With the Trump White House reeling, national Democrats are looking to capitalize — and making a late investment in next week’s special election for a Montana congressional seat.
House Majority PAC, the principal Democratic outside group focused on House races, is purchasing $25,000 of TV airtime in the state. The buy is a small one; the candidates and parties have so far spent more than $8 million on the Montana race. But it underscores how Democrats are making a late play in the contest.
National Democrats, wary of wasting money on a conservative seat seen as a reach, have largely stayed out of the race, which pits Republican technology executive Greg Gianforte against Democratic musician Rob Quist. Until now, House Majority PAC hadn’t spent anything, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent only around $280,000 on commercials. Republican outside groups, meanwhile, have combined to air more than $4 million in ads.
The commercials will begin running on Saturday on satellite stations and will air through Thursday, when the election is held. Strategists with House Majority PAC say it is possible that they will increase their investment over the course of the coming week.
Republicans remain confident that Gianforte will pull out a win. But with Trump’s turmoil dominating the headlines, GOP officials are on alert. Two party strategists who had reviewed recent polling said they believed Gianforte’s lead was around 5 percentage points. “Up but not out of the woods,” one Republican strategist said.
To buttress Gianforte, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that it would air $200,000 worth of commercials during the final week of the contest.
Without air cover from national Democrats, Quist has been forced to rely on his own fundraising — which has been prolific. Quist’s campaign announced on Thursday that it had raised over $5 million to date.
Some liberals have complained about the national party’s reluctance to engage in the contest, arguing that they were missing out on the opportunity to steal a Republican-held seat. A win would further energize Democrats, who are looking to exploit Trump’s national unpopularity and retake the speaker’s gavel.