by William Skink
The big trick for Democrats this year is how to get progressives to support their candidates while simultaneously punching them in the face, figuratively speaking. In Montana it’s going to be doubly difficult, since we’re a unique shade of purple when it comes to party politics.
The blog that bills itself as progressive politics from the Big Sky, The Montana Post, has traditionally been a democratic herding platform for years. Thanks to an email from an astute reader, today’s post will be looking at the political work of an infrequent Montana Post writer, Pete Talbot, and his sister, Deborah Frandsen.
The RD reader who emailed me explained how Pete Talbot, along with Jim Parker, started a consulting company called Westridge Creative, which offers its clients “a new approach to community, commerce and communication.” The link is to a one page slide that simply has contact info. I wouldn’t even call it a website.
In searching around online, I found a decade old letter to the editor about Talbot and Parker’s political endeavor from a Warren Little. Here is a portion of the letter:
Re: the Nov. 10 letter from Peter Talbot whining about guest columnist Carl Graham’s failure to fully disclose his “far right” bias as president of the Montana Policy Institute over in Bozeman (guest column, Nov. 5).
I wish we had a nickel for every time Talbot and his fellow New Party cohort, Jim Parker, failed to fully disclose their “far left” bias in their efforts to take over the Missoula Democratic Central Committee, the Missoula City Council and the local school board.
Their campaign organization, Westridge Creative, has handled the political campaigns of a number of candidates of their persuasion and voters must be continually vigilant to out these sleeper candidates. “Aboveboard and accurate” does not seem to be a hallmark of their efforts.
To bolster Little’s claims, a Missoula Current article from two years ago highlights problems with T.J. McDermott’s campaign for Sheriff. Guess what name pops up in the campaign violation complaint? (my emphasis):
In his complaint, Wafstet also alleges that McDermott failed to list expenditures or debt for campaign signs. He also believes that a $3,360 expenditure to Westridge Creative for “project management” failed to include the specific services performed by the agency.
“As the chief law enforcement officer in Missoula County, Sheriff McDermott has a duty and responsibility to understand and abide by all laws in order to maintain the faith and trust of the public in the office of sheriff,” Wafstet said.
To understand Pete Talbot’s political work in Missoula it helps to know his parental pedigree. Turns out Pete Talbot’s family has deep media/political ties. Here’s a piece from MTPR about daddy and mommy Talbot:
The Talbots are being recognized for their long and generous service to both the university and the community. John Talbot is a former publisher of the Missoulian newspaper, and the journalism building on the University of Montana campus is named after Sue Talbot’s father, Don Anderson, a well-known newspaperman. The Talbots have supported and been active in dozens of community and university organizations. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with the Talbots about their love of UM and Missoula, and why they think both the town and gown have a bright future.
With this impressive pedigree, is it any wonder the kids got into politics?
Placating progressives for the good of the Democratic party must be in the Talbot DNA. Talbot’s sister, Deborah Frandsen, is the regional director for Senator Jon Tester. Her name popped up last year when those pesky progressive pipeline opponents were making demands:
The Sunrise Movement asks politicians nationwide to pledge to refuse contributions of more than $200 from fossil fuel industry corporations or PACs.
Tester regional director Deborah Frandsen met the protesters and invited them into the office, where Giacone read their letter aloud. Giacone and others requested that Tester respond with a personal letter or email either saying he will no longer support the pipeline or explaining why he feels it necessary to do so.
“We’re tired of automated letters. We want an actual response from our senator,” said one protester. “The only time we got a real response was when we talked to him at the town hall, when he said he still supports the Keystone XL.”
After all the protesters signed the letter, Frandsen said she’d get it to the senator. She added that Tester tries to get to all parts of the state for his town halls, but he just held one in Missoula in June so he is unlikely to come back for a while.
Isn’t this family affair a nice set up? Pete Talbot can write up progressive posts supporting green environmental policies while his sister placates the Sunrise Movement for Tester’s office.
In Missoula, I’m hearing rumors that T.J. McDermott might be interested in running for Mayor. If he does, will Westridge Creative be involved? Will Pete Talbot?
Now that I have a better idea of what to look for when it comes to local political operators, you better believe I will be paying close attention to how Missoula Democrats operate.
Thank you, astute reader of RD.
And if any other readers would like to help keep me informed, contact me at here: willskink at yahoo dot com.