Bundy fan Jennifer Fielder, Non-loon Monica Tranel

The daily paper for Montana's Greater Missoula Metro Region, the sensibly named Missoulian, raised a few eyebrows Sunday with its endorsement of Republican Jennifer Fielder for the District 4 seat on the Montana Public Service Commission. Generally, elections for regulatory bodies like the Public Service Commission (Motto: "We Regulate Public Services. In Montana.") don't draw a lot of attention, but it's not every day that a newspaper endorsement has to acknowledge a chosen candidate has quite so much colorful background that voters may need to overlook. Fielder, a state senator who can't run again because of term limits, is chief executive of the "American Lands Council," a Koch-funded group that yearns to transfer federal lands to state and local governments, to then be sold to the highest bidder. But Fielder has promised to step down from that job! Besides, the endorsement went on, surely voters can overlook a couple of other minor matters:

Fielder's critics are troubled by her affiliation with this group and others, such as the Coalition of Western Property Owners that invited members of the Bundy family to speak in Paradise a couple of years ago. Her staunch support for transferring management of federal land to the states is certainly unpopular, and recently, she helped spread baseless rumors about Antifa supposedly traveling to Missoula to foment violence around the Black Lives Matter protests.

Other than holding wildly unpopular opinions, hanging out with domestic terrorists, and spreading unfounded rumors of the sort that have led to armed vigilantism across the West, she's a pretty solid choice.

A note at the end of the endorsement added that the Missoulian's editorial board had made its endorsements without the input of the paper's executive editor, Gwen Florio, who was off reporting on election stories. Funny thing, though: Florio was paying enough attention that she resigned in protest. And the Missoulian heard from lots of readers and Missoula-area business leaders who were plenty cheesed off by the endorsement, too, as these emojis clearly indicate:

So the paper reversed itself Monday and endorsed Monica Tranel, the Democrat in the race. The original endorsement is still online, but with every word struck through and a link to the new endorsement.

What do the editors have to say for themselves? Pretty much the same things they previously framed as minor details that voters might need to overlook, except now the editors think those are deal-breakers.

The Missoulian determined that it failed to give proper weight to Fielder's connection with groups such the Coalition of Western Property Owners and the Bundy family that led an armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in 2016. She also recently helped spread baseless rumors about Antifa supposedly traveling to Missoula to foment violence at Black Lives Matter protests, which encouraged militia-style groups to attend those protests.

The Missoulian has staunchly supported Black Lives Matter peaceful protests and opposed the activities of the Bundy family and other groups posing a threat to our government. Fielder also actively supports transferring management of federal lands to the state government, which the Missoulian has long opposed.

Oh, yeah, those editorial positions. Presumably, Florio's resignation helped the editors remember them. The new endorsement adds, "The Missoulian erred in its initial endorsement and is rescinding it. In short, we blew it." Fact check: True!

Also, the endorsement of Tranel says she "readily acknowledges climate change is happening," which seems like a useful thing for a utility regulator to be aware of. By contrast, Fielder's campaign site features a video of her speaking at the Heartland Institute, one of the top climate-denying lobbies. They're the nice folks whose billboards reminded Americans the Unabomber "believes in" global warming.

Seems like that's something that should have come up as the editorial board considered an endorsement, too. ("Climate" isn't mentioned in the now-reversed endorsement, which had called Fielder "a breath of fresh air." Beautiful carbon-rich air.)

We weren't able to find any response from Fielder on being unendorsed, mostly because we didn't look, but you'll be delighted to know her campaign website is still running its raffle for an honest-to god gun that you can take to defend your town from antifa riots:

The authentic Western Heirloom (tickets $20 or 10 for $100) is for

an 1892 Winchester clone .44 Magnum take-down carbine lever gun (8 + 1 capacity) with Skinner Sights. The "take-down" (2-piece) firearm can be carried in a compact case and easily assembled in seconds. No tools required! Plus, it's an engraved TRUMP 2020 special edition with a matching RAT 7 knife, AND the kit also includes a compass, mil spec cord, and emergency tube shelter, pocket stove with fuel cells, magnesium striker, and storm-proof flare matches. All items fit snugly into a durable 22" compact carrying case (included)! Firearm made in Italy. Sights and all other items made in the USA.

If that doesn't scream "Public Service Commission," we don't know what does.

[Missoulian via Anne Helen Petersen on Twitter / Mother Jones / Missoulian / Missoulian]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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