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Montana US House race sparks record campaign spending
25 May 2017, 01:51 | Dan Bryan
The fight to keep public lands in public hands is at the heart of Montana special election
Those polls have generally shown the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte leading Democrat Rob Quist by a narrow margin, a result which is somewhat surprising given that the Cook Political Report has given the Montana At-Large District an R+11 District, which generally means that this should be an easy win for a Republican candidate.
Republican Greg Gianforte's closing motivational speech to voters ahead of Thursday's special House election in Montana is the same thing GOP strategists are whispering in private: "This race is closer than it should be".
While Donald Trump Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence have campaigned for Gianforte, the race has been less about Trump, given that he won the state easily. Quist, for example, has raised $5 million in small contributions.
The upcoming Special Election for Montana's one and only member of Congress is of great importance to all.
"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 GOP Sen.
Democrats aren't as bullish about victory as they've been in previous special elections this year. "There is a slight advantage, based historically, that there has been more "republican" ballots returned, but there is technically no republican ballot and, as you know, Montana is fiercely independent an people will vote fore whomever they want".
Quist's main opponent in Thursday's election is Republican Greg Gianforte, who has campaigned for repealing the ACA, also known as "Obamacare".
In an interview aboard his RV, Quist allowed as how a longer campaign would have given him pause.
Gianforte supports the Republicans' recently passed health care bill, has stood against anti-discrimination laws in Bozeman and is seen by many as a Trump surrogate.
On a recent weekday afternoon, sheep and other livestock outnumbered fewer than a dozen locals who turned out at an organic farm to hear Democrat Rob Quist and his attack on House Republicans' healthcare overhaul.
In California yesterday, state Democrats apparently elected state party vice chairman Eric Bauman to serve as the new chairman, edging out Kimberly Ellis, a Bernie Sanders supporter from the Bay Area, Ellis, however, has not conceded the race, and has "been in touch with attorneys". And even though President Donald Trump won the state by more than 20 percentage points, its incumbent Democratic governor also won re-election in November.
Gianforte, for his part, didn't help himself when he claimed to be undecided on the House bill and then was heard, on a tape recording obtained by The New York Times, offering supportive remarks to a group of Republican-leaning Washington lobbyists. Quist is liberal Democrat who advocates for public health care.
She said that Billings was the peppiest crowd out of the three Montana stops. Where Christine ("I'm not a witch") O'Donnell cost the Republicans a winnable 2010 Senate seat in DE, a left-wing 2018 Democratic counterpart may have to declare, "I am not a Wiccan".
Still, the strategist cautioned, there is plenty of time to right the ship, and improve the political environment, before the midterms.
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