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Montana Politics & Legislature

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Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns for Rob Quist in Missoula, May 20, 2017.
Josh Burnham

Bernie Sanders’ first campaign stop in Montana for Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist drew thousands, enough to mostly fill the Adams Center arena on the University of Montana Campus in Missoula.

Eric Whitney: Howdy and Welcome to "Capitol Talk," our weekly political analysis show. I'm Eric Whitney filling in for Sally Mauk. And I'm here with the University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin. Chuck Johnson is out this week.

Rob, it's now less than a week until voting ends in Montana's special election for its seat in the U.S. House on Thursday. I suppose it's not surprising that the campaigns are slinging a lot of mud at one another lately.

High school seniors Jessica Not Afraid, left, Georgeline Morsette and Shaylee St. Marks wear  their beaded graduation caps to support Senate Bill 319 at the Montana Legislature Tuesday,  March 14.
Freddy Monares

Gov. Steve Bullock will hold a signing ceremony tomorrow for a bill that will allow Native Americans to wear traditional regalia during public events, including high school graduations.

“This bill means a lot to me. It’s important that our youth are able to display their culture and their identity during monumental events, such as graduation,” says Marci McLean, the director of Western Native Voice, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The Cut Bank voting center.
Corin Cates-Carney

Colleen O’Brien didn’t know her usual polling place wouldn’t be open for Montana's May 25’s special election to fill Montana’s U.S. House seat until last week.

"It's making it incredibly inconvenient at best, and it is disenfranchising an underserved, underrepresented population at worst," O'Brien says.

Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R) are running for Congress in a special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat.
MTPR News

Candidates and outside groups are dumping more than $12 million into Montana’s short special election race for the U.S. House, surpassing the spending in last year’s race by $3 million. That’s according to the latest federal campaign reports filed this week.

Mark Wicks was the Libertarian candidate for Montana's U.S. House seat in the 2017 special election.
Courtesy Mark Wicks

While about $12 million is financing the U.S. House race between Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist, the Libertarian candidate says contributions to his campaign are just starting to roll in. The main party candidates have each brought in over $3 million to fund their campaigns.

Outside groups have dumped millions more, picking sides between the Republican and Democrat, according to federal election reports. Those reports also show that Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks has raised $2,030, coming entirely from individual donations.

Many Democrats are hoping the GOP health care bill that narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives is going to push political momentum their way, and result in big gains in the 2018 midterm elections. A special election next week in Montana may be an early test for this theory.

Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election May 25, 2017.
Rowebotz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte picked up the endorsements of three of Montana’s largest newspapers over the weekend. 

The Missoulian, the Helena Independent Record, and the Billings Gazette all endorsed Gianforte over Democrat Rob Quist in the race to fill the state’s open seat in congress.

Libertarian candidate for U.S. House Mark Wicks (L) was in Kalispell last weekend inviting his supporters to show off their "ugly trucks."
NIcky Ouellet

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist rallied supporters in Kalispell this weekend with the help of Senator Jon Tester. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks was in Kalispell too, inviting his backers to show off their ugly trucks. Nicky Ouellet reports.

Matthew Monforton
Montana Legislature

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned away challenges to open primaries in Hawaii and Montana.

Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who served as a Republican Legislator in 2015, concedes this is the end of the line for Montanans who support closed primaries:

U.S. House Candidates Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R).
Corin Cates-Carney/Josh Burnham

About $12 million is fueling the special election between Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte, according to latest campaign finance disclosures.

The money pouring into Montana’s sprint race to fill the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House now exceeds the total from the previous House race held in 2016. In that race just over $9 million was spent, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission.

Sally Mauk: Welcome to "Capitol Talk," our weekly political analysis program. I'm Sally Mauk And I'm joined by veteran capitol reporter Chuck Johnson and University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin.

SM: And Rob two new polls show the House race between Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist is narrowing from double digits to within six to eight points with Gianforte still leading but is getting closer what's going on do you think?

Donald Trump Jr. returned to Montana on May 11 to rally supporters for U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte in Butte, Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Donald Trump Jr., the head of the NRA, and Republican candidate Greg Gianforte rallied supporters in Butte, Thursday morning, two weeks before voting ends in the special election to decide Montana’s next lone representative in the U.S. House.

When the race started, Democrats saw the May 25 special election as an opportunity for a referendum against President Donald Trump. But Trump Jr. promised the crowd of about 170 supporters gathered outside a mining equipment and supply store just south of Butte’s uptown, that this would be a referendum of a different kind.

Bullock Vetoes 10 More Bills, Including Water-Well Measure

May 11, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed 10 more bills Thursday, including one that would have allowed residential subdivision developers to resume drilling multiple small water wells from the same water source without a permit.

Over 300 supporters line up in Hamilton before a Greg Gianforte, Donald Trump Jr. campaign rally April 21, 2017.
Rachel Cramer

Donald Trump Jr. will be making his second visit to Montana today, hitting the campaign trail with Greg Gianforte for a series of rallies across Montana. Gianforte is the Republican candidate vying for Montana’s U.S. House seat in the May 25 special election.

Greg Gianforte at his home in Bozeman in 2016
Eric Whitney

Yesterday I spoke with the Republican candidate for Montana's US House seat, Greg Gianforte.

ERIC WHITNEY: When we last talked to you about the House healthcare bill, last Thursday, that was the day the House passed the bill, at the time you told us you need a little more time to study it before you could say whether you would have voted for it. So, would you have voted for the House bill?

The Cut Bank voting center.
Corin Cates-Carney

Before Rob Quist became a politician, or toured the country in a bluegrass band, he lived in Cut Bank, a rural Hi-line town near where the Rocky Mountains meet the eastern plains.

The young Quist lived on a ranch just north of the town with his family. Back then, Cut Bank was one of Montana’s big-time oil producers, Quist was his high school’s student body president, and he helped the Cut Bank Wolves win a state basketball championship, leading the team in scoring in the title game.

(PD)

Healthcare has again moved toward the top of the agenda in Montana’s special election race for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House. Whichever candidate wins the race, there’s no way they’ll be able to represent everyone in Montana on healthcare.

Montana Governor Vetoes Bills On Abortion, Concealed Weapons

May 9, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a proposal that would bar doctors from performing late-term abortions and another that sought to allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol and other state property.

The vetoes were among the seven his office announced Tuesday as he continued to sift through a pile of bills sent to him by now-adjourned lawmakers.

Republican House Candidate Greg Gianforte’s campaign is downplaying his comments about the House healthcare bill that were secretly recorded and leaked to the media.

The New York Times says the comments were taped Thursday, “during a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington.”

With three weeks left until Montana's special U.S. House election, the "Capitol Talk" crew analyzes the attacks being traded by the candidates. And the 2018 campaign has started as Sen. Tester begins running TV ads. Listen now on "Capitol Talk."

Rob Quist speaks at the Democratic Party's nominating convention in Helena.
Corin Cates Carney

Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat Rob Quist says the healthcare bill the House passed yesterday, "gives a massive tax cut to millionaires while jacking up premiums for Montanans.” He says he would have voted against the bill.

Quist favors keeping the current Affordable Care Act in place, but says it needs some fixes. We’ll hear his comments on that in a moment.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock used his veto pen Thursday to kill what he calls "a regular political game" played by the Legislature, to restrict the governor’s use of the state airplane.

The bill sponsored by Missoula Republican Brad Tschida would have blocked the governor from using the state plane for any activity related to state or federal political campaigns, unless the governor reimburses the state for the costs.

A Christian flag at the National Day of Prayer event in Great Falls Thursday
Corin Cates-Carney

Twenty-one days before Montana selects its next U.S. Congressman, the Republican candidate stood among a crowd of more than 100 Christians in a small park in Great Falls, joining a national plea to God.

This gathering outside the civic center downtown is a local observance of the National Day of Prayer. It’s been an annual event since the 1950s, when Congress made a law that the president would set aside a day each year for prayer.

Montana didn’t have a vote on the healthcare bill that passed the U.S. House today. The state’s seat has been vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned it in March to become interior secretary.

Today the Greg Gianforte, Republican candidate to replace Zinke, talked to Montana Public Radio about the bill.

Governor Bullock Faces 260 Bills To Sign Or Veto

May 3, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock faces 260 legislative bills that he must soon decide to veto or sign. That's because state legislative leaders held off delivering them until the last minute as political payback for Bullock's decision to use his bill amendment powers to change voting legislation sent to him earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

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