MEA-MFT’s candidate endorsements for 2012 fall elections

Don't be a "down-ballot dropout"
There are many hot races at the top of the ballot this fall. But some of the most important races are down the ballot. Don't be a dropout! Plan to vote all the way down the ballot this fall. Don't stop at the top!
Not sure where to vote? Wonder if you're registered? Curious about the status of your absentee ballot? Find all that info at the Secretary of State's web site (Click on "Start")
The stakes could not be higher
. The fate of your job; collective bargaining; public education and other public services; the state pay plan; your salary, benefits, and retirement; and Montana's middle class are all at stake. The contrast between candidates could not be starker.

We can't let Montana turn into Wisconsin, where thousands of public employees lost their rights, their jobs, their retirement, their dignity. But that's exactly what candidates like Rick Hill and Dennis Rehberg have in mind for Montana.

 What happened in Wisconsin? Watch here.

Your fellow MEA-MFT members did the research. They interviewed the candidates, and studied voting records and position statements. to determine which candidates will do the best job of supporting public education, public services, workers’ rights, and the middle class. Endorsements are based solely on issues. Personality and political party play no role. Your vote is your personal choice. Our priority is helping you understand where the candidates stand. Read more about the endorsement process here.

Below you'll find endorsements in legislative races, statewide races, and ballot measures for the November 2012 election.

Want a handy reference? Download and print this two-page flyer with all endorsements.


Click here to see legislative candidate endorsements in YOUR area.



News update: Bozeman Daily Chronicle endorses Steve Bullock.

Steve Bullock, Montana's current attorney general, is running for governor of Montana.

Steve has been an outstanding, nationally acclaimed attorney general. He has stood up to bullies—from sex predators and drug dealers to corporate CEOs who want to buy Montana’s elections.

Steve comes from a family of Montana educators and public servants. He knows the work MEA-MFT members do helps Montana families and businesses thrive.

He and his wife attended Montana public schools. Their children do too. He is the only candidate for governor who supports public schools. He is the only candidate who will oppose all legislative attempts to privatize our public schools.
Steve is the only candidate for governor who will defend public employees’ collective bargaining rights and honor the health care benefits and retirement pensions public employees have earned.

Steve's opponent has a very different agenda from Steve. His opponent, Rick Hill, would take money away from public schools and give it to private schools. He doesn't support the state pay plan. He thinks state employees are overpaid by $8,000/year on average. He would eliminate teachers' right to due process and end the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).

Rick Hill says he admires what Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did and wants to do the same in Montana!

Download this handout comparing Steve Bullock and opponent Rick Hill.
Here's what some of the MEA-MFT COPE Board members say about Steve:

“Steve Bullock is a national hero for standing up to the big corporate CEOS who want to buy our elections with their secret money. Montana is the only state in the nation to say citizens control our elections, not corporations. We have Steve to thank for it.” Ron Kimmet, Hardin

“Steve grew up in Montana, and he has three young children of his own growing up here. He wants Montana to be a place where all kids have the chance to reach their dreams. That means strong public schools, safe communities, and good jobs.” Mona Bilden, Miles City

Read more about Steve Bullock, meet his family, and see his priorities at

DENISE JUNEAU, Superintendent of Public Instruction

News update: Billings Gazette endorses Denise
Denise Juneau, and MEA-MFT member and former teacher, is running for a second term as Montana's superintendent of public instruction.

Denise is a star! She has confronted some of the biggest problems in our public schools with her innovative programs: Bully Free Montana and  Graduation Matters. After her first four years as state supe, Montana's dropout rate is on the decline, our test scores are up, and communities are rallying together to support student achievement and excellence in our public schools. 

She has pushed back against No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top mandates that emphasize standardized testing instead of learning. 

Denise is passionately committed to public education, the foundation of our democracy and the root of our middle class. She won’t let the next legislature give away public tax dollars to private, for-profit schools. 

Denise is a strong advocate for all public employees. She’s the only candidate for superintendent who adamantly supports public employees’ collective bargaining rights and teacher tenure. 

Denise's opponent, Sandy Welch, doesn’t believe in limiting class sizes. Welch supports private charter schools, which would take money from public schools. Welch wants to tie teacher evaluation to student test scores. She would encourage the next legislature to end teacher tenure.

Download this handout comparing Denise Juneau and Sandy Welch.

