you think maybe the staffers and attorney's on the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee have a clue about public lands policy? How about ENR Chairman Senator Bingaman? Why has he refused to pass Tester's bill out of his ENR Committee?

Seems to me like these folks are as educated about public lands policy as any people in the country and the fact is that they have opposed key aspects of Tester's bill and, in fact, the Dem Party leadership on the Senate ENR Committee re-wrote entire sections of the bill to remove some of the more egregious and precedent-setting aspects, such as the notion that politicians should just start mandating a level of logging on national forests in their state. (See this article for more info and a copy of those re-writes: http://mtlowdown.blogspot.c[…]-bill-transparency-and.html).

Fact is, Tester's FJRA designates over 1,000,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest as "Timber Suitable for Harvest." The map, which documented this fact, was created by Senator Tester's office and used to be available on Tester's website at this link, but has since been removed. Lucky for us, I found a copy of Tester's map on this site:[…]/Proposed-Land-Designations.pdf.

The truth of the matter is that these federal public lands belong equally to all Americans, not just a few politicians and some well-financed 'sportsmen groups.' I can understand why you folks would rather focus on sound-bites and talking-points about Tester's FJRA than have any open and honest discussion about specifics, substance and potential precedence based on the actual bill language; however, that doesn't change the fact that our concerns are real and legitimate and anything but "fringe" or "extremist." Heck, the collective substantive concerns expressed by many are actually one of the major reasons Tester's mandated logging bill has gone nowhere in Congress, except when Sen Tester gets it attached as an undemocratic rider to unrelated omnibus appropriation bills. Thanks.
Larry Walsh
Larry Walsh
Nov 08, 2012 12:35 PM
I get my information from the Fish and Wildlife Service. The FWS says grizzly bears have a 95% chance of going extinct in the Kootenai National Forest and logging roads are the reason. The only place left to log in the Kootenai N.F. is in grizzly bear recovery areas. If Tester's logging bill passes you can kiss grizzlies goodbye in northwest MT. For you to ignore this implies that you are so an ideological zealot and you can't think for yourself. You just blindly support whatever Tester tells you to.
The press has never confirmed that Tester's bill will protect roadless areas. It is just zealots like you who say this.
Stephanie Paige Ogburn
Stephanie Paige Ogburn Subscriber
Nov 08, 2012 12:37 PM
Hi folks,

I appreciate the spirited commentary on Tester, but wanted to remind you all to refrain from calling each other names. Let's try to focus on the issues and the facts.


horsefeathers mcgee
horsefeathers mcgee
Nov 08, 2012 04:00 PM
Good job, Ben, of adopting the oil industry tactic to defend FJRA’s logging mandate. The basic tactic involves taking the entire network of roads and pipelines and well pads and maintenance corridors and check stations that oil and gas development creates, spiderwebbed out over the landscape, fragmenting habitat and industrializing great areas,…and just ball it all up, just reduce all of those impacts by considering only the tiny area that each well pad and roadway occupy in relation to the large landscape over which they’re spread out and in doing so justify the total industrialization of a landscape . The argument is as simple as balling up a spiderweb in your hand and pointing to how puny its weight and size are, ignoring that it once spread out to cover a large area, and that that area is what is important.

30,000 acres in the whole 2.5 million acre Kootenai…nothing, right? Nevermind that less than 10% of the old growth on the Kootenai remains, who cares if 30,000 more acres of cutting and who knows how many miles of roads and staging areas and skid trails are peppered across the Kootenai? It’s probably all healthy for the forest, right Ben, even though there is nothing in FJRA that would substantially modify the types of harvest that are carried out under this bill; nothing that would ensure that these 30,000 acres aren’t business as usual. Keep swallowing and regurgitating timber industry propaganda about the impacts of the industry. Keep throwing other conservationists under the bus, instead of disagreeing in a civil manner. Maybe it’ll get you somewhere. Maybe it’ll make you feel better about yourself. Maybe you won’t realize that the greatest power people like you have is in giving away to the timber industry or oil and gas industry or whatever corporate power, the things that conservationists are most meant to protect…wilderness, wildlife, peace and quiet, clean water.

