Donald Trump Jon Tester Matt Rosendale Montana Politics Russ Fagg Senate Race 2018 Troy Downing

Alabama’s election implications for Montana

Image: New York Magazine
Written by Pete Talbot
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Would Jesus vote for Roy Moore? I believe it’s in the New Testament, Pedophiles 13:4 —

“And Jesus said, ‘Vote for the child molester who speaks fondly of slavery. He is better than the Democrat.'”

All eyes are on Alabama today as it holds a special election to replace Trump appointee Jeff Sessions, our U.S. Attorney General. Trump, like the Bible, says Republican Roy Moore is a better candidate than Democrat Doug Jones, despite Moore being removed, twice, from the Alabama Supreme Court and also being accused of sexually molesting teenage girls.

Although Trump carried Alabama by 28 points, and has endorsed Moore in the final days of the campaign, the polling for this election is all over the map.

There will be a lot of talk about what a Moore win or loss says about the Republican Party. But the most immediate potential effect of the election would be from a Moore defeat, which would: (i) make Republican efforts to pass legislation in the current Congress more difficult and (ii) make Democratic efforts to take over the Senate in 2018 easier.

What does this mean for Montana’s 2018 U.S. Senate race? It’s #8 on the The Washington Post’s top 10 Senate races to watch. 

8.Montana (D): Montana is the first of several states on this list that Trump won by at least 20 percentage points. And yet, Sen. Jon Tester is the first of several Democrats on this list who has successfully adapted to fit the state’s unique politics. He’s voted for more than half of Trump’s nominees, and on the weekends, he farms on land his grandparents homesteaded a century ago. Republicans are tangled in a four-way primary on who gets to challenge him. Auditor Matt Rosendale was just endorsed by a pro-Trump Stephen K. Bannon group. Unlike the other states on this list, Tester isn’t the only statewide Democrat in office. Gov. Steve Bullock (D) won reelection in November by 4 points.

That Trump won Montana by 20 points hasn’t escaped two of the GOP’s Senate candidates. Both Matt Rosendale and Troy Downing are trying to outdo each other as having Trump’s back. (Both are multimillionaires. Downing has Lolita Zinke — and one would assume Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke — on his side. As mentioned above, Rosendale has Trump-loving Steve Bannon’s endorsement. There will be blood.)

However, Trump’s approval rating in Montana has dipped, according to Morning Consult, between January and September of this year:

MT  January: 56.50% approve, 32.00% disapprove; September: 49.80% approve, 45.20% disapprove

So maybe Montana’s Republican candidates shouldn’t put all their eggs in the Trump basket. Russ Fagg, posing as the moderate in the primary race, might be counting on Trump’s numbers to continue their decline. A Moore loss in Alabama could be just what Fagg needs to bolster his anemic campaign against Trumpsters Downing and Rosendale. Rosendale even went as far as to endorse Moore.

And I imagine Jon Tester is paying attention to this race, too. It’s unlikely he’ll have a primary opponent — filing deadline is March 12 — so he can watch as the Republicans beat each other up. A Jones win could certainly be a harbinger of Montana’s general election outcomes. It could even trickle down to Montana’s U.S. House race.

There’s still a lot of time, though, between now and the June primary — even more time between now and Tuesday, November 6, 2018. The Montana Post will update campaign efforts as events warrant.

 

 

 

 

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