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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Donald Trump Jr. Stumps for Rosendale in Bozeman

Corin Cates-Carney
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale speaks to a crowd at the Gallatin County Fairground September 26. Donald Trump Jr. headlined the rally.

Donald Trump Jr. packed an exhibit hall with Trump-agenda supporters in Bozeman last night to rally conservative support in Montana’s U.S. Senate Race.

“You have to realize that Donald Trump is on the ticket in six weeks," Trump Jr. said.  "I want to keep winning for another six years.”

The rally came as Rosendale has been in the headlines for alleged campaign finance ethics breaches, and as his opponent, Democratic Senator Jon Tester, has attacked him for switching positions on federal ownership of public lands.

Rosendale is fueling his campaign on the wave of Republican voters that handed Trump a 20-point win in Montana two years ago. While Trump’s job approval rating has dropped since that election, he remains popular here.

The ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and t-shirts that brand Trump’s first term spotted the crowd of several hundred people in the one of the Gallatin County fairground warehouses.

A local retiree with a shirt reading 'build the wall 10 feet higher' told me before the rally started that Trump is exactly what this country needs and the president needs more Republicans in Congress to support him, hence the root of his support for Rosendale.

When Rosendale took the stage Tuesday night, he pitched himself as a small town conservative who, during his time in the state legislature and currently as the State Auditor, has worked to limit government spending and cut regulations.

He stirred up the crowd with talk of the ongoing battle over Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing allegations of sexual assault from decades ago.

“I want to tell you there is nothing that is more important than a role a U.S. Senator has in confirming or denying confirmations to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Rosendale said. 

Democrat Jon Tester faces a Friday vote on Kavanaugh. He hasn’t yet said how intends to vote on the nominee. Rosendale has attacked Tester for voting to confirm Obama Supreme Court pick Sonya Sotamayor.

Tester has run a campaign highlighting his ability to work with the president to pass legislation, including bills benefiting veterans. Tester suffered his own negative headlines two weeks ago when the Associated Press confirmed Rosendale’s claim that Tester was the number one recipient of cash from lobbyists at one point during this election cycle.

Montana’s U.S. Senate race is gaining increasing attention from the Trump admination as voters here are two weeks away from receiving their mail ballots.

Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Bozeman early next week to campaign for Rosendale in an attempt to flip the fast growing Gallatin County for Trump. The president lost the county by 444 votes out of more than 48,000 cast, in 2016.

Credit Corin Cates-Carney
Protesters gathered outside a rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in Bozeman September, 26.

Outside the Donald Trump Jr.-Rosendale rally, Gallatin County’s split view of the president was on display. At least a hundred protesters gathered holding signs and occasionally chanting.

Alanna Brown, from Bozeman, was among them and says she supports Tester.

“I believe in a democracy," Brown said. "I believe in having two parties. I grew up with functioning republican and Democratic parties. This is just horrible. What we’re seeing horrible. People aren’t not working together, but one party is not protecting the citizens.”

Some protest organizers said they were concerned about the cost of the Republican rally on local taxpayers. The Gallatin County undersheriff told Montana Public Radio before the rally started that four police officers were planned to run on overtime to monitor for anything getting out of hand at the rally.

As the Trump supporters filed out of the fairground a little after 8 p.m., some sticking around to take selfies with the president’s oldest son, a handful of protesters remained waiving the signs in the dark as the parking lot cleared.

Late voter registration starts on October 10. Absentee ballots will to out not later than October 12.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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