Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in Montana has about one-tenth as much cash heading into the general election season as Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, underscoring the significant financial hurdles facing the challenger despite his strong support from the White House.
Coming off an expensive, four-way Republican primary battle, Rosendale reported $640,000 in cash on hand as of June 30, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Tester reported $6.1 million.
At the same point in the 2012 election Tester had $3.6 million remaining and his challenger, former U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, had $2.7 million.
The election is still more than three months away. Rosendale, Montana’s state auditor, stands to get a boost from appearances on his behalf by President Donald Trump earlier this month and Vice President Mike Pence this week.
He’s also being aided by heavy spending from outside political groups eager to unseat Tester after two terms.
Tester, too, is benefiting from outside money, by groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, which spent almost $1 million in ads attacking Rosendale’s record on public lands.
That has freed up Tester’s campaign to run more positive advertisements, including ones that play up his support for veterans.
“Rosendale has to give people a positive reason to vote for him. If he doesn’t have money, he can’t do that, and that’s a problem,” Montana State University political analyst David Parker said. “He’s not just competing against Jon Tester. He’s competing against all the other Senate candidates running around the country for resources.”
Republicans consider Tester vulnerable in part because Trump won in Montana by 20 percentage points.
Trump vowed to defeat the Democrat lawmaker after he derailed the president’s pick for veteran affairs secretary. Tester released allegations of misconduct that prompted White House physician Ronny Jackson to withdraw from consideration for the post.
Rosendale previously disclosed raising $1 million in the quarter, including more than $700,000 in the weeks after the June 5 primary. He spent close to $1 million in the primary.
“We’re seeing strong momentum for our campaign,” Rosendale spokesman Shane Scanlon said. “The fact is that Jon Tester has spent more than $7 million since last year on his re-election campaign, and that goes to show how worried he is about losing this race.”
Tester raised $3 million in the latest quarter, a personal record.
Tester campaign spokesman Chris Meagher said Rosendale’s out-of-state backers would “stop at nothing” to try to get him elected.
“We are proud of the strong, record-breaking grassroots support of Jon’s campaign from folks all over Montana that will help push back against the flood of special interest money propping up Matt Rosendale,” Meagher said.
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