rain.png
Saturday August 15th, 2020 2:58PM

Montana's U.S. House race brings partisan divide to the fore

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — In the race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, Republican Matt Rosendale is hitching his wagon to President Donald Trump even as the president's national approval ratings worsen.

Rosendale talks glowingly about Trump's actions since COVID-19 hit the United States, while many have criticized his response to the coronavirus — including Rosendale's opponent.

Democrat Kathleen Williams slams the federal response to the virus, even in Trump country, saying states like Montana were left without federal support as they sought to develop testing strategies that would permit them to reopen their economies while limiting the spread of the virus.

“I think we could have responded much more effectively if there had been some leadership at the federal level on that,” she told The Associated Press.

Williams said there has been a lack of leadership on this issue from Montana’s U.S. House seat, which is currently occupied by Republican Greg Gianforte.

“We’re just seeing nothing, and it’s frustrating,” she said.

Rosendale celebrated the president’s decision to limit travel to and from China in late January and his efforts to reopen the economy. “He was very decisive in the very beginning of this,” he told AP. “I think he’s been very prudent, and very effective.”

Trump endorsed Rosendale in February and made four trips to Montana to drum up support for him when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in 2018. Rosendale lost that race by 4 points.

Like Rosendale, Williams comes to this race with something to prove. This is her second attempt at retaking a seat held by Republicans since 1997. In 2018, she fell short of defeating Republican Greg Gianforte, another Trump darling, coming within 5 points of victory.

The House seat opened up this year after Gianforte decided to run for governor, with incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock termed out and running for U.S. Senate.

Paul Pope, a political analyst and professor of political science at the Montana State University in Billings, says the pandemic could be the issue that puts the seat within Democrats' reach.

“Candidates who endorse Trump’s approach to politics and governing are struggling in the polls,” Pope said, calling the Montana House race “incredibly tight.”

Williams out-raised Rosendale in the second quarter of 2020, bringing in around $760,000 to Rosendale’s $600,000, another sign that the seat is in play.

Rosendale, who has served as state auditor since January 2017, is no stranger to the campaign trail. He first ran for U.S. House in 2014, losing the primary in a crowded field. Now, he is hedging his campaign on the Republican party line — emphasizing his support for Trump’s border wall with Mexico even in a state on the opposite side of the county.

Williams comes to the race without a strong attachment to name brand Democrats. She is building on her career in environmental conservation and her time serving in the state Legislature, where she developed a reputation for working across the aisle. She hopes to bring that same spirit to the U.S. House, where “hyper partisanship has gotten out of control," she said.

According to Pope, Williams has positioned herself to attract independent voters in the state, thanks to her appeal as a conservationist, a popular perspective in a state that is home to two national parks and a robust fishing and hunting tradition.

As Montana joins other states in facing a sharp spike in coronavirus cases, Rosendale is holding out that Trump will return to the state to campaign on his behalf. But in-person campaign events could become a liability.

“I think the best they can do is smaller, more intimate affairs,” Pope said.

Trump’s rally in Oklahoma in late June was poorly attended, reportedly because of coronavirus-related concerns, and contributed to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, according to health officials. Pope thinks the same thing could happen in Montana.

Williams hoped the current campaign will be like her previous one — built on connections with Montanans across the state. In the months preceding the coronavirus outbreak, she said she put 75,000 miles on her vehicles, crisscrossing the state to meet voters.

In Montana, which is more than 1.5 times the size of Britain, candidates often spend countless hours on the road as they venture to meet voters in person. But for now, Williams says that's off the table.

“We’re discussing how we can ensure that we can get out and talk to Montanans and listen to their hopes struggles and dreams but do it safely,” Williams said.

Williams has not held in-person campaign events since March. Rosendale held two in-person events in early June, before entering a 14-day quarantine after coming in contact with Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, who later tested positive for the virus, at a Republican fundraising event.

In a tight race, the campaigns' response to the coronvirus could become the deciding factor.

“We continue to regroup and figure out — how can we reach out and touch as many voters as possible?” Rosendale said. “Touch being, you know, virtual."

___

This story was first published on July 20, 2020. It was updated on July 24, 2020, to make clear that Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat Kathleen Williams statement on the lack of leadership on a federal testing policy for COVID-19 was criticism directed specifically at current U.S. House Rep. Greg Gianforte.

