5 Things to Know For Montana’s Elections

By Beacon Staff

Your Election Day look at the Montana races that will be talked about Tuesday.

1. SENATE RACE COMES DOWN TO WIRE

First-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and his challenger, Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, have been neck-and-neck for nearly two years in a high-stakes campaign that may determine which party controls the Senate. The two have been competing for the few undecided voters who are left, while the candidacy of Libertarian Dan Cox throws another element of uncertainty into the outcome.

2. WILL COURTROOM SIDESHOW AFFECT GOVERNOR’S RACE?

The tussle between Rick Hill and Steve Bullock over a $500,000 donation took the race for governor off the campaign trail and into the courtroom, with Democrat Bullock calling his Republican opponent a lawbreaker for taking the contribution while the state’s limits were in flux due to judicial rulings. Hill says the donation was legal, but a judge’s block on spending it caused his campaign to go dark for several days in the last week of the campaign.

3. DAINES LOOKS TO KEEP CONGRESSIONAL SEAT FOR GOP

Bozeman businessman Steve Daines has led in the polls and in the money race as he seeks to keep Republicans’ hold on Montana’s sole House seat. The incumbent, Denny Rehberg, is challenging U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. But Democrat Kim Gillan, a state senator from Billings, has been looking to score with voters by painting Daines as an extremist who would curb Medicare benefits and abortion rights.

4. MEDICAL MARIJUNA TOPS FIVE BALLOT QUESTIONS

Should Montana’s new restrictions eliminating compensation for medical marijuana providers stay or go? That’s one of five ballot questions voters will decide. The others include parental notification for girls seeking abortions, state services for illegal immigrants, whether corporations are people and whether the government should mandate that individuals buy health insurance.

5. ‘DARK MONEY’ PLAYS BIG ROLE IN MONTANA ELECTIONS

Endless third-party television ads. Mailboxes stuffed with exaggerated attack fliers. Court challenges that throw Montana’s campaign finance laws into uncertainty weeks before Election Day. Outside money and ads by secretive political groups have played a bigger role in this year’s Montana elections than any before, and the legal questions that have arisen as a result promise to continue long after Tuesday.

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