That’s a quote from a Quist campaign coordinator who wished to remain anonymous unless I cleared what she said with campaign hierarchy, which I don’t feel like doing.
To be honest, if I were a betting man, ten days ago I would have put my money on a Gianforte win: one bad Quist story after another hitting the newspapers, nasty anti-Quist commercials on TV all day long, ugly hit pieces in mailboxes on a regular basis. The early polls, as much as they can be trusted, didn’t paint a pretty picture, either.
But if election results are about anything, they’re about momentum. Quist has it; Gianforte doesn’t.
The negative ads are wearing thin and it’s all old news. On the other hand, Gianforte was just caught supporting the recent Republican health care plan while telling folks back home, according to an aide:
“He would not have voted for the bill because he didn’t know what was in it.”
This sort of duplicitous stance does not play well in Montana. And the New York Times alludes to other problems in the Gianforte campaign.
Asking the lobbyists to give $5,000 each by Friday to “scare off some other Democrat money,” Mr. Gianforte acknowledged that Mr. Quist had far wider support.
“We’ve had over 5,000 individual people support the campaign financially so far,” he said on the recording. “The challenge is my opponent has over 30,000 contributors.”
Polling by both parties has indicated that Mr. Gianforte is leading in the race, but only narrowly, which the Republican acknowledged on the call.
“We’re in a single-digit race,” he said, adding that the left would relish the symbolic importance of snatching a Republican-held House seat.
This race is between a big money media blitz and grassroots activism. In the past, I’ve always given the nod to big money.
Some anecdotes from the campaign trail have me wondering if maybe the grassroots can pull this off.
An acquaintance living off the beaten path between Stevensville and Corvallis had a Quist volunteer knock on her door the other day. This is in the Bitterroot, my friends. She also reports seeing many more Quist yard signs up than Gianforte has there. Same in the metropolis of Hot Springs when I visited last weekend.
At a stop by Quist’s Missoula headquarters yesterday, I was greeted by two woman who had driven from Corpus Christi, Texas, on their own dime. They were headed to Glacier National Park but spent a few days here bundling campaign literature and hitting the doors. Then there was an elderly gent who’d come up from Albuquerque, N.M. He had just walked in after canvassing a Missoula neighborhood.
Phone calls are being made every night, data are being entered, then more phone calls are made. There are women-to-women phone banks set up in every major Montana city later this week.
The organizer I spoke to says she has 300-plus phone and email messages from people around the country wanting to volunteer. Some of them went to a Montana university or have kids who live here or visit in the summer. Another woman came up a few days early for her son’s college graduation and is now volunteering, although she says she’s never been active in politics before. There’s also a postcard campaign — dozens of folks sitting around a table writing cards to friends, family and potential Quist voters.
It’s called the resist movement and it has certainly taken hold in our special election. Some pundits would say it’s a bad thing to have a flood of out-of-staters working on a Montana candidate’s behalf. I don’t. It indicates the depth of concern people all over the country have with the Trump administration. And rightfully so.
Finally, there’s the candidate. The sleazy ads and press attacks haven’t slowed Quist down. From his events page, I see he’s doing a Hi Line tour, then stops in Great Falls, Billings and Bozeman. There are meet-and-greets everywhere, with anyone, every chance he gets.
Gianforte’s schedule seems to be announced after the fact. Yes, he does have Vice President Pence stumping in Billings — where he has to win if he’s going to carry the state. Donald Trump Jr. will be stocking up on prairie dog pelts, again, after doing an I-15 campaign for Gianforte in Great Falls, Helena and Butte. If Republicans are convinced of a Gianforte victory, one has to wonder why they’re pouring these sorts of resources into our state.
There are only 16 days until the election but I’m getting the feeling that Rob Quist could win this thing.