This past Election Day, Republicans not only took the majority in the US Senate and expanded their existing advantage in the House of Representatives, they also handily defeated Democrats at the state and local levels. State legislatures across the nation, already dominated by Republicans, became even redder after Tuesday. Just as we saw in the national elections, GOP candidates used President Obama and his policies as negatives against Democrats, and the Dems mostly used the strategy of distancing themselves from POTUS rather than embracing his and the party’s accomplishments and achievements.
One election where a Democratic seat was flipped red was Montana’s District 32 State House race. The district is home to a couple of Indian reservations and has consistently been a reliable Democratic stronghold. In the past, Republicans rarely even ran a candidate and the Democratic primary generally determined who would represent the district. However, this time around, Gilbert Bruce Meyers threw his hat in the ring to take on incumbent Democrat Clarena Brockie, who was finishing up her first term as State Rep. Meyers, a Native American and former director of the state’s Indian Affairs department, defeated Brockie in a close election that was decided by a handful of votes.
Prior to and immediately after the election, there was no mention of a particularly troubling bit of information from Meyers’ past. Meyers was convicted of assault on a minor and sentenced to four years in prison. The conviction was over an incident of him abusing his eight-year-old son in 2005. The sentence was suspended on the condition that he does not reside in Broadwater County, where his wife and five children lived, and he paid restitution to his family. Per court records, Meyers’ wife at the time said that her and the children were all victims of his mental and physical abuse and that the children were scared to ride their bikes or sleep in their beds if they thought Meyers was in town.
For some reason, this information was never brought to the attention of voters. The Havre Daily News, the local newspaper, ran a profile piece on Meyers a week before the election highlighting his accomplishments and showing his positions on specific issues. However, not one mention was made of his conviction, which would seem to be something voters in the district really should have been told. The paper’s post-election piece also failed to bring up his past as a child abuser.
On Thursday, Cowgirl Blog, a political blog in Montana, posted publicly accessible information about Meyers. Doing a simple Google search, the site was able to pull up Meyers’ profile on the state’s website for correctional offenders. They also provided a link to Meyers’ court file from his conviction. Obviously, this is information that Brockie and state Democrats should have used against Meyers in the campaign. The fact that they didn’t is likely because they didn’t know of it, showing what a poor job they did at researching their opponent.
However, why didn’t the local media, especially the area’s newspaper, report on this at all? Considering that a political blog was able to easily find this information, shouldn’t the paper, prior to speaking with Meyers for the profile piece, have done at least an internet search of Meyers? Shouldn’t voters have been made aware of Meyers’ past prior to going to the polls on Election Day? When you consider all of the meaningless information that media outlets focus on when it comes to candidates these days, it seems almost criminally negligent that this information was not made public prior to Meyers getting elected.
H/T Cowgirl Blog