Bernie Sanders rallies for Rob Quist in Billings

by Marta Holmes May 25, 2017, 1:29
Bernie Sanders rallies for Rob Quist in Billings

And while a group of Democratic lawmakers is calling for Trump's impeachment, congressional leaders have tried to tamp down those cries. 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. There is no major scandal attached to Gianforte's campaign, but the headline writer went ahead and conflated them, as well as some silly "Russia ties" to appear more Trumpian.

"It always comes back to kitchen table issues", said Democratic strategist Lynda Tran.

The candidates are running to replace Republican Ryan Zinke, the Whitefish native who left Congress to become interior secretary under the Trump administration, thus leaving the state's at-large seat vacant and setting a rare special election in motion.

Trump won the state by a healthy 56%-35% and his approval rating is still above water in internal polls from both parties. But Montanans are famously independent, a tradition strengthened during the days when a copper company ran state politics, fueling a strong labor culture and a distrust of corporations. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has represented Montana for two terms, as has Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who defeated Republican businessman Greg Gianforte previous year by four points.

Gianforte has been in the political spotlight for a couple of years since entering the 2016 governor's race, which he lost in November to Democrat incumbent Steve Bullock.

In a last-minute turn, local authorities are investigating robocalls reportedly made by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on behalf of Gianforte. He has promoted his Washington outsider status, touted the jobs he created in Montana, and has borrowed Trump's "drain the swamp" credo.

GOP outside groups have spent millions of dollars propping up Gianforte and attacking Democratic nominee Rob Quist, while Quist has tapped into similar donor enthusiasm seen in Georgia to raise $6 million in just a few months. Quist has his own controversies involving debts and tax liens.

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Gianforte's campaign said it has raised about $4.6 million, including a last-minute loan of $500,000 from Gianforte. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended up putting $600,00 into the campaign in Montana, and the House Majority PAC has been running ads in the state, the latest focused on health care. The Progressive Turnout Project, for example, has spent $14,825 on employees to get out the vote for Quist.

On a related note, Quist's closing message goes after the Republican health care plan for gutting protections for those with pre-existing conditions, while delivering a tax cut for the wealthy.

Last weekend, thousands of Sanders and Quist supporters attended rallies throughout Montana.

Greg Gianforte Insists He'll Protect Public Lands The NRA logo looms large as Gianforte shows off his shooting skills and the narrator claims the candidate will "defend the Second Amendment and our access to public lands". But the candidate has said publicly that he would have voted against the legislation because it lacked clear data about its impact.

"The race has certainly tightened in the final weeks, with GOP polling showing a race in the low single digits". Trump won 57 percent of the vote. The DCCC announced an additional $2 million investment in the Georgia district this week. In a television ad hitting Quist for supporting a national gun registry, Gianforte shoots a computer screen displaying a sample registry.

Quist concluded his appearance by playing some music.

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