Last Wednesday, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic—while he was largely silent about the crisis—Greg Gianforte started running a bizarre series of twenty identical Facebook ads, all claiming that “liberal attack groups” were targeting the Montana governor’s race. As poorly timed as those ads were, stranger still is the fact that Gianforte was only incidentally targeting Montanans with the ad, in some cases entirely focusing on other states.
Consider this version of the ad, which ran entirely in Washington, Texas, and Ohio. Or this one that only ran in Ohio. Or this one that ran all over the country, getting more play in California and Florida than it did in Montana.
The patter of these ads follows the earlier, very subtle campaign he ran at the beginning of March when Gianforte argued that electing him was somehow essential to preventing the Soviet Union from establishing control over the United States. Or something.
As with the “liberal attack groups” ads, Gianforte targeted California, Ohio, New York, Texas, and Florida more than Montana.
While I certainly understand that Gianforte is going to want to raise enough money to pay back the massive loans he’s going to give his campaign, it’s hardly a good look to convince Montanans that Gianforte is running to lead Montana, when once again, his real priority is raising money from out-of-state to help him impose his out-of-state agenda.
It seems that Gianforte failed to learn a lesson from the Rosendale campaign: Montanans want to elect candidates who care about the issues affecting our state, not candidates who pander to the audience that watches Fox News for its national messaging.
It might raise a few bucks for Gianforte, but it won’t make Montana voters—of either party—believe he really has the best interests of the state in mind.
Montanans want leaders who will bring common-sense solutions to our state and won’t be any more persuaded by this messaging than they were the first time Gianforte ran or when Rosendale tried it in 2018. And they probably won’t be terribly impressed to learn that Gianforte seems to be outsourcing even work on his campaign, if the Facebook ads are to be believed. With all his millions, does Gianforte really need people from outside the state and country to manage his Facebook ad campaign?
It would appear so.
Some people never change.