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2017 Special Election Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

Where’s Greg Gianforte?

In a little over a month, mail-in ballots for Montana’s special election will be going out. Maybe.

The bill to make this an all mail-in election is still in the Montana House Judiciary Committee and time draws nigh. Still, with the election to be held May 25, one would think the candidates for the open congressional seat would be out shaking hands and kissing babies.

Republican candidate Greg Gianforte is M.I.A.

His Facebook page for the month of March shows him marching in the Billings St. Patrick’s Day parade. That’s it and that was ten days ago. A click on his ‘events’ button says, “Greg Gianforte does not have any upcoming events.” Same with his website: nada.

Perhaps the Montana Republican Party is carrying his water but there are zero events mentioned on its site. The only thing coming up is the Park County Lincoln-Reagan Dinner with the keynote speaker — not next door neighbor Gianforte — but Mary Todd (someone channelling Honest Abe Lincoln’s wife?).

As for the media, there’s been little to no news since the Republican nominating convention held March 6. There’s a chance that Gianforte’s campaign is all meet-and-greets with party insiders and entreaties to big donors, and it’s flying below the radar. It seems like an odd strategy to build enthusiasm and momentum, get volunteers and organize a grassroots campaign.

At this point, grassroots doesn’t look like the game plan — more like massive TV buys, negative in nature, and some radio, print and mailings.

Democratic candidate Rob Quist is at least hitting the road and doing events, according to his website and Facebook page. Tonight he’s in Kalispell at a health care rally. He’s in Great Falls on Wednesday at the C.M. Russell Museum and next week in Butte at the Finlen. Last week he had public lands rallies in Billings, Kalispell and Missoula. There are also numerous phone bank and door knocking opportunities listed.

Quist has been getting media, too, although not all of it good. This too shall pass with the next news cycle although it could resurface in negative TV ads. “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” It’s a quote variously attributed to Mae West, P.T. Barnum, Will Rogers and W.C. Fields. We’ll see if it applies here.

One question will be: do more Montanans identify with the guy who has had some tax and debt problems associated with health issues, or with the multi-millionaire?

Another question: is the Republican Party concerned about a missing Gianforte? Quist is working the campaign trail and Gianforte is not. The larger question might be: will a grassroots, person-to-person campaign beat a big money media blitz?

We’ll know the answers to these questions on May 26.



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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.


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  • Mr. Gianforte does not want to be face to face compared to Mr. Quist.
    The Montana GOP does not want anyone asking for a debate between Greg and Rob.
    Does not want even a panel discussion involving Rob and Greg.
    This campaign is about the Gianforte image and identity politics with people who like the Gianforte image!
    To the giant forces of the Gianforte campaign, imaged values are more important than are real issues.
    Issues are much less important.
    Ignore the Quist campaign talking about issues!
    Develop some killer TV images to air when Ballots are mailed out.
    Many Voters will vote quick and mail in their completed Ballot,
    and then not have watch/think about the last 3-4 weeks of the Special Election,
    concluding May 25, 2017.

    • Exactly. Giantfarter cannot stand up to the close scrutiny of a public campaign, but the low info voters the GOP rely on will believe anything they hear on T.V. and look no further. Rob Quist should be screaming loudly for face to face debates.

  • Where is Greg Gianforte?

    He’s busy winning.

    On the drive home last night I heard on of his commercials. I saw at least two of his commercials on the 10:00 news last night. One promoting himself, the other with Nancy Pelosi behind Rob’s hat.

    I did see Quist last week in Billings though, he gathered an excited crowd of 43 +/- people.

    If this was a football game, I’d say it would be the start of the 4th Quarter, and that Team ‘D’ hasn’t been able to get their offense going. I won’t stick a fork in Quist yet, but I’m not changing my 49-39-5 prediction either.

  • Gianforte is using the media to get his message out as public meetings an town halls are no longer viable due to the extremely small radical left supremacists groups that disrupt these meetings . Between these groups, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer the dems are falling into obscurity. Moderates can see through BS and will vote accordingly. Watch the 2018 election.

  • The Billings Gazette article today on Quist financial problems sure did no favors for his election chances. I’m hard pressed to understand why he would tell the Gazette week ago he had no income in 2011 but actually did 35 performances. It sure looks dishonest. I was a early supporter of Quist. I just don’t understand why he didn’t dump all the information out at beginning of the campaign. Was it his choice not to or the Montana Democratic Party. I thought the news this morning he had raised $750,000 was helpful even being outspent 3-1 by Gianforte. The articles on here regarding where has Gianforte been really won’t matter now. I feel doubt Quist can dig himself out of this hole. Still no ads and now he will be off message having to be on defense. I know many that read this site think other wise. But will take miracle now.

  • There are three candidates on the ballot. I am Mark Wicks and I’m the Libertarian candidate. You should check me out before you vote. I am level headed and honest. I am willing to listen and will represent Montana not a political party ran by elitists.

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