Democratic Senate Candidate on Obamacare: "It Hasn't Worked."

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 13 2013 10:54 AM

Democratic Senate Candidate on Obamacare: "It Hasn't Worked."

I'm spending most of the day at RootsCamp, the lefty gathering of campaign workers and online strategists—people who do stuff, generally—that has grown large enough to occupy much of the Washington Convention Center. It's also started to attract Republican strategists, who have pined for similar organizing energy on their side, in vain, for years. And it attracted at least one candidate, former Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, who's now running for U.S. Senate.

"Harry Reid called me and said, we already have our candidate," Bohlinger told me, pausing between meetings and being complimented for his red/white/blue donkey bow tie. True, the D.C. party likes current Lt. Gov. John Walsh as its contender for the open seat. Bohlinger's trying to break out of the "challenger" rut by talking up a constitutional amendment that would codify privacy rights and protect online communication. As we talked about personal data, I asked how he'd talk to Montana voters about the Affordable Care Act.

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"We know that the Affordable Care Act has met with a great deal of resistence in Montana," he said, carefully. "People are disappointed that it hasn't been able to deliver what was promised. We know that—oh, gosh, more than 30,000 Montanans have had their insurance policies canceled."

"It's 38,000 now," interjected Bohlinger's strategist Bob Brigham.

"And the new insurance is more expensive than the old insurance," said the candidate. "It hasn't worked. We're strong advocates of a single-payer system. Medicare works for me." Bohlinger went on, talking about how Montana had invested in hospitals for state employees, and how one of them had outfitted him with a titanium hip. "My out-of-pocket cost was $300."

So: That's one red-state Democratic take on Obamacare for 2014.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.