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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

This Week In Montana Politics

U.S. Senate Race

Saturday, Montana Democrats nominated Amanda Curtis to replace John Walsh in the U.S. Senate race.

Following the nomination, the question on many people's minds was 'who is Amanda Curtis?' Curtis, a 34 year-old Math teacher and one-term state representative from Butte, was not widely known before winning the Senate nomination.

Voters have at least one way to learn about Curtis: YouTube. During the 2012 legislative session, Curtis recorded video recaps each day of the session. The videos aren't typical dispatches from a politician. They're not polished and filled with carefully parsed, focus group tested statements. The videos are candid, often emotional reflections on the policy debates and behind-the-scenes politics at the state legislature. They're a good starting point for voters wondering who Amanda Curtis is and what she stands for.

The Montana Republican Party released a video of their own this week, drawn from Curtis' YouTube posts. Titled "Meet Amanda Curtis", the result is a Montana politics Rorschach test, with Curtis' statements likely to repulse Republicans, and reassure Democrats.

Curtis has emphasized working class issues in her short campaign. After winning the nomination, Curtis said, "This election could decide who controls the Senate, and I don't mean the difference between Republicans and Democrats, I mean the difference between the millionaires and the middle class."

Steve Daines told the AP his campaign wasn't affected by Curtis' entry into the race. "It hasn't changed what we're doing," Daines said. "We're staying focused. I've got a job to do right now serving in Congress. I've got a long to-do list and I'm going to keep working on that list."

Campaign Spending

In campaign spending news, Mike Dennison of the Billings Gazette State Bureau reported, "Only one-third of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines’ $5 million in campaign funds has come from Montanans." Dennison also noted that neither Sen. Tester nor his 2012 opponent Denny Rehberg raised more than 20% of their donations from Montana.

After dropping out of the senate race, Sen. Walsh has given almost $180,000 of his campaign funds to the state Democratic Party and to the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Walsh donated $2,000, the maximum allowed under campaign finance laws, to the Curtis Campaign.

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