Here's what some of the COPE Board members say about Denise:
“Denise Juneau has proven herself to be a true champion for all Montana’s children and public schools. She knows the ropes, and she’s an innovator—an unbeatable combination.” Diane Elliott, Poplar

“Denise believes in doing school improvement with educators, not to them. She supports the people who work with school children every day—teachers and support staff—making sure they have the skills and resources to do their jobs well. Denise has put Montana on the map by standing up to punitive federal mandates in the No Child Left Behind law.” Mike Thiel, Kalispell

“I’m impressed with Denise’s work to promote innovation and new ideas in our schools, like the Montana Digital Academy, Bully Free Montana, and Graduation Matters Montana.” Dan Kelly, Deer Lodge

Learn more about Denise,
her accomplishments for Montana's students, educators, and schools as our superintendent, and her vision for the future of public education in Montana at her campaign web site:


LINDA McCULLOCH, Secretary of State

News update: Billings Gazette endorses Linda

Linda McCulloch is an MEA-MFT member, former superintendent of public instruction, former Montana legislator, and former teacher.

Here's what some of the COPE Board members say about Linda:
“Linda McCulloch is a real champion for voter’s rights. We’re seeing a rash of bad laws nationwide that make it harder for people to vote, especially older folks, college students, and people with disabilities. Linda won’t let that happen in Montana. She believes any eligible voter who wants to vote should be allowed to vote.” Rich Aarstad, Helena

“Linda has emphasized clean, fair, honest, and open elections and accessible voter information.  She brought Montana elections into the 21st century. The secretary of state’s web site now allows eligible Montana voters to check the status of their registration, find out where they vote, and lots more.” Jeff Greenfield, Billings

Learn more about Linda at the secretary of state web site:


PAM BUCY, Montana Attorney General

News update: Billings Gazette endorses Pam Bucy

Pam Bucy has dedicated her career to public service. She has been a staunch advocate for public services and public education in Montana. 
Pam previously worked for former Attorney General Mike McGrath, serving as his chief deputy. She knows the ropes! She argued historic cases before the Montana Supreme Court, including the infamous CI-97/TABOR initiative that would have crushed public services in Montana. With Pam’s help, MEA-MFT was able to prove fraudulent signature gathering and get this bad initiative thrown off the ballot. 

As a private practice attorney, Pam represented MEA-MFT members (correctional officers at Montana State Prison) in fighting mandatory overtime. Pam currently serves as Administrative Counsel for the Montana Dept. of Labor and Industry.

What COPE Board members say:
"Pam Bucy was instrumental in working to pass a bipartisan workers' comp reform bill, as well as making the case to the Supreme Court to provide adequate funding to Montana's schools. Pam has been a strong voice for Montana workers and students for years," said Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT. 

Learn more about Pam at

MONICA LINDEEN, State Auditor/Securities & Insurance Commissioner

News update: Billings Gazette endorses Lindeen

Monica Lindeen is running for a second term as Montana's state auditor/securities and insurance commissioner.

Here's what some of the COPE Board members say about Monica:
“Monica Lindeen has an impressive record of standing up for Montana citizens, protecting them from investment fraud, Ponzi schemes, and abuses by some insurance and securities companies,” Janice Muller, Hamilton
“Monica has been terrific in her work to keep health care costs from bankrupting Montana families.” Terry Minow, Boulder

Learn more
about Monica at

KIM GILLAN, Congress

Kim Gillan is a longtime friend of public education and public services.

During her years in the legislature, she worked with Republicans and Democrats to make life better for Montana families.

She fought with the insurance companies and won, requiring them to cover autism and diabetes.

She successfully fought for improved job training opportunities for Montanans.

Kim Gillan will protect Medicare and speak up for Montana’s working families. MEA-MFT is proud to endorse Kim Gillan, an experienced, independent fighter, to represent Montana in Congress. Learn more about Kim at 


Jon Tester, a former teacher and farmer from Big Sandy, is running for a second term as Montana's U.S. Senator.

All of Montana's major newspapers have endorsed Jon Tester for Senate. Read more here.

