Thursday, April 20, 2017
It's a winnable race
Montana may appear to be Republican territory, but Rob Quist, Democratic candidate for Montana's sole House seat intends to appeal to his fellow Montanans independent streak, the same one that elected a Democratic governor and senator.
Rob Quist surveyed his audience last week at an annual powwow of Montana’s Native American tribes, a kaleidoscope of feathers, moccasins and beads, before turning his thoughts to a very different audience, far to the east: the national Democratic Party.Mr Gianforte, a transplanted tech billionaire from California, may be spending a Montana shit ton of money on TV but he has not been doing public events among the people who didn't vote for him once already. Rob Quist, Montana born, has been traveling the state meeting the people he is asking to vote for him, something people in Montana enjoy and appreciate. The national party should be giving him whatever help he wants.
“They’ve been on the sidelines a little too long, and it’s time for them to get in the game,” said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana’s at-large House seat.
But, he predicted, “they’re coming in.”
“I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense to spend resources where you don’t have a shot at winning,” Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, said. “People tend to get disappointed.”
Mr. Clyburn noted that few leading Kansas Democrats said they “thought they were headed to a victory” rather than just a “closer than expected” finish.
But that is not the case in Montana, where a preference for Republican presidential candidates belies the state’s enduring Democratic tradition. Its governor, Steve Bullock, is a Democrat. One of its senators, Jon Tester, is a Democrat. And now its one House seat is vacant.
“National folks should be coming in here,” Governor Bullock said. “It is a winnable race.”
Mr. Bullock should know. His re-election last year, by four percentage points against the Republican Greg Gianforte, was the fourth consecutive gubernatorial race that Democrats have won in Big Sky country. The state has also not sent two Republican senators to Washington at the same time since the Constitution was amended to require the popular election of senators.
Yet to the frustration of Democrats here, Mr. Quist has received no defense from national third-party groups — and he’s running against Mr. Gianforte, who was just beaten statewide. Mr. Gianforte and three Washington-based conservative organizations have spent more than $1.4 million on television and radio since February, much of it attacking Mr. Quist.
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