Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Gave $25

Twenty-five dollars was the median contribution that a Montanan made to the re-election of U.S. Sen Jon Tester

Last year, three out of four Montana political donors who contributed to the U.S. Senate campaigns of all the Democrat and Republican candidates running in the 2018 primary election chose to give their money to Sen. Jon Tester.

That’s according to the 2017 Federal Election Commission’s Itemized Individual reports the candidates filed.

Three-quarters of Montana campaign donors chose Tester over Republican candidates Russ Fagg, Matt Rosendale, Al Olszewski, and Troy Downing combined.

Twenty-five dollars was the median contribution that a Montanan made to the re-election of Tester. Over last year, a median donor gave $250. Tester got nearly 5,000 contributions from Montanans alone.

Close to half of the Montanans who donated to Tester contributed twice, or more. Almost one-tenth of the Montanans donating to Tester gave 10 times, or more. It’s visible looking at last year’s FEC reports that many middle-class Montanans are vested in Tester.

Most of Montana’s political donors who contributed last year to either the U.S. Senate or House campaigns of all the Democratic and Republican candidates running in the 2018 primary election chose to give their money to Tester.

That’s right, more Montana donors chose Tester over Fagg, Rosendale, Downing, Olszewski, and the House candidates Greg Gianforte, John Heenan, Grant Kier, Kathleen Williams, Linda Moss, and Jared Pettinato combined.

I know, it’s not believable. Tester’s Montana donor base is big.

The amount of Montanans supporting the re-election of our two-term senator with their $25 or more donations says plenty. Tester has earned trust.

Sixty percent of all political campaign money that Montanans donated last year to any U.S. House or Senate race went to a Democratic candidate.

Tester, Heenan, Kier, Williams, Moss, Pettinato received 60 percent of all itemized individual contributions from Montanans while Fagg, Gianforte, Rosendale, Olsewski and Downing collected 40 percent of all Montana based 2018 primary dollars.

Not just urban people donated to Tester. Though he clearly got plenty of campaign cash from people living in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings. People living in nearly 150 different towns and cities throughout our state donated to Tester.

There are many towns and cities across our state where the people living there only contributed to Jon Tester and no other statewide Republican or Democrat.

In 2017, Tester received 30 times more individual contributions from Montanans than Rosendale. For the second half of 2017, Tester received 20 times more individual contributions from Montanans than Rosendale.

The median contribution from a Montanan to Tester stayed at $25 for the second half of last year; the median contribution to Rosendale was $500.

Last year people living in the Flathead contributed a significant amount of campaign money to Tester’s reelection, yet it was less than 10 percent of the total amount Montanans donated statewide.

The Flathead’s total political donations to all Republicans and Democrats in Senate and House races remained one-tenth of the statewide total. That’s more than Helena donates but far less than Bozeman alone.

If you already sent Tester $25, do it again. Tester will need all the help Montanans can muster to ward off those nasty ads sure to blanket the airwaves and social media from shady outside-Montana political groups.

It’s a long way from here to November. The June primary is close and solidifies congressional races moving forward. Democrats still have plenty of work ahead to secure seats in Washington.

Luckily for Montana, a dry land farmer like Tester earned a lifetime of practice in that hard work stuff. Plus Tester is productive in Congress with more than a dozen of his bills enacted into law last year. That’s big.

Candidates that win have to articulate plans to grow the local Montana economy, secure our nation, fix our healthcare, and provide some much needed accountability in Congress.

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