Way to go champ.
Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell
Nov 08, 2012 07:58 PM
Whewee! What a hornets nest. Must be a link leading here from GrouchyGrampsGropingGrizzliesDotCom, or another one of those web sites. At least we can all agree Tester was good on wolves.
David Zaber
David Zaber
Nov 09, 2012 08:33 AM
View from Afar:

The conflict between Mr.Koehler et al. and Mr. Long et al. over the Forest Jobs initiative exemplify an important impediment to policy discussions. In this case, Mr. Koehler's first two posts (first in the discussion as well) raise over a dozen major factual issues. And while using the term "collaborators" to characterize some supporters of the FPRA, Mr. Koehler's comments present many objective facts.
On the contrary, Mr. Long's first comment is a patronizing and sarcastic personal characterization of Mr. Koehler with the remaining comments consisting of bluster and silly challenges, e.g."If you think 30,000 acres of logging in the 2.5 million acre Kootenai National Forest will "wipe out" grizzly bears, I'd like to see a bear biologist who agrees with you.".

Bottom line: Mr. Koehler wins on substance while too clever by half "comebacks" are revealing.

The idea that underlies so many of these foundation-funded "collaborations" is that any unlogged areas should be opened up for commercial harvesting. After all, they are not making more roadless wildlands these days and the evidence supporting opening new areas to conventional logging and road building is lacking.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Nov 09, 2012 09:30 AM
Thank you for appointing yourself referee, Mr. Zaber. My point isn't that Mr. K et al are right or wrong. My point is, his style is increasingly irrelevant. Mr. Tester won reelection because he, better than the other two candidates, reflected the values, hopes and dreams of his constituents. As for the Kootenai, I dare say I've hiked more miles, cruised more timber, and interviewed more grizzly bear biologists on the Kootenai than the other folks combined. While past logging levels on the KNF were clearly unsustainable, there's no credible source who will say the Kootenai (or the 3 Rivers District) can't sustain 30,000 acres of logging. Being called a zealot by this crowd makes me chuckle. The zero cut ideology is just that -- an ideology. And one that doesn't go to far in Montana.
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Nov 09, 2012 10:44 AM
Ben, have you forgotten that it was you who first brought up the word "zealot" with your use of this quote?

"It reminds me of a quote from Paul Bagala: 'Here's the dirty little secret: if your base is increasing in ideological zealotry and decreasing in size, it's not a base. It's a fringe group.'"

And where did your "zero cut ideology" comment come from? What people or what conservation groups in Montana are actively, in 2012, talking about or working towards a "zero cut" policy on national forests? Maybe that was the case in the mid-90s through the early part of Bush II years, but I honestly haven't heard anyone use the term – or advocate for a zero cut policy in Montana – for nearly a decade. Seems to me, Ben, that you are bringing up "zero cut" just as straw man argument that allows you to continue not addressing any of the substantive policy concerns with certain aspects of Sen Tester's FJRA.

Fact is, during the period FY 2005 to FY 2010 the Lolo National Forest had 99 active timber sales. Furthermore, over the past six years the Lolo National Forest has had exactly one timber sale lawsuit. Basically the same situation on the Bitterroot National Forest, which hasn't had a timber sale lawsuit in over six years time while there have been dozens of active timber sales on the BNF.

Like I said, I don't know of a conservation group in Montana actively pushing a "zero cut" policy for national forests. Truth is, groups such as the WildWest Institute are actively engaged in a number of open, inclusive and transparent collaborative processes on forests such as the Lolo NF and the Salmon-Challis NF just over the border in Idaho. These successful processes prove that the Forest Service has all the tools they need to log, thin, restore or otherwise manage America's national forests without having politicians simply step in and mandate – through undemocratic legislative riders no less – the amount of logging that must take place on a specific national forest.

Even groups like Alliance for the Wild Rockies will tell you that as long as the federal government follows the law, their own regulations and the best available science they won't appeal or litigate a timber sale. The truth is that the vast majority of timber sales proposed for national forests in Montana go forward without any litigation. Why is this fact so hard for some people to admit, especially those who want to promote more logging?

However, unfortunately for all of us, sometimes the federal government chooses not to follow the law or best science and citizens and groups – which actively and fully participate in every single step of the NEPA process – step forward to hold the government accountable. What's so wrong with that?

