Jon Tester Montana Politics

Rehberg Should Focus on the Common Sense of the Tester Proposal, Not Dollars and Cents

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I’ve been thinking more about Erik Iverson’s response to Senator Tester’s proposal for a ceasefire to limit the amount of money spent by unaccountable third parties in the Montana Senate race.

Iverson, who has been running Rehberg’s campaigns and/or Congressional office for years, told The Hill:

“This is certainly an interesting proposal by Senator Tester,” Rehberg Campaign Manager Erik Iverson responded. “We are going to give it a close look and we will respond in due course.”

While I’d like to believe that Iverson’s quote means that the campaign has had a lengthy discussion about the merits of third party ads in  a representative democracy, another scenario seems far more likely: that Iverson has been calling up a lot of “uncoordinated” political groups like the one run by Karl Rove to find out just how much money they can expect to be spent attacking and distorting Senator Tester’s record.

Instead of looking for a way to improve the quality of our elections, I fear they’re looking for loopholes and evaluating the bottom line.

This shouldn’t be calculation based on dollars and cents; it should be an ethical calculation about the kind of political future Rehberg wants for Montana.

And the truth is that Rehberg shouldn’t need time to “respond in due course.”  As Tester pointed out in his letter, Representative Rehberg told the Flathead Beacon he was uncomfortable with third party ads and wanted full disclosure—and as a Montanan, he should know just how pernicious the influence of outside money has been on our political system.

Massachusetts also proves that even the most intensely partisan races can do better than to allow deceptive, unaccountable attack ads to decide elections.

Rehberg still has a few hours to do the right thing—not just for himself and Senator Tester, but for the state. There’s no reason that Montana, which is already leading the fight against undocumented expenditures in state races, can’t set a model for the rest of the nation in federal races.

Montanans expect—and deserve—a tough race between two candidates who clearly view the world quite differently from one another. Tester’s proposal offers the candidates the chance to win or lose this election on the merits of their ideas and their critiques of each other in a direct, tough, honest fight.

Isn’t that really the Montana way?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • If, as you suggest, " … Iverson has been calling up a lot of “uncoordinated” political groups like the one run by Karl Rove to find out just how much money they can expect to be spent attacking and distorting Senator Tester’s record … " Well, I would call that coordination: finding out how much 'independent' money is going to be spent against Tester. And coordination is one of the very few restrictions placed on campaign spending. Not that it doesn't happen all the time — who's to know — just pointing out what a screwy system it is.

  • You're right, there must be fairness in this race. The Rove/Koch machine is in full force distorting every thing that Jon has done in his first term.

    Outside money be damned, honesty in MT is the MT way.

    • A political truism: Statewide races requiring high TV exposure cannot be financed in Montana without outside money.

      But on the bright side, Montana is seen as a "cheap buy" in Senate and House races due to low population. It's very easy to invest money and hype a candidate in 30 second ads that costs thousands more in higher density areas.

      95% of the time, the one with the most money wins. That's how Montana values work.

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