A close Senate contest in Montana may have taken a turn in favor of Republican candidate Matt Rosendale, as Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge dropped out of the race Wednesday and endorsed his Republican opponent.
According to Fox News, the dramatic move happened after an ominous and illegal mailer was sent out by an unknown group saying “Matt Rosendale wants to use drones and patrols to spy on our private lives.”
The mailer also endorsed Breckenridge saying, “Rick Breckenridge is a true conservative and opposes government intrusion into Montanans’ private lives.”
As a result, Breckenridge stepped out of the race and endorsed Rosendale saying he wanted to take a stand against “dark money.”
The mailer was apparently intended to draw libertarian-minded voters away from Rosendale and bring them over to Breckenridge’s column, thus, ensuring the victory for incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
According to Fox, the mailer violated state and federal election laws because it didn’t identify the group that sent it. It remains to be seen who actually was behind it, but the Fox article pointed out that the tactics used are similar to those used by “Democratic groups that supported Tester’s 2012 bid, where a mailer was sent out to promote another libertarian candidate.”
In the 2012 election, Tester won by 4 points after the Libertarian candidate drew 6 percent of the vote.
These 6 percentage points were just enough to put Tester over his Republican opponent. Had the 6 points gone to the Republican candidate, Tester would not have won.
Breckenridge told The Associated Press that he doesn’t know the source of the mailer and called it an attempt by “dark money” to influence the election. Because of that, he felt like he needed to endorse his Republican opponent, despite disagreeing with some of his views.
“The reality, is I’m only going to get 3 or 4 percent of the vote,” he told the AP, “and (Rosendale) has the character to combat this issue.”
“I’m standing in unity and solidarity with Matt to combat dark money in politics,” he said.
Rosendale willingly took Breckenridge’s endorsement and accused the “allies of Tester” for pushing the “dark money mailer.”
Tester, however, denied the allegations in a statement from spokesman Chris Meagher.
“This is yet another lie from Matt Rosendale,” he said. “Our campaign had nothing to do with this mailer, and Jon believes all campaign expenditures should be disclosed.”
“We condemn this mailer and any other efforts like it.”
RealClearPolitics considers this race a “Toss Up” as Tester leads with 4 percentage points.
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