What some MEA-MFT COPE Board members say about Jon:
“Jon Tester is the right candidate on our issues. He’s right on education, right on public services, right on jobs, and right on the rights of working people to bargain collectively.” Mike Picking, Great Falls

“Senator Tester has worked hard to make college more affordable for Montana families.” Mary Verploegen, Havre

“Senator Tester respects the essential work public employees do.” Jill Cohenour, East Helena

“As a combat veteran myself, I cannot be grateful enough for Senator Tester’s commitment to veterans’ health care. He also sponsored the ‘VOW to Hire Heroes Act’ that provides job and training for veterans. It passed Congress unanimously.” MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver, Helena

Learn more
about Jon Tester at his web site:

ED SHEEHY, Montana Supreme Court Justice 

Ed Sheehy has 34 years of experience as an attorney. He was born in Montana and understands the state, the issues, and the people. 

Ed is a dedicated professional. In September of 2007, he was awarded the George L. Bousliman Professionalism Award by the State of Montana for establishing a reputation and tradition of professionalism in the practice of law.

Ed has handled legal issues in front of school boards, city and county commissioners, and state agencies.

Ed Sheehy has the breadth of experience; and knowledge of the law, legal procedures, and the legal system needed in order to be a great Supreme Court justice. Learn more about Ed:


BRIAN MORRIS, Montana Supreme Court Justice

Brian Morris is an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He was elected in 2004 and his term ends in 2012.

MEA-MFT COPE voted to support Brian in the 2012 election. He has been an excellent justice. 
State law requires that in any general election in which an incumbent judge whose term is up is unchallenged, he or she is subject to a "retention election." Voters will have the opportunity to vote Yes, to retain Brian Morris, or No, to not retain Brian Morris.

MEA-MFT recommends members vote YES, to retain Brian Morris.



NO on LR-121. Don't force state employees to be immigration agents.
Legislative Referedum 121, another bad idea from the right-wing majority in the 2011 Montana Legislature, will appear on the November ballot.   Basically, LR 121 would force Montana state employees and college & university staff to become immigration agents. 

LR 121 would “deny certain state services to illegal aliens.” If LR-121 passed, it would mandate that state and university employees determine a person’s status when that person applied for state services, including attendance at any public university, student financial assistance, issuance of a state license or permit to practice a trade or profession, unemployment insurance benefits, vocational rehabilitation, services for victims of crime, or services for the physically disabled.

Determining citizenship or authorized status has always been the job of the federal government. Under LR-121, the burden would fall on the state – meaning, state employees. 

If a state employee was unsure of a person’s status, the employee would have to check identity against a federal database and then report the person to immigration and customs enforcement if something does not match up.

LR-121 is complex, irresponsible, expensive, and unnecessary. MEA-MFT COPE recommends a NO vote on LR-121.


YES on I-166: Stop unlimited corporate spending on campaigns.

Montana’s elections are under assault from Big Money. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for corporate money. The Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as people, and that unlimited corporate political spending equates to constitutionally protected free speech. 

It’s time to fight back. Thousands of Montanans signed petitions to put I-166 on the November ballot because corporations are not people. Corporations shouldn’t be granted the same rights as people, and they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to buy elections. 
Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy saying corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings. I-166 charges Montana elected and appointed officials with implementing that policy. With this policy, the people of Montana establish that there should be a level playing field in campaign spending, in part by prohibiting corporate campaign contributions and expenditures and by limiting political spending in elections.

I-166 also calls on Montana’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing that corporations are not human beings entitled to constitutional rights. 
Corporations are NOT people. Corporations do not breathe, they do not have children, they do not die fighting in wars for our country. Montanans don’t want them to vote, or influence votes. We haven’t since we passed our state Corrupt Practices Act in 1912. 

Corporate money corrupts our democracy. Corporations are now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates who, when elected, owe the corporations favors. That’s not right. MEA-MFT COPE recommends a YES vote on I-166.

Download I-166 flyer here. Learn more at


LR 123 is DEAD!  Montana Supreme Court rules it blatantly unconstitutional

MEA-MFT led the charge in killing this bad initiative. LR 123 was a parting gift from right-wing Montana senator Joe Balyeat, who recently resigned his senate seat to work for Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the ultra-right-wing billionaire Koch brothers.

LR 123 would have wreaked havoc on Montana's state budget. It would have given automatic tax kickbacks to the wealthiest Montanans no matter what the state's needs are, even if it meant draining funds for public schools, firefighting, higher education, and all state services. 

Good riddance to this bad idea! Read more about LR 123 here.


Questions about candidate endorsements, the endorsement process, LR123? Contact MEA-MFT Political Director Terry Minow. 800.398.0826, 406.457.4562, or