American Tradition Partnership Declares ‘Sweep’ in Primaries

By Beacon Staff

The day after the June 5 primary elections, American Tradition Partnership sent out a press release declaring: “Montana’s American Tradition Partnership Sweeps State Legislative Elections.”

The sub-head clarified that it wasn’t a clean sweep: “ATP-led grassroots coalition paves way for victory in 12 of 14 targeted districts.”

The press release stated that “ATP-Montana members and a broad section of the public, including a majority of voters, helped push pro-jobs candidates across the finish line in targeted districts across the state.”

“This isn’t just a victory for ATP-Montana, it’s a victory for all ratepayers, property owners and businesspeople across the Treasure State,” Doug Lair, state coordinator for ATP-Montana, said in a statement. “Whether it’s against foreign corporations coming after our property rights or Gang Green’s hand-picked politicians bilking us through our utility bills, ATP-Montana will continue to fight for working people.”

American Tradition Partnership has made lots of headlines in Montana over its efforts to fight the state’s campaign finance laws. The organization is currently engaged in a high-profile court battle with Attorney General Steve Bullock over the state’s century-old anti-corruption act, which bans direct corporate spending in political campaigns.

The group is based in Washington D.C. but has coordinators on the ground in Montana, which became increasingly apparent throughout this primary election season. As I reported in late May, ATP was among the third-party groups paying for mailers and radio ads opposing certain candidates in the Republican legislative primaries. Among those candidates was Kalispell Sen. Bruce Tutvedt.

Which brings us to Wednesday’s press release. It would appear that Tutvedt was one of ATP’s only two “losses” out of its 14 targeted districts. Tutvedt, the Senate President Pro Tempore last session, narrowly defeated newcomer Rollan Roberts II with 2,147 votes compared to Roberts’ 2,076.

One of ATP’s local victories, it seems, was Dee Brown over Bill Beck in the Senate District 2 Republican primary. ATP had criticized Beck in mailers for his support of House Bill 198, which dealt with eminent domain for energy utilities. The group also criticized Tutvedt for the same thing, among other criticisms.

I’m not sure exactly which other primary races make up the 14 targeted districts described in ATP’s release. But I am sure that we haven’t seen the end of ATP this election season.

“With gas prices sky-high and legislators openly wondering where to make up for expected revenue shortfalls,” the group’s press release stated, “ATP’s pro-resource development agenda is sure to weigh heavily in the legislative elections in November, and particularly as party nominees Rick Hill and Steve Bullock face off in the race for governor.”