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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Jeff Bridges Campaigns For Jon Tester In Bozeman

Jeff Bridges speaks with Richard Wagner, the ASMSU Political Action Director at the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman, October 17, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney
Jeff Bridges speaks with Richard Wagner, the ASMSU Political Action Director at the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman, October 17, 2018.

“The Dude” is stumping for Democrat Jon Tester. Actor Jeff Bridges spoke to the College Democrats of Montana in Bozeman Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the latest celebrity appearance of the state’s increasingly high-profile U.S. Senate race.

The actor famous for his chill, bathrobe-wearing character "The Dude" in the film "The Big Lebowski," drew a young crowd of nearly 400 people that local Democrats tried to turn into immediate voters.

Mara Maus is a field organizer for the party.

“We are going to be providing transportation to people who need to turn in their ballots down at the courthouse or need to register late,” Maus said.

Wednesday’s event started and ended with that announcement — that vans would be available to drive people down to the Gallatin County courthouse to either turn in a ballot or to sign up to vote.

The headliner, Jeff Bridges, sat before the crowd in a ballroom at Montana State University for a roughly 20 minute Q & A on politics and his film career.

“When I see Tester on the tube and hear him talk, I’m in agreement with everything that he says," Bridges told the crowd. "He’s such a great representative of the state.”

Bridges said he likes Tester’s stance on education, health care, and veterans; although he didn’t get into the details about what specifically he liked about Tester’s policies.

Bridges encouraged the young campus crowd to go out and vote and to not be complacent when they see the nastiness of recent politics.

"'Come on,' you say, ‘It’s all ridiculous, this is crazy.’ That's very dangerous,” Bridges said.

Not once did Bridges or the Democratic party moderator attack or even mention Tester’s Republican challenger, Matt Rosendale.

The conversation was mild-tempered, its tone a stark contrast to recent big name rallies held by Republican Matt Rosendale, that have featured the president, vice president, and the president's friends and family.

The celebrity headliner rallies will continue to ramp up in coming days, at least for Republicans. Donald Trump comes to Missoula Thursday. His eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle are scheduled to travel to the state next week for a two-day bus tour.

Recent polls call this year's Senate race a toss-up.

Celebrity appearances on behalf of candidates create new media impressions for free in what has become the most expensive Senate race in Montana history, with more than $45 million being spent by the candidates and outside groups supporting them.

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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