Just as most people believed, Republican Greg Gianforte is inching closer to running for Montana Governor.
Gianforte has not officially announced anything, but the Associated Press reported that he filed a candidate statement on Monday with the Commissioner of Political Practices for an exploratory campaign. It is not a declaration of candidacy, but the filing will allow Gianforte to start raising money.
Gianforte filing paperwork made me wonder about two things. First, I wonder if his children will donate to his campaign. Second, for someone as rich as Gianforte, I wonder if being the Governor of Montana would be a lot like having a minimum wage job.
Overall I did not see that much excitement about this step for Gianforte, but the Montana Democrats seem to be very worried about him becoming a candidate. Very worried.
Late Monday afternoon the Montana Democrats issued a statement from their Executive Director, Nancy Keenan, who said:
Today Greg Gianforte, a New Jersey billionaire who is best known for believing seniors have an ‘obligation to work’, supporting job-killing, pro-discrimination policies, and leading the charge on protecting dark money, filed to run for Governor. While Greg Gianforte may think the Governor’s office can be bought, his extreme record will be on full display this election, a record Montanans will soundly reject.
About two hours later, the Montana Democrats sent a “Breaking News” fundraising email asking:
New Jersey billionaire Republican Greg Gianforte is running for governor of Montana.
Let’s be clear: Gianforte is NOT right for Montana. But with his unlimited resources, we know this will be a tough battle.
Can you rush a donation right now to show you stand with Montana Democrats?
The next morning, the Bullock-McLean campaign sent an email with the subject “I have an opponent” telling supporters:
Yesterday Greg Gianforte, who’s expecting the support of out-of-state billionaires, filed to run against me and the next 24 hours are critical.
I need you to chip in $25, $50 or $100 right now.
An hour or so later, the Bullock campaign sent a reminder email.
Then the Montana Democrats launched a website dedicated to Gianforte called, “WhoIsGregGianforte.com.”
It was certainly an energetic 24 hours for the Montana Democrats.
As for the man himself, Gianforte tweeted early Tuesday morning:
MT needs more high paying jobs. We’ve shown how in Bozeman. Filed to explore a potential run for Governor.
It was retweeted 22 times and was tagged as a favorite 19 times.
The angle the Montana Democrats should use in attacking Gianforte is pretty easy to figure out – so easy that even the Montana political media should be able to understand it.
The attacks should all boil down to three things:
First, say “billionaire” every time you say his name. Gianforte is probably richer than anyone to ever run for Montana Governor so throw out the word “billionaire” in every email and repeat it several times a day. Make “billionaire” a nasty word.
Second, use the “out-of-state” tag on him. According to Wikipedia, Gianforte was born in California. In one of the Democrats’ emails they called him “a New Jersey billionaire” but wherever he is from, make sure everyone knows he’s not from Montana. We know how much the native Montana crowd hates out-of-state politicians, although that purity angle did not work too well against Mansfield, Melcher, Burns, or Daines…
The third angle (the most important thing in my opinion) is to tell voters how far to the right Gianforte leans. He must be an extreme right-winger because he talked about a guy in the Bible named Noah building an ark at 600 years old and that retirement is not biblical, right?
Finally, the “party faithful” voters will vote for their candidate no matter what. There will be a solid percentage of people who will vote for a Democrat no matter what (party faithful) and a solid percentage of people who will vote for a Republican no matter what (party faithful). These people are the “sheep voters.”
Then there are people in the middle like me (independent) who will actually compare the candidates and make the selfish choice to vote for the candidate who will best help me.
We, the independents, are who Bullock will need to win. We, the independents, are who Gianforte will need to win.
Trying to impress us is where the fun begins…