Mary Reckin has noticed a change in the Flathead Valley.
It started after last fall’s election, when Republican Donald J. Trump won the presidential race in Montana by 20 percentage points and Democrats went from holding all but one statewide office to a lone one retained, the governor’s seat.
But after the Democrats took such a drubbing, Reckin said people began showing up — so many came to meetings of the Flathead County Democratic Women the room was too crowded to hold them all.
“That really energized people. It’s the start of something really wonderful,” she said. “We’ve more than doubled attendance.”
Then came rallies for Rob Quist, a Democrat who until January was best known as a member of the legendary Mission Mountain Wood Band. Quist, from Creston, is running to fill Montana’s empty seat in Congress against Republican Greg Gianforte, a Bozeman businessman who lost the governor’s race last fall to incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock in a vote close enough nobody knew the winner when they went to bed on election night.[…]
But late last week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told that publication it was committing six figures to the race. Other groups, including one of the country’s largest political action committees, mobilized the same day, connecting Quist with a small-donor network that raised more than $825,000 in the Georgia election. In that state Democrat Jon Ossoff is heading to a June runoff after getting 48.1 percent of the vote against 11 Republican candidates.
Gianforte’s support nationally could be considered more more normal or expected, though neither of those words are quite right for this election. Montana hasn’t had to replace a congressman since 1969. This time around the state needs a new representative after Ryan Zinke was picked by Trump to be Secretary of the Interior.
While a search for Quist’s name on the DCCC website still turns up a goose egg, Gianforte is plastered all over the website for the other party’s equivalent organization, the National Republican Campaign Committee. Big-time Republican super PACs, as well as the NRA, have made major ad buys in the state as well.
On the Wednesday before the DCCC dropped money into the race, Quist dismissed narratives that national groups had overlooked his election.
Right after he became the nominee in January after going four rounds with eight other hopefuls, Democratic heavyweights MoveOn.org, a political action committee that works to advance progressive politics, and Daily Kos, a political blog, sent out emails encouraging their followers to support Quist.
“One-third of our contributions are coming from out-of-state,” he said.