___

Iris Samuels is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General House Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
FDA calls for removal of fruity, disposable Puff Bar vapes
U.S. health officials are cracking down on a brand of fruity disposable e-cigarettes that is popular with teenagers
1:05PM ( 3 minutes ago )
With tears, Congress honors Lewis, 'conscience of the House'
The House has honored the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis with a moment of silence
1:02PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Son of US District Judge Esther Salas killed, husband shot
Judiciary officials say a gunman shot and killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge as he answered the door of the family home Sunday in New Jersey, and shot and wounded the judge’s husband before fleeing
12:41PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
UK suspends extradition arrangements with Hong Kong
Britain’s government has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, after China imposed a tough new national security law
11:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP leaders at White House as virus crisis deepens
The renewed surge of coronavirus cases has Congress considering what to do next
11:12AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump not ready to commit to election results if he loses
President Donald Trump is going to keep people in suspense about how he'll respond to the election
11:07AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Over 100 apply to replace Rep. Lewis on November ballot
Georgia Democrats will sift through over 100 applications Monday to decide who will replace Rep. John Lewis on the November ballot
3:47AM ( 9 hours ago )
Applications taken for 1 day to replace Rep Lewis on ballot
Georgia Democrats will gather Monday to decide a replacement on November’s ballot for U.S. Rep. John Lewis
7:32PM ( 17 hours ago )
GOP leaders, Trump to discuss virus aid as crisis deepens
Top Republicans in Congress are expected to meet Monday with President Donald Trump on the next COVID-19 aid package
7:21PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Kanye West criticizes Harriet Tubman at his political rally
Rapper Kanye West used part of his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate to rant against historical figure Harriet Tubman
5:41AM ( 7 hours ago )
2020 Watch: Does Trump have a strategy to win in November?
President Donald Trump insists he’s not losing, but by virtually every objective measure Democrat Joe Biden would defeat the Republican president if the election were today
5:29AM ( 7 hours ago )
Rapper Kanye West criticizes Harriet Tubman at rally
Rapper Kanye West used part of his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate to rant against historical figure Harriet Tubman
9:14PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Elections
Trump's trouble in suburbs key to suddenly competitive Ohio
President Donald Trump is facing an unexpectedly competitive landscape in Ohio because he's lost ground in metropolitan and suburban areas
11:45AM ( 2 days ago )
Surging Democrats expand Senate targets to GOP states
President Donald Trump's sagging popularity is creating opportunities for Senate Democratic candidates in Republican-leaning states where they normally wouldn't be competitive
1:14AM ( 2 days ago )
Justice Ginsburg says cancer has returned, but won't retire
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is receiving chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer, but has no plans to retire from the Supreme Court
12:16AM ( 2 days ago )
General Election News
Tanzanian opposition leader urges united front ahead of vote
With Tanzania facing an October election that contentious President John Magufuli hopes to win, one opposition leader tells The Associated Press he’s trying to unite the opposition behind a candidate for the best shot at an upset
3:13AM ( 2 days ago )
Bach warns against Olympic boycotts, seeks re-election
IOC president Thomas Bach has warned against Olympic boycotts while also confirming he will seek re-election next year
11:30AM ( 3 days ago )
Russia is hacking virus vaccine trials, US, UK, Canada say
Western governments are accusing hackers believed to be part of the Russian intelligence services of trying to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine
12:03AM ( 3 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Kansas congressman forced to leave committees after charges
A freshman Kansas congressman facing felony criminal charges over previously listing a UPS Inc. postal box as his residence on a state voter registration form has been forced to temporarily give up his House committee assignments
1:18PM ( 2 days ago )
Trump's former doctor wins House GOP nomination in Texas
President Donald Trump’s former White House physician has won the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Texas
9:29AM ( 5 days ago )
Kansas freshman GOP Rep. Watkins charged with 3 felonies
A freshman Kansas congressman who had listed a UPS Inc. postal box as his residence on a voter registration form has been charged with three felony crimes, including unlawful voting
11:27PM ( 5 days ago )
General House Election News
US Rep. Amash officially won't seek reelection to Congress
Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who backed the impeachment of President Donald Trump, is officially not running for reelection
2:21PM ( 2 days ago )
Trump's grand GOP convention plans shrink as virus surges
President Donald Trump’s plans for a grand convention keep shrinking
3:03PM ( 3 days ago )
GOP restricts convention attendance over coronavirus fears
The Republican National Committee is sharply restricting attendance on three of the four nights of its convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month as coronavirus cases are spiking in the state
9:26AM ( 4 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
FDA calls for removal of fruity, disposable Puff Bar vapes
U.S. health officials are cracking down on a brand of fruity disposable e-cigarettes that is popular with teenagers
1:05PM ( 4 minutes ago )
With tears, Congress honors Lewis, 'conscience of the House'
The House has honored the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis with a moment of silence
1:02PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Son of US District Judge Esther Salas killed, husband shot
Judiciary officials say a gunman shot and killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge as he answered the door of the family home Sunday in New Jersey, and shot and wounded the judge’s husband before fleeing
12:41PM ( 28 minutes ago )
The Latest: White House to resume daily COVID-19 briefings
The White House is reviving its public coronavirus task force briefings, and President Donald Trump will again take on a starring role
12:40PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Trump faces divisions with Senate GOP on virus aid
President Donald Trump met with top Republican congressional leaders Monday at the White House on the next COVID-19 aid package
12:35PM ( 34 minutes ago )