How aggressively will national Democrats contest the Montana special election?

Gianforte and Quist

Making decisions about where and how central party resources are spent in support of local races is one of those aspects of politics that rarely gets the attention it deserves.

The DCCC or the NRCC look at seats they likely have no hope of winning and usually leave such campaigns more or less to their one devices to succeed or fail, most likely fail.

One of the most urgent tasks of a local campaign is to convince central party decision-makers that they ought to spend some money, or send in some extra bodies or just generally support what is going on locally.

Now that Democratic candidates are showing strength in places like Kansas and Georgia in special elections in typically red districts, it’s only natural for candidates in upcoming elections to try to convince the DCCC that they ought to forget the usual red state/ blue state calculus and help out regardless.

In the upcoming special election in Montana, Democratic candidate Rob Quist is saying what you would expect about the national Democratic Party.

“They’ve been on the sidelines a little too long, and it’s time for them to get in the game,” said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana’s at-large House seat.

But, he predicted, “they’re coming in.”

As the New York Times recently reported, they may have little choice given the energy and relative success of Democratic candidates in recent elections. We’ll see.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stepped down to join Trump’s  cabinet. His now vacated Montana House seat is up next amidst a significant “groundswell of new activism on the left … demanding attention.” Democrat Rob Quist is running against Republican Greg Gianforte. Election Day is May 25th.

Only a few polls have been done, and it looks close enough to be interesting.

A special problem in national politics is how to spend campaign resources wisely while not ignoring the potential to build regional strength where it had not previously existed. In other words, arguing that a region cannot be won based on past outcomes ensures that resources to succssfully compete will never be committed – a self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one.

Of course squandering money on a pure lost cause isn’t useful either.

I’m sure there are people at this very moment sitting around a table at some Democratic Party central office trying to decide if this Montana race really is within reach. And, if not, how little they can spend there so as not to completely demoralize the local campaign and local campaigns to come that are in the same marginal category.

It’s a bad day for a candidate when he or she realizes that people on their own side in the central office who have access to the big picture (and maybe some in-house polling) don’t think they have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

Put me in coach. No.

Politics sucks in ways that most people never realize.

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