From the outset, everyone who follows politics knew that Denise Juneau was going to have a big hill to climb in her race for Congress. Incumbents rarely lose in the House, and incumbents who receive almost no scrutiny from the press lose even less often. That being said, Superintendent Juneau has made a race of it—and the latest details about campaign finance and outside spending show that Juneau has a fighting chance of winning this race in a week.
One sign that the race is competitive is the fact that the Democratic House Majority PAC is dropping $500,000 in the race for ad support, as the Flathead Beacon reports. Given the hope among Democrats that an anti-Trump wave might sweep Democrats into controlling the House, this expenditure is telling: people watching the race think Juneau can win—and she’s putting a scare into the Congressman from Santa Barbara. CNN characterized the expenditure three days ago as an effort to expand the Democratic map, and noted that Congressman Zinke is sufficiently scared to bring in Paul Ryan to campaign for him.
As Pete noted the other day, the Zinke campaign is telling potential supporters they worry they can lose. In a fundraising e-mail, they write:
It’s absolutely necessary that I get in contact with you. Before I go any further — here’s what’s happening: a newly released poll has me nearly neck-and-neck with my opponent, and from the looks of it, I could fall behind.
If Ryan Zinke is to be believed, he’s in trouble. And why would anyone question his commitment to the truth?
Today as I was writing this post, I saw a release from the Juneau campaign, one that shows that Denise has more cash on hand than Zinke for the stretch run of the campaign, which is astonishing given the massive amount of money Zinke has pretended to raise:
According to the latest FEC filings yesterday, Juneau raised $319,143 to Congressman Zinke’s $258,657. She also has more than $490,000 on hand, while Congressman Zinke has $399,000.
Juneau raised 69 percent of her individual contributions from Montana. Congressman Zinke raised only 5 percent from Montana, continuing his trend of seeking most of his support from outside of Montana.
Five per cent from Montana is an astonishing number. It’s remarkable that the press hasn’t spent more time talking about Congressman Zinke’s total inability to raise money in the state and his reliance on money from outside of it.
Even that $399,000 cash on hand total for Zinke is suspect, as he was paying off massive debts from his first campaign a year into his term in Congress. He almost certainly has outstanding debts to the cadre of professional fundraisers and scammers who are raising money outside the state for his campaign.
The strategists who make decision about the allocation of precious campaign resources don’t make decisions on a whim. They spend money in states they hope to win, and in states they believe they can. The cash raised by the candidates, the expenditures of time and money in ads, and the fear of the Zinke campaign all show a race that’s likely to be close—and Juneau supporters need to get the word out. We can win this thing, and make Montana’s sole representative in Congress one who once again represents us.