Skip to comments.Montana's special election: 5 takeaways - Donald Trump was an asset, not a drag.
Posted on 05/26/2017 9:22:02 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
BOZEMAN, Mont. The ending was shocking, but the result was no surprise.
Despite a bizarre election eve altercation with a reporter that led to a citation for misdemeanor assault, Republican Greg Gianforte kept a red-state House seat in Republican hands in Thursdays Montana special election.
Yet his closer-than-expected victory against Democrat Rob Quist for the at-large congressional seat proved revealing, exposing GOP weaknesses that could threaten the partys House majority in 2018 but reminding Democrats of the uphill climb ahead against President Donald Trump.
Here are POLITICOs five takeaways after the messy two-month brawl and wild final 24 hours:
Trump was an asset, not a drag
Trump won Montana by 21 points in November, and Gianforte then running for governor lost by 4. But this time around, Gianforte wrapped himself as close to the president as possible, despite Democrats insistence that Trumps low approval ratings and constant White House turmoil will be a drag on GOP candidates nationwide.
Campaigning with Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr., relying on last-second robocalls from the president and Pence, using Trumps campaign slogans all of it worked to Gianfortes advantage.
Everything I see is that Greg Gianforte is trying to make him completely front and center. He might have muttered his name once or twice when he was running against me and now he wants to drain the swamp and says, I want to be with Trump every step of the way,' said the states Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday nearly seven months after he himself defeated Gianforte.
Quist, meanwhile, barely talked about Trump at all on the trail.
For Gianforte, the biggest applause lines of his Thursday night speech came when he mentioned Trump and used his "drain the swamp" theme. Local Republicans dismissed the idea that the president could drag Gianforte to defeat as preposterous.
Speaking at Gianfortes election night party in Bozeman before the race was called, former Rep. Denny Rehberg said the national coverage of the race had set up a lose-lose scenario for Trump.
If Gianforte wins with anything less than 20 percent, its [seen as] a loss for Trump, its a trend, and, Oh my God, you better be paying attention! If Quist wins, its going to be, We told you so, Trumps an idiot."
All eyes shift to Georgia
After an intense focus on Montana in the run-up to Thursdays vote, much of the attention is now likely to shift back to Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to pick off the seat formerly held by Tom Price, now secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. That special election will be held June 20, when Ossoff faces off with Republican Karen Handel.
Its already the most expensive House race in history and now, national groups on both sides of the aisle will face even more pressure to pump resources into the contest.
Democrats need a win to prove momentum is on their side and to ensure that the partys energized base doesnt become demoralized. Republicans need a win to calm the nerves of incumbents worried about their chances in the midterm elections and to make the case that Trump isnt the anchor many political pros believe him to be.
So when do Democrats actually win something?
Powered by seething anti-Trump sentiment, the Democratic Party keeps turning in strong performances in special elections in Republican-friendly districts. But they still havent won any of those races.
Quist came closer than expected in the race for the seat now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke won by 15 points back in November. But the results fit the pattern set in a Kansas special election earlier this year where the Democrat came just short in now-CIA Director Mike Pompeos old seat and in suburban Atlanta where Ossoff was aiming for a win that would enable him to bypass a June runoff where his chances of winning werent as strong.
Ossoff could still win the runoff next month, providing an adrenaline shot to Democrats. But if he doesnt, some party operatives are concerned the money flow unprecedented amounts of campaign cash were pumped into the Georgia and Montana races will slow to a trickle.
The Republican freak-out has been delayed
If Gianforte had lost, national Republican leaders were ready to throw him under the bus to make the case that it was the candidates own flaws, not adverse current political conditions, that were at fault.
When we run shitty candidates, its going to be hard to win, said one Republican operative closely involved in the race on Wednesday. In the three races so far this year, were running shitty candidates, its just the fact.
But Gianfortes victory now allows them to push back forcefully on the idea that Democrats over-performance in special elections so far portends a wave election in 2018 that will sweep out the GOP House majority.
It has zero predictive value of 2018, said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan thats invested heavily in the special elections so far, on Wednesday. People just write about the energy that Democrats have, but look at the candidates theyve put forth in all these races. Quist is a glorified homeless person. He raised $7 million and hes still going to lose. Ossoff is a glorified child who was born to rich parents and hell lose.
So, for the time being at least, Republicans have delayed the reckoning that many privately assume is coming. At least until Georgia votes.
Press-bashing: the new normal
Much of the vote had already been cast before Election Day in Montana, so its impossible to gauge the impact of Gianfortes run-in with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.
But if nothing else, the Republican's win demonstrates that a candidates hostility toward the media is no deal-breaker for voters and it might even be helpful.
Taking a page from Trumps playbook, Gianforte regularly made fun of East Coast reporters on the campaign trail to gin up his supporters. Indeed, his altercation Wednesday night was widely laughed off by attendees at his Election Day party, as they stared some angrily at the media gathered there. In his speech at the end of the night, when Gianforte apologized to the reporter he had assaulted, an attendee yelled that he was forgiven, as others shook their head, expressing the opinion that he shouldn't have to apologize.
