Nov. 6 was the 50th anniversary of Forrest H. Anderson’s election as Montana governor. He is remembered as one the most effective governors in transforming and streamlining Montana state government.
Anderson was an effective winner all the way. He was Lewis and Clark County attorney, a legislator, a two term Supreme Court justice, three term Montana attorney general, and governor from 1969-1973. In 1968 he ran against State Senate Majority Leader Gene Mahoney in the Democratic primary. Mahoney had the support of the Montana Labor Unions, but with Anderson’s great name recognition and qualifications, he narrowly won.
In the 1968 general election against incumbent Governor Tim Babcock, Anderson used the memorable slogan "Pay More? What For?" It was aimed directly at Babcock’s support for a sales tax. Anderson won by a solid 54 percent to 42 percent margin. Sage Advertising handled Anderson’s advertising campaign and created the “Pay More? What For?” slogan, said to be Montana’s best ever.
Governor Anderson spearheaded the consolidation of the 161 independent state government boards, bureaus and commissions into 19 departments. Sage created the "Twenty’s Plenty” slogan for the initiative advertising theme. It won by a 2-1 margin in the 1970 election.
Another important Anderson legacy was his creation of the Montana Board of Investments. For decades Montana law required state money to be deposited in no or low interest paying bank accounts throughout Montana. Thanks to Anderson, the unified high-yield investment programs for state funds have grown from $321 million in 1970 to $18 billion presently.
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In the 1971 Legislature, Republicans supported a 2 percent sales tax in place of the reduction of the 40 percent state income tax to 10 percent. Anderson forced it to go to the voters. It was turned down by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin. That set up a Democratic majority of delegates for the 1972 Constitutional Convention, which Anderson fully supported.
Anderson suggested Sage Advertising help the Con Con delegates spread the word about the proposed new, groundbreaking constitution. There were no funds available, so we donated our time. I contacted all my Montana Broadcasting radio and television friends, and most of them agreed to carry the free public service advertising we prepared, supporting the new constitution. Unheard of since the FCC Equal Time Fairness Doctrine, but legal in 1972. With the help of these tens of thousands dollars of free radio and television ads, Montana’s new, 1972 Constitution won by a narrow 2,552 votes.
The Montana Television Network has devoted their Sunday “Face the State" news program to Forrest Anderson’s 50th anniversary since his election as Montana governor. It will air Dec. 16 at 6:30 a.m. on KXLH-TV channels 8 and 508, and 10 p.m. on KTVH-TV channels 12 and 512. Several of Anderson’s television commercials, which have been restored by the Montana Historical Society, will be aired. Interviewed will be Alec Hanson, Newell Anderson and Bob Henkel.
Bob Henkel of Sage Advertising provided advertising services to Forrest Anderson on his programs from 1968-1972. He is founder and manager of Old Glory Landmark. You can reach him at email@example.com.