Democratic and Republicans groups are both making big investments in Montana’s closely watched special election for an at-large House seat.
The money comes as Democrats look to flip the seat once held by President Trump’s Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, following two surprisingly close special elections in Kansas and Georgia.
Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a GOP super PAC allied with House leadership, is putting an additional $500,000 into the special election for a mail campaign and 50 canvassers in the field on top of its $1.5 million television investment.
The group on Wednesday also launched a new ad that hits the Democrat nominee, musician Rob Quist, over personal financial troubles, an issue that has plagued the candidate in his run for Congress against Republican businessman Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteKathleen Williams, Matt Rosendale to face off for Montana House seat Gianforte wins Montana gubernatorial primary Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries MORE.
“How can we trust Quist with our tax dollars?” the narrator asks at the end of the 30-second ad that lists several of Quist’s financial difficulties.
“Rob Quist’s track record is one mistruth after another. Rob not only failed to pay his taxes time and again, but also stiffed fellow Montanans,” said the group’s executive director, Corey Bliss.
“Quist’s history of dishonesty and turning his back on hard-working Montanans is what’s damning and a clear sign he can’t be trusted. Montanans will soon reject him and his dishonest ways, and Quist will have no one to blame but himself.”
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But Democrats, seeking to be competitive in traditionally Republican districts in the era of President Trump, are also upping their financial efforts.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, announced a $400,000 effort Wednesday for both television and a mail campaign, which follows last month’s investment of $200,000.
“Rob Quist is a Montana native who understands the struggles of hardworking families in the state, while Gianforte is singularly focused on supporting special interests, wealthy landowners and millionaires like himself,” communications director Meredith Kelly said in a statement.
“This significant investment in television and ground game will bolster Quist’s already strong, Montana-focused campaign.”
DCCC’s money comes after Washington Democrats were criticized for not putting more money into the Kansas special election, which the Democratic nominee lost despite making the race more competitive.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has also put a financial stake in Montana, announcing a six-figure investment last month to aid Quist’s bid.
Democrats want to turn the red-state race into proof of a coming 2018 midterms backlash, hoping that a surprise Democratic win could prompt GOP retirements and divide the Republican caucus.
Montana’s May 25 special election follows a strong performance for Democrats in Georgia last month, where Democrat Jon Ossoff just missed the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a runoff.