Sept. 2, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Montana Race Tight as Clock Winds Down

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republicans hope that Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg will benefit from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's coattails on Election Day.

The Tester campaign has branded the senator as a Montana farmer who is taking on a Washington politician — one of us versus one of them. Backed up all summer by a string of TV ads that often featured Tester working on his farm, the strategy has been effective and has helped keep the Democrat within striking distance.

“Montanans vote for people who put our state ahead of any political party,” Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said. “We value leaders who make responsible decisions, hold themselves accountable and fight for our freedoms. In this race, that person is Jon Tester, and a lot of Montanans will be voting accordingly.”

The upside for Tester is that a potential 10-point Romney win in Montana would barely be half of either of the winning margins President George W. Bush enjoyed in the Treasure State in his two elections.

The campaign committees and outside groups have spent more than $20 million in independent expenditures on this race, and the ads have taken a turn in recent weeks. Republicans viewed the recent ad by Montana Hunters and Anglers, a group with ties to Tester and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), as an admission that Tester needs help. The anti-Rehberg ad, which was clearly aimed at Republicans, ended with the message: “Vote Cox,” referring to Libertarian candidate Dan Cox.

But Rehberg needs some help, too, as evidenced by the TV and radio ads launched last week by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. After constantly hammering home ties between Tester and Obama, these ads highlighted the connection between Rehberg and Romney.

Now the candidates are making their final personal pleas for votes. Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) joined Rehberg this week on his “Liberate Main Street” bus tour.

Tester is finishing up a four-day, 1,700-mile trek before spending the weekend at get-out-the-vote rallies in the state’s largest cities.

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