Web Warfare

By Beacon Staff

The battle for the hearts and minds of the Montana electorate has begun in earnest on the Internet: Both Democrats and Republicans are snatching up Web site URLs for opposing candidates and potential candidates and posting attack ads in places where the public might be seeking information for that candidate.

Blog LeftintheWest on July 27 noted the importance for candidates to register their domain names early, linking to a Web site purchased by the state Democratic party attacking former Bigfork Republican lawmaker Bob Keenan. The page contains a link to Youtube that plays the profanity-laced rant by Rep. Mike Lange, R-Billings, from the closing days of the 2007 Legislature. Lange has already announced his candidacy against Baucus.

Keenan may or may not run against U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., but that hasn’t stopped the Dems from launching a pre-emptive attack on Keenan with the Web site.

Never to be outdone in the negative campaign game, the Montana Republican State Central Committee has done the same thing to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch, who is challenging GOP incumbent Brad Johnson for Secretary of State.

In an e-mail to me, Keenan pointed out that while McCulloch has announced her candidacy, he has not done so, nor does he currently hold public office.

Asked about the Keenan Web site Tuesday, Jim Farrell, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party paused for a moment, then replied simply: “Bob Keenan should understand that if he runs for U.S. Senate, he’s going to be in a very tough fight.”