Earlier in the evening, the media hatred was even a punch line of supporters jokes.
Eyeing a reporters press badge skeptically just after polls closed, one attendee explained, Were looking for the right press to flip off. Then she laughed and walked away.
My friends: We are in the drivers seat. 2018 Senate. Rats are defending 23 seats, including 10 in states Trump won. We’ll be lucky to pick up 3 when 10 is more than possible. Top tier candidates won’t run. That’s why.
We are back to the same basic failure of the 2017 election, and the Democratic national strategy...which just walks away from rural or heartland perceptions, and sees the Democratic Party as urban group only. It would seem like nothing has been learned from the Hillary loss, and full-speed ahead.
This could be the coup de gras for us. Set up Trump throughout his 2nd term. Won’t happen. Our leaders are letting Trump do all the work. No one has his back. Just like Gary Coopers friends in High Noon.
Somebody is really missing the point. It's been a hate campaign in the media since Trump was nominated and it's gone absolutely insane since he took office. That's the "new normal". And people really don't like it. And the press really won't recognize it.
Eighteen months before the next general election. Literally an infinity in politics. The Republicans seem incapable or unwilling to pass most of the Trump agenda that requires legislation. Yet if Trump through administrative action is successful in reviving the economy so the people sense real prosperity and economic growth, secures the borders, deports criminal aliens and thwarts terrorism, Republicans will be reelected despite themselves.
Low population states like Montana and ND are cheap for advertising. Term limited Governors can run in Mich., Wisc., Fla., even Maine and Ohio. There’s even room for the Terminator, Chris Christie and Rudy. Don’t forget Tom Ridge. We need a full court press. Trump can deal with the RINOS. Won’t happen but they’ll sure ask for our money.
Michigan = Snyder ? RINO squish. Hell, no.
Ohio = Pig Vomit the Soros Puppet ? He’s a Democrat agent.
California = Ah-nold the Austrian Socialist ? Wasn’t 7+ years of his Republican destroying leadership of California bad enough ? He turned the state hard to Stalinist.
NJ = Stay Puft ? He’s toxic in the state. The Dems are expected to take his office as a result in November.
NY = Rudy ? He’s not going to run for anything anymore.
PA = Tom Ridge ? Pro-abort Bushbot and anti-Trumper RINO ? Hell, no !
I’m just saying the Rats would have to put more effort into keeping those seats they are expected to win. If Flake and Heller lose it’s then no big deal.
the bashing the press does really feeds the liberal base of the democrat party but it turns off the middle of the road voter. I think if the press keeps it up we will see the destruction of the democrat party as a national party. but be ware in a lot of ways the republican party is set two fracture into two parties. the truth is that there are two republican parties and they are going to end up fighting each other eventually.
Any reason why term limited Susan Martinez of NM should not run? Trump wasn’t that kind to her but perhaps Mitch will be.
Run people that are actually on our side, not those helping the anti-America left. Those cretins make Flake and Heller look like Jesse Helms.
Martinez has relatively low approval ratings (low 40s) and hasn’t expressed any interest in running for the Senate.
Ohio has a candidate, Josh Mandel is seeking a rematch.
A poll a few weeks ago had him LEADING Brown.
The Democrats and Media (but I repeat myself) are still in their Bubble, and they don't even realize what a Fake News laughingstock they've become.
They still haven't accepted the result of November's election, and the People are getting sick and tired of seeing the Swamp trying to undermine this President.
I hope President Trump takes the fight right to the heart of the Swamp. I think the President needs to enlist the People in this struggle against the entrenched corruption and criminality in the Federal government.The more Revolutionary his rhetoric is, the better.
The People who don't happen to live in California and New York are ready to make American great again. We just didn't realize how necessary it might be to drain the Swamp first—and fight a lengthy and brutal political civil war in order to do so.
President Trump needs to call out the Media—for being the Enemy of the People—and he also needs to get the People fully behind him in his crusade to Drain the Swamp. If he can do that, he'll be a wildly successful President.
We just all have to realize that it will be a very slow and painful process, what with all of the slimy Democrat thugs, propagandists, liars, and brazen criminals who are in the way.
But they will ultimately be ground into dust...
Knowing Pig Vomit, he may try to enter the primary to sabotage Mandel in order to help Brown.
My thoughts too. The Democrats will implode. It will become the party of minorities...and funding will disappear.
The Republicans will split, with the GOPe becoming the new Left, and the remaining Republicans being the conservative party.
I doubt it. He’s obsessed with the Presidency, or selling books.
But it sounds like they hate each other and Kasich probably won’t endorse him, which I would expel Kasich from the state party ever.
I don’t put it past him. I remember when the Ohio RINOs sabotaged Ken Blackwell. Pig Vomit can do two things: he can sabotage Mandel’s candidacy and then run as an “Independent” in 2020 to help the Democrats depose President Trump by taking RINO votes.
Which was wholly stages by that alleged report and exaggerated, in order to influence the election. This person didn't report the news; he invented it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.