Dems look for win in Trump country -- starting in Montana

Bernie Sanders Draws Big Crowds For Rob Quist As Montana Special Election Gets Closer To Toss Up

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaign alongside Rob Quist, a career musician who is running for the open U.S. House seat in Thursday's upcoming special election. As candidates, we have a down-to-earth individual who truly cares about Montana - a true Montanan - ROB QUIST; and we have a wealthy import, Greg Gianforte, who just last fall tried to buy Montana's governorship, and who is now trying to buy Montana's only seat in Congress.

When Donald Trump visited to Montana past 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.

The chairman of the Montana Democratic Party, Jim Larson, said many people have shifted their opinions about the election.

If the Republicans hang on to the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the sighs of relief from imperiled GOP incumbents may set off every wind chime in the D.C. area.

Each candidate has raised about $3 million. "Montana has only one representative, so it's important that we get it right".

"There's been so much money thrown at this race - it's the most expensive race in Montana's history and the shortest race in Montana's history - [that] it's reached a saturation point", said Montana Republican Sen.

This in turn has prompted Republicans to pump money into ad campaigns, with concern growing about turnout rates for an election that is being held on the eve of a bank holiday weekend. Considering that Montana has produced two Democratic governors in recent years (Brian Schweitzer and Steve Bullock), the notion that a Democrat could also be elected to the state's congressional seat is not entirely implausible.

While Quist avoids mention of Trump - he said nothing the day news broke of the president's alleged effort to stymie an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election - he has made the House Republican health care bill a centerpiece of his campaign. Among the four events where he will talk up Quist will be the Truman Dinner in Billings, the sprawling state's largest city.




Indeed, "the stakes may have even gotten higher in the Montana U.S. House", Forbes' Bruce Japsen reported Sunday, as the U.S. House will have to pass whatever version of the bill the Senate produces.

Both elections are to replace lawmakers who resigned in order to join Trump's cabinet.

The state runs red and Mr. Trump won here by 20 points in November.

But rural areas in the northern part of the county vote overwhelmingly for Republican candidates.

Democrats have tried to spin Quist's financial struggles, arguing that those tough times have allowed him to better understand the lives of everyday Montanans.

Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is a veteran of Politics Daily, USA Today, Time, Newsweek and The Washington Post.

Gianforte faces off against Democrat Rob Quist on Thursday. Gianforte has allied himself with Trump, telling a campaign rally this month that he wanted to "help Donald Trump drain the swamp out there".

Another Republican strategist working on the 2018 midterms took a dim view of the Republican campaigns in both Georgia and Montana.

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