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Mike Pence records robocall for Montana special House election

25 May, 2017, 01:49 | Author: Eddie Kim

Montanans will go to the polls in a special election on Thursday to fill the congressional seat vacated when Rep. Ryan Zinke became U.S. Interior Secretary. His Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, has embraced the wildly unpopular Republican plan, saying he was "thankful" it had passed the House.

Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday in Washington, everyone in politics will feign being an expert on Montana or, as they will call it with an insider's flourish, Big Sky Country.

The anti-Trump resistance is fueling the campaign of a flawed Democratic challenger, bluegrass musician Rob Quist, helping him raise a whopping $5 million for the race even though deep-pocketed national Democrats have mostly kept their distance.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent about half a million dollars in Montana, funneling early money through the state party so that Quist could go up on TV, and later bolstering that with additional TV and mail efforts.

Quist, by contrast, is running as a full-throated "prairie populist", banking on the assumption that the economic progressivism which helped Sen. 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.

Gianforte is ending this 85-day special election campaign with a tour of seven of the state's larger cities, ending in his hometown of Bozeman.

"Montanans can't afford to send Greg Gianforte to the U.S. House", Quist said in a statement.

Win or lose, what's already played out in Montana risks exacerbating Democrats' rifts about how to approach elections in the Trump era.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, says he feels like establishment Democrats still aren't able to recognize grass-roots momentum when they see it.

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"Republicans should be anxious that they've had to dump so many dollars in to try to defend a district that they shouldn't have had to spend a penny in", Lujan said. Both have rallied voters with Gianforte, and Pence recorded a get-out-the-vote robocall.

Most critically, the state is among the most federally dependent in the nation: nearly 40 percent of its money comes from Washington.

Democratic strategists say the gains they've made in deep-red seats are a effect mostly of the Trump's unpopularity and the GOP's health care bill, the American Health Care Act.

This is the third congressional election this year for open House seats, and Democrats have made surprising headway in districts that have been traditionally Republican-leaning.

Somewhat paradoxically, the different approaches from each party on Thursday's special election underscore the same concern for both of them: whether what happens in Montana can build or break momentum for the races that really count, the 2018 midterm elections.

Quist and Sanders touched on a number of subjects ranging from land access to healthcare with Senator Sanders pleading for support to challenge Washington's agenda.

On April 29th, the three candidates squared off in a televised debate.

But the environment has changed since Trump's presidential win last fall.

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