A full slate of Democratic candidates celebrated Halloween in Havre at a rally with two common recent themes — candidates said the party faithful need to get out the vote, and some took the opportunity to make some digs at their opponents at the same time.
U. S. Sen Jon Tester, who is facing Republican U. S. Rep. Denny Rehberg in Tester’s bid for a second term in the U. S. Senate, said one goal of the blitz of campaign advertising is not to persuade voters whom they should elect.
“They’re trying to disenfranchise voters, ” Tester said to a crowd filling the lounge at the Hi-Line Lanes bowling alley. “They’re trying to make it so you say, ‘I’m sick of all this garbage I’m seeing, and I’m not even going to vote, ’ and the fact is, if they succeed on that they have won. ”
“And we cannot let them succeed on that, ” Tester added.
Tester, on a tour of Indian reservations with statewide candidates in the week before the general election, was joined by gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Steve Bullock, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, insurance and investment commissioner Monica Lindeen, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and attorney general candidate Pam Bucy.
Local candidates Greg Jergeson, running for Montana Senate District 17 in northern Blaine and Hill counties, Karen Sloan, running for Montana House District 34 in Blaine and Hill counties, and Brenda Skornogoski, running for Montana House District 33 in Hill County, also spoke at the event.
One main theme of the rally was the incredible amount of campaign advertising coming into Montana, with much of it coming from independent third-party groups with the U. S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision listed as a main cause of the increase.
Bullock also called on the party faithful to fight against the massive advertising spending, citing 25,000 ads that now have run in the Rehberg-Tester race. He applauded the number of people who turned out for the rally.
“What’s great about having a crowd this big is, I know somebody will finally give me one of those $500,000 checks, ” he said. “Oh. that’s right. we don’t need it because we have each and every one of you. …
“What we do collectively in the next six days is going to decide this election, ” Bullock added. “I would like to say it’s in the bag, but it’s going to be close. ”
He said people getting out is what didn’t happen in a Republican landslide in the Montana Legislature two years ago.
“People talking to people makes a difference, ” Bullock said. “This still is a state where us talking to our friends, our neighbors, others, getting people out to vote, that’s how we decide elections. It’s not unlimited corporate spending, it’s us. …
“In 2010 Montana didn’t substantially change, ” he added. “We didn’t change our values. What happened is, people didn’t vote. ”
Juneau again stressed the importance of voter turnout.
“That’s the whole game right now, ” she said.
She cited her record and improvements in the state public education system as a reason to vote for her, but she also urged the Havre and Blaine county voters to support the Democratic legislative candidates.
“I mean, the people you sent last time, come on, ” Juneau said, in apparent reference to Republicans Kris Hansen, Rowlie Hutton and Wendy Warburton.
Gillan said the difference between her and her opponent, and the differences on the other races on the ticket, are clear. She said the Democratic candidates are the ones who will work to get things done for their constituents.
“It’s all about Montana and not about out-of-state interests funding all those crazy ads, ” she said.
Bucy talked about the money coming in for her opponent, attacking her. She said her father was a 26-year union miner — a job which gave her family of seven health care for the first time, she added.
“There isn’t anyone running in this race that doesn’t more clearly and more personally understandy the value of a natural resource job than myself, ” Bucy said. “Thats why I can tell you how frustrating it is to hear that I’m backed by extreme environmentalists — I don’t know who they are and they haven’t written me any big checks. ”
She said her opponent, Republican Tim Fox, has not appeared at any forums or debates, but she talked about his advertising.
“My opponent is talking about dismantling Obamacare, and I really wanted him to show up at a debate because I wanted to ask him how he would do that at the attorney general’s office, ” Bucy said. “And he talked a lot about how he would create jobs at the attorney general’s office, and I want to ask him about that as well. ”
Lindeen talked about her attempts to have the Legislature put in place regulations on how Montana would implement health care reform, and to allow the state auditor to regulate health insurance premium increases — Montana is one of three states where regulating health insurance premiums is not allowed.
“And they said no, ” Lindeen said. “They said no. They didn’t care about you, they didn’t care about anybody in Montana. You know what they cared about? They cared about defeating President Barack Obama and Jon Tester. ”
She said the voters need to send people to the Legislature who care about Montanans.
She said a voter, who asked her to thank Tester for his work in passing health care reform and how it has helped people the voter knows, said two words should never be said together: senator and Rehberg.
“So lets make sure those two words are never uttered together, ” Lindeen said, adding, “Let’s make sure every Montanan stands up next Tuesday and says ‘no’ to the corporations that want to control our lives and control our future. ”
McCulloch also urged everyone to get out to vote, reminding them that people can register to vote right up to the close of polls Tuesday — something her opponent, Brad Johnson, wants to end.
“We cannot let him do that, ” McCulloch said. “We cannot let him curtail the voting rights … like they are doing in other states. Drag out everyone you know, and don’t know, to vote. ”
Tester joined the other candidates in urging Democrats to get people out to vote — their family, friends, fellow church-goers, co-workers, even “neighbors you maybe haven’t talked to in eight or 10 years. ”
He urged the audience to let people know what they believe hangs on the election on Tuesday.
“It is critically important, ” Tester said. “If we let the corporations buy this state … there is going to be nothing that’s sacred and … our ideas, Montana’s ideas, are not going to be able to control the future of the state. It will be corporate ideas from outside the state and potentially from outside the country. ”