Introducing Politics in the 406

Welcome to Politics in the 406. Politics is always a divisive issue and perhaps nowhere more so than on a college campus. My name is Schuyler Kinneman and I don’t want to talk about politics. However, I would like to discuss both sides of the issues that affect MSU students everyday.

I will be writing a column on matters such as the state legislature in Helena and the budget or candidates and their stances on higher education. This won’t be a column talking about why gay marriage is good or bad or whether or not stricter gun control laws should be enacted. Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow already do it for you. However, nowhere do you find a national recurring source of information to wade through education issues. I hope to be that for you.

Let’s start with Governor Steve Bullock appointing Board of Regents chairwoman Angela McLean as Lieutenant Governor. McLean took over for John Walsh, who has just been sworn in to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus. MSU President Waded Cruzado congratulated her almost immediately with several others quickly following suit.

The appointment of a Regents chairwoman should seem important, but the powers of a Lieutenant Governor under the Montana State Constitution are pretty much summed up in a simple statement under Article VI Section 4 Sub-section 2: “The lieutenant governor shall perform the duties provided by law and those delegated to him by the governor.” In practice that means very little in terms of political power for Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean. Although higher education proponents are cheering Governor Bullock’s appointment to the position, it most likely doesn’t mean much for students at the end of the day.

During the 2012 cycle, the Democratic candidate Bullock beat the Republican candidate, Rick Hill, by a margin of 2,515 votes in Gallatin County. Bozeman is represented by House Districts 63 through 66, and all these districts have portions centered around MSU or areas in which students live. These districts and the two Senate districts 32 and 33 are represented by Democrats. The same breakdown follows roughly in Missoula.

While students and Montana’s “urban” vote are heavily democratic, getting these two groups to increase their turnout on election day is key for Democrats. Steve Bullock knows this and his appointment of McLean tells students that he hasn’t forgotten about higher education. In 2016, when he comes up for re-election, the more students and professionals in higher education that remember this appointment and vote, the better Bullock’s re-election chances will be.

That’s your tidbit of politics for the week; check back later at Politics in the 406 for more!