GOP watches special elections nervously for signs of 'Trump effect'

The online headline added: "What Scandal?"

National strategists are also paying close attention because the results could signal whether support for Trump is already waning in traditional conservative territory, or holding steady.

Republicans privately say Gianforte is going to win by fewer than 5 points, Democrats predict a double-digit loss.

A multimillionaire with an East Coast education stepped off a campaign jet here recently and took jabs at reