Good morning friends! A mini Quist roundup to start things off and then more will be in the comments. (Including DNC lawsuit discussion, the latest Sanders news, environmental updates, etc). See you there!
Rob Quist, the once-longshot, banjo-strumming populist running for Montana’s empty U.S. House seat, is giving Republicans a scare.
On Thursday, Quist’s campaign announced a startling $5 million fundraising haul that came from more than 200,000 individual donations over the course of 85 days. What’s more, the political novice has refused contributions from lobbyists and corporate political action committees, earning him the respect of progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will hold a campaign rally in Missoula on Saturday, as well as events in Butte, Billings, and Bozeman ahead of the May 25th special election.
Many believe the healthcare issue could prove to be the GOP’s downfall in many state-level races, including Montana.
“Rob’s story is resonating with voters who want someone who will stand up for them,” Quist campaign spokeswoman Tina Olechowski told The Hill. “After medical complications following surgery, Rob got into debt. He paid off his debt, but Rob believes no one should ever face bankruptcy just because they get sick. Greg Gianforte supports the health care bill that would raise costs for consumers, eliminate health coverage for seventy thousand Montanans, and end protections for pre-existing conditions—all to pay for huge tax breaks for millionaires like Gianforte himself.”
Similarly, Sanders said last month, “Rob Quist is the only person in this race who understands that we need a government in Washington that works for all Montanans and all Americans and not just the special interests and the billionaire class.”
In the weeks leading up to Montana’s special congressional election, Rob Quist and his surrogates fanned out across college campuses throughout the state, hoping to tap into a trove of progressive votes in a place that’s known to elect Democrats while maintaining conservative values as sturdy as the nearby Rocky Mountains.
With just a week left to campaign before the May 25 election, Quist is counting on college-age voters to provide the sliver of ballots he needs to prevail in a nationally watched election for Montana’s open congressional seat, vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned to become U.S. interior secretary.
Quist is running as a populist and political outsider who supports strengthening President Barack Obama’s health care law, not repealing it. He backs abortion rights, same-sex marriage, pay equity for women and lower interest rates for college loans — themes that resonate with younger voters.
“Democrats know they have to swing a lot of those middle or independent voters, so young voters are incredibly important. It should be a pretty coveted group of people because they aren’t always decided,” said Rachel Huff-Doria, executive director of Forward Montana, which helps get out the vote on college campuses across the state.
As he did in his bid for governor, Gianforte has largely ignored college campuses. His campaign has focused on rallying older, established voters to cast ballots.