HELENA — The candidates in Montana's U.S. Senate race traded jabs this week over campaign donations from politicians blocking the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. Here's a look at the week's most interesting and important developments in Montana's election campaigns.
DAINES, WALSH SPAR OVER CAMPAIGN DONORS:
Democratic U.S. Sen. John Walsh criticized his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, for fundraising with and taking campaign donations from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, one of three senators who blocked passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act Walsh is co-sponsoring.
Daines pushed his version of the legislation to protect the area west of Glacier National Park from future energy development through the U.S. House earlier this year.
"Congressman Daines is ready to accept political contributions from his Senate allies, but didn't want to do the tough work of getting the bill passed," Walsh campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua said.
Brock Lowrance with the Daines campaign told The Associated Press Walsh is trying to turn the bill into a political chess piece. "Steve Daines was able to get House Leadership to put it forward for a vote and pass it, why can't John Walsh get (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid to do the same?" he said.
CANDIDATES INTRODUCE, ADVANCE LEGISLATION:
Walsh introduced legislation this week that would impose new rules that would prevent Congress from attempting to sell off public lands. In April, the House of Representatives passed a budget proposal by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan that included the authority to sell off up to 21 million acres of public land in Montana.
Daines joined the House in passing three energy-related bills. One would expand the production of energy resources in the U.S., while another calls for exporting liquefied natural gas to U.S. allies. The third bill would remove the presidential permit requirement for construction and operation of oil or gas pipelines, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, that cross U.S. borders into Canada and/or Mexico.
REPUBLICANS RESOLVE TO CLOSE PRIMARY ELECTIONS, CLASH OVER IMPLEMENTATION:
Montana Republicans recently resolved to close their primary elections to nonparty members. The resolution's sponsor, House District 69 candidate Matthew Monforton, clashed with party leaders this week over the timeline for implementing the change. Monforton wants the party to file a federal lawsuit now while party leaders said no action will be taken on the matter until at least 2015.
SECRETARY OF STATE CERTIFIES 2014 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS:
Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch has certified the 2014 primary election results and confirmed the accuracy of the vote count. She said a postelection audit of the vote-counting machines verified the tabulations in each county.