MONTANA | MT-sen

Trump’s Tester Criticism Fires Up Race

Troy Downing’s trial for hunting violations has been pushed after the primary election.

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Drew Gerber
May 7, 2018, 11:22 a.m.

“Trump’s fierce criticism—calling Sen. Jon Tester (D) ‘dishonest and sick,’ saying he knows things about the senator that would make him unelectable—has jolted Republicans to life in a race that has long been seen as just out of their reach. GOP groups are running advertisements parroting Trump’s complaints, and candidates echo him on the trail. A top donor is giving the race a closer look. But it’s unclear whether that will be the potent weapon Republican strategists are hoping for, even in a state Trump won by more than 20 points. … [T]he president’s incursion has not only energized conservative voters to engage with the Senate race—it has also spurred enthusiasm among liberal voters who despise the president and support Tester, who has cultivated a relatable, populist image.” (Washington Post)

In an interview Thursday, Tester “sounded a lot more concerned about the weather come July than about the prospect of an enraged President Trump campaigning against him in the fall. … He said that looking back over the past month and his vetting of Veterans Affairs secretary nominee Ronny Jackson, he wouldn’t have done anything different than he did.”

Tester: “We didn’t seek this information. It came to us. And I was doing my constitutional duty. I did what I thought was right and important to do. Now we need to move on and get another nominee.” (Montana Standard)

TRIALS BY FIRE. Air Force veteran Troy Downing’s (R) “trial for hunting violations has been pushed back till July 25, about a month after the state’s primary election.” Originally scheduled for two weeks before the primary, a Gallatin County Justice of the Peace approved Downing’s motion for postponement, in which he argued a May 23 trial would be “a hardship” as he prepared for the election. Prosecutors didn’t oppose the delay. Downing “faces several misdemeanors accusing him of trying to buy Montana resident hunting or fishing licenses as an out-of-state resident,” in addition to charges that he transferred a hunting license to another person and assisted an unqualified applicant in obtaining a license. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

Paul Bessel, a Maryland resident, filed a complaint with the Compliance Director of the Maryland Comptroller’s office claiming that state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) “perjured himself on a document, falsely claiming he was a Maryland resident to obtain a tax break on a land sale.” Bessel notes “Rosendale voted in Montana and ran for elected offices that only residents of Montana can hold before deliberately claiming to be a Maryland resident on a legal document.” (Montana Post)

RAIN CHECK. “Citing ‘a family emergency at the last minute,’ President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn” could not attend a rally in Billings Sunday for Downing. Flynn announced his change of plans in “a selfie-style video published on YouTube Saturday. … In the video, Flynn endorses Downing, citing his military experience, character and lack of political background. … Flynn also takes time in the video to criticize” Tester over his questioning of former VA Secretary nominee Ronny Jackson. (Billings Gazette)

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