Montana Public Radio

Tester, Williams Appeal To Young Voters In Bozeman

Oct 26, 2018

Outside groups supporting the candidates in Montana’s U.S. Senate race have now dumped close to $33 million into the race, bringing total spending in the contest to date to around $60 million, a record. Recent polls say the race between Republican Matt Rosendale and Democrat Jon Tester is tightening.

The candidates are making their final push to convince the remaining undecided voters, rally their base, and attract media attention.

Inside a ballroom at Montana State University several dozen supporters gathered Friday for a get out the vote rally featuring Democratic U.S. House Candidate Kathleen Williams, Supreme Court Clerk Rex Renk and, of course, Senator Tester.

“And the millennial vote is going to be incredibly important," Tester told the crowd. "It is going to decide who is going to be the next U.S. Senator from Montana. It is going to decide who is going to be the next person to represent us in the House of Representatives. It’s going to decide who is going to be the Clerk of the Supreme Court.”

A recent poll of 2000 likely voters by Montana Television Network and Montana State showed Democrats Tester and Williams have more support than their opponents among people age 18-39. However younger voters have often been a notoriously difficult group to get out to the polls.

Rex Renk is running for clerk of the Montana Supreme Court.
Credit Corin Cates-Carney

Another obstacle for the Democrats is President Donald Trump’s favorability in Montana. The poll says his is the highest of any politician here, at more than 54 percent. Republicans Matt Rosendale and Congressman Greg Gianforte have run campaigns closely aligning themselves with the president.

Tester’s pitch to the crowd at MSU today was to vote to protect their own future.

"You're going to be taking this place over and we’re going to be needing to address things like climate change, workers rights, and the national debt, and all sorts of other issues that are so critically important to this generation — and by the way I might add, the cost of higher education,” Tester said.

At the rally, U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams told her supporters to tell their friends to get out and vote and reminded them, as she has incessantly leading up to election day, that last year Greg Gianforte assaulted a journalist, and his campaign initially blamed the journalist for the aggression.

"At a minimum, we should expect that our members of Congress speak the truth,” Williams said.

House Candidate Kathleen Williams and Senator Jon Tester at a campaign rally in Bozeman, October 26, 2018.
Credit Corin Cates-Carney

Congressman Gianforte is also on a get out the vote tour today and this weekend. He’s joining Rosendale, along with Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle on an eight-city tour, which included Bozeman today. 

Since the start of October Gianforte has loaned his campaign $1 million. His fundraising total to date is around $3.5 million, not including the loan. Williams has received additional financial backing from the women’s advocacy group Women Vote, according to the Associated Press. She’s raised just over $3 million.

As of Thursday night, just over a quarter of Montana’s 703,000 voters had cast their ballots.