Montana special election – As Bernie Sanders campaigns for Quist, GOP doubles down on Trump
Montana voters gave Donald Trump a 20-point margin over Hillary Clinton in November. But the red-leaning state is not the lockstep GOP stronghold that Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho are. Otherwise, Jon Tester would not be a twice-elected Democratic senator from Big Sky Country and Steve Bullock wouldn’t be the twice-elected Democratic governor. On the other hand, since 1994 no Democrat has won the congressional seat that Gianforte and Quist are contesting in the special election coming up May 25th.
The seat was vacated by Republican Ryan Zinke in March when he accepted appointment as secretary of the Interior Department. Matt Volz and Nicholas Riccardi report:
When Donald Trump visited to Montana last year ahead of the state’s Republican presidential primary, technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte was running on the GOP ticket for governor and made it a point to avoid his party’s likely presidential nominee. Gianforte later reluctantly pledged support for Trump, but tried to distance himself from him during an unsuccessful campaign to unseat the state’s Democratic governor.
Now, the multimillionaire technology entrepreneur is trying to win an open seat in Congress and has gone all in on Trump.
Gianforte has co-opted the president’s “drain the swamp” catchphrase, pledged to advance Trump’s agenda and brought in Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. for campaign rallies ahead of Thursday’s special election against Democrat Rob Quist.
As they write, in tying himself to Trump so firmly Gianforte is taking a risk.
Polls have for nearly a month been showing a narrowing, single-digit gap between the candidates.
The outcome depends to some extent on how Montanans view the turmoil created by Trump as revelations appear in the media practically every day about his connections to Russian oligarchs, divulging of highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and a series of stumbles on policy and personnel.
Meanwhile, Quist’s campaign announced Thursday that it has raised $5 million, so far, what Political Director David Nir described as “a truly insane sum for such a cheap state.“ The vast bulk of that money has come from a small-donor campaign network that includes .
Quist is a supporter of Bernie Sanders, and the senator arrived Saturday for two days of joint appearances with the candidate. Among the four events where he will talk up Quist will be the Truman Dinner in Billings, the sprawling state’s largest city. On Sunday, he will speak in Bozeman at Montana State University. Sanders said in April:
“Rob Quist is the only person in this race who understands that we need a government in Washington that works for all Montanans and all Americans and not just the special interests and the billionaire class.”
(Originally appeared at DailyKos)