May 16, 2017

Democrats Still Have No Strategy For Montana Special Election

While some in the Democratic Party struggle to chart a course out of the wilderness, others are fighting with each other about their best path back to relevance. Grassroots activists believe they should heavily invest in every electoral opportunity, while leading Washington Democrats want to husband their limited resources.

Montana’s special election has become the latest flashpoint in this brewing intraparty feud. While Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) wants Democrats to see the race as one that “will reverberate around this country,” many prominent Democrats, according to Politico, are angry that the DCCC is wasting money on a likely lost cause:

“But an increasingly vocal handful of national Democrats, weighing spending priorities ahead of a possible battle for control of the House of Representatives in 2018, grumble that they’re spending at all. Privately, both national and local Democratic operatives admit that Democrat Rob Quist’s chances of beating Republican Greg Gianforte in the race for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s old House seat are razor-thin at best. The DCCC has given Quist a financial boost, which some party operatives have called a waste of money.”

In a slap to the face of Montana Democrats, the DCCC is even saying that a major reason they’re supporting Rob Quist at all is to enhance their ability to recruit for other House races:

“But behind closed doors, top Democratic strategists have acknowledged that the investment the DCCC has made in Montana is partly about recruiting candidates in other races, as opposed to a full-fledged chase for a win in the May 25 special election.”

In a troubling sign for Democrats, the DCCC’s dismissive attitude to Quist’s chances is ruffling feathers on the ground in Montana. Nancy Keenan, the Montana Democratic Party executive director, blasted Washington Democrats, saying they “don’t know [Montana].” Unless Quist pulls off a result even Democrats don’t believe will happen, this special election will be another significant sign of Democratic Party disunity.