And by the way, Mr. Zaber – who happens to be an award-winning science educator in higher education (University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Northern Illinois University – never did "appoint himself as referee" (yet another snarky comment from Ben), rather Mr. Zaber just shared his educated opinion here in the comments section. Thanks.
David Zaber
David Zaber
Nov 09, 2012 12:01 PM

I'm envious that you have been blessed with living in a location that many can only dream about. And I'm certain you also love the mountains, and forests, and wildlife of the Northern Rockies. I do. And that's why I've been following resource management issues in the northwestern U.S. for years. Moreover, if I actually were a referee (or judge) in this situation, I would do the following:
1. Ask if the impact of 30,000 acres of logging differs depending upon the actual location, techniques, etc.;
2. Ask for support for assertions about common beliefs of biologists, etc.

But more importantly, as long as myself or other conservation-minded folks are met with specious arguments, ad hominem comments, and recitations of one's experience and credentials as support for actions that have large and irreversible effects on public resources,then we don't have much to worry about.

I am also thankful that we have this and other forums to discuss these important questions.
Derek Goldman
Derek Goldman Subscriber
Nov 10, 2012 09:21 PM
Ben, I think conservationists of all stripes played a part--both the sporting and non-sporting variety. In any event, good riddance to Mr. Rehberg!
Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder Subscriber
Nov 10, 2012 09:47 PM
Robb, no we can't all agree on wolves, either. They should still be "listed" in all three states of the Greater Yellowstone. On the forest bill, it's certainly better than anything of Rehberg's, and I hope not as bad as Matthew and John paint it, but I'm not thrilled by it. On lead shot? Tester should have tried selling the regulation of lead shot as **protecting more waterfowl for future hunters.** He never did.
Nov 11, 2012 02:35 PM
Ben, what polling data are you using to conclude that "the race came down to something that costs $19: A Montana resident hunting and fishing license"?

The exit polls show Tester did well with women, Independents, moderates, older voters, urban votes and minorities. I haven't seen any showing that hunters and anglers broke for him as a majority, a disproportionate percentage of their party affiliation, or in proportionally higher numbers than his previous election.

Tester lost 40 of 56 counties including the vast majority of rural Montana which has a higher number of per/capita hunters and anglers than its cities. He overcame this deficit by racking up a 37,000 vote margin in the counties containing Missoula, Butte, Bozeman, Helena and Great Falls, and a 7,000 vote margin in Native American dominated counties.

It's possible that urban hunters and fishers put Tester over the top, but in the absence of any data, it could just as well be wishful thinking.

. Rehberg won these traditional hunting and fish

by huge margin. Like Obama, he ran up the vote in urban areas.
JW Westman
JW Westman Subscriber
Nov 13, 2012 07:50 PM
All I can say it is very good to be rid of Dennis Rehberg, bye, bye Dennis.
 Kieran Suckling
Kieran Suckling Subscriber
Nov 13, 2012 09:02 PM
Is there polling data showing that hunters and anglers won the election for Tester? How do we know the didn't throw their weight behind Rehberg?
Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell
Nov 14, 2012 07:17 AM
Nate Silver Drunk shot a bullet at a 45 degree angle, five miles away an elk fell dead.

Well no one knows who or what had an affect on the election without exit polling and I don't think many were asking about Tester's strong advertising on Sportmans issues. One thing we do know, it was a big thing for the senator, and he won. I'm not sure where the higher population of sportmen live, in town or out, and I don't know if his support of hunting and fishing issues was enough re assurance for the voter with many competing issues to vote for him, but we do know he won, and that's good enough for me.
Heather Hansen
Heather Hansen
Nov 14, 2012 08:59 AM
Kieran – the demographics of hunters and anglers in the West and, specifically, Montana may defy the rural/urban stereotype. Over this past year I interviewed many avid hunters & anglers and of those in Montana 7/10 live in urban areas (an 8th lives in Lolo which isn’t exactly the sticks). This is purely anecdotal but perhaps indicative of a condition since I did not specifically seek out urban hunters.

An interesting study done by the National Shooting Sports Foundation seems to back this up—it shows that in the West (which in the study included only Colorado, Utah, Oregon and Montana) the distribution of resident hunters was: 48 percent rural, 28 percent suburban and 24 percent urban. This shows that 52 percent of avid hunters & anglers (defined by the study as those sportspeople who buy hunting licenses year after year) live in or just outside of cities in the West.

It would be great to know for sure but, at this moment, it’s premature to indict Mr. Long on this point. It seems highly feasible that the urban population of hunters & anglers could have put Tester over the top.
 Kieran Suckling
Kieran Suckling Subscriber
Nov 14, 2012 02:20 PM
I don't mean to indict Mr. Long. I just to point out that his strong assertions are not backed up any polling data. So it's not a matter of "knowing for sure," but of knowing at all.

Like so much of the punditry we saw leading up the election, it may be true, it may be not, but it certainly doesn't warrant strong affirmation. One can't help but suspect that the desire for it to be true reflects certain political commitments and communications strategies. It is fine to have those. But we need some data on the back end to know what the outcome was.

I'm actually surprised to see that the number of suburban and urban hunters and anglers in the West is just 52%. I would have thought more them resided there despite the per capita percent being higher in rural areas.

At any rate, what we know so far about Tester and Bullock voters tells us nothing about hunters and anglers broke for him in any statistically meaningful way. It is an important question to answer since considerable money was spent trying to make them break for Tester.
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Dec 28, 2012 08:17 AM
Ben: Looks like the title of your piece should've been "Secret, Anonymous Dark Money Sportsmen Group threatens American Democracy, seals reelection for Sen. Jon Tester." But then again, Ben Long would never do that to his friends, or bite the hand that feeds (er, funds) him.

This in-depth investigation reveals that we have secret, anonymous "Dark Money" groups and individuals threatening American Democracy living right here in Missoula and representing Montanans in our state house. Hopefully the Montana media, or HCN, will take this ball and run with it.

In Montana, Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat
By Kim Barker, ProPublica[…]rats-hold-a-key-senate-seat

Snips: "And in October, weeks after forming, the dark money side of Montana Hunters and Anglers, Montana Hunters and Anglers Action!, launched its first TV ad, starring Land Tawney, the group's gap-toothed and camouflage-sporting president, who also served on the Sportsmen's Advisory Panel for Tester.....No one from Montana Hunters and Anglers returned calls for comment....Many liberal groups active in Montana, including Montana Hunters and Anglers, were connected through Hilltop Public Solutions, a Beltway consulting firm. Barrett Kaiser, a former aide to Montana's other Democratic senator, Max Baucus, is a partner at Hilltop and runs its office in Billings....Kaiser was on the board of the Montana Hunters and Anglers dark money group. Another Hilltop employee in Billings served as the treasurer for the Montana Hunters and Anglers super PAC. Hilltop partners in Washington also helped run two other dark money groups that spent money on the Montana race: the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund and the Partnership to Protect Medicare....No one from Hilltop returned calls...."

Additional information about "Montana Hunters and Anglers Action" is below.

SNIPS: "Land Tawney of Missoula, president of the newly formed group.....Tawney, a senior manager for the National Wildlife Federation , wouldn’t reveal the cost of the buy, but sources told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau that it’s between $200,000 and $250,000….In addition to Tawney, its officers include Democratic state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk of Billings; Barrett Kaiser, a Billings communications consultant and former aide to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and George Cooper, a senior vice president for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm and former news producer for CNN."
Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
Dec 31, 2012 09:15 AM
Hello: Some of you might find this interesting as it relates to the National Wildlife Federation and Montana Hunters and Anglers censoring and removing comments on their social media sites that relate to ProPublica's investigative piece "In Montana, Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat."

As anyone can clearly see, if you simply highlight this article, Montana Hunters and Anglers will censor and remove your comments and forever ban you from commenting again. Why do you think that is? SOURCE:[…]/mt_hunters_anglers_censored.png.

However, if you want to go onto the Montana Hunters and Anglers social media sites and use this type of language, Montana Hunters and Anglers will do absolutely nothing to censor and remove this type of language or ban a future commenter: "Burns was a worthless f#%k whose first campaign was financed corruptly, he wh*&ed himself....he was a s*&t-kickin' inbred racist scum." Or this: "The problem is we keep a lying jac&^ss like Tester...I can hear those lying piece of crap bubble head bleach blondes now!!" Or this: "Tester should be rotting in a jail somewhere." SOURCE: http://ncfp.files.wordpress[…]_anglers_not_censored1.png.

Yep, this is the same type of censorship, removal of substantive comments and banning that we've witnessed for a few years now from those in Montana who are supporting Quid Pro Quo Wilderness. Groups such as Montana Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wilderness Association, Sportsmen for Montana, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, the National Wildlife Federation and others see nothing wrong with engaging in censorship to further their agenda. What does their censorship (and secret, Dark Money ways) really say about them, or the agenda they are pushing?