In the past 30 years, Montana has gone from a state where Democrats could win the Legislature and most statewide offices to one where Republicans now talk about their hope of controlling all levers of government. Yet, Montana is still not yet considered a ruby “red” state like many of its neighbors, where conservative policy and Republican control is a given. What’s behind this change in the political landscape of the Big Sky State? What makes Montana different from the Idahos and Wyomings of the western world? And, what role might the media play in helping Montanans decide which path they choose?
Mike Dennison, chief political reporter for the Montana Television Network, has spent most of the past three decades reporting on politics and public policy in Montana, for newspapers, television and the wire services, and this year released his new book, “Inside Montana Politics: A Reporter’s View from the Trenches.” He talks about the trends that have shaped the political landscape in Montana, including figures and events covered in his book, and how the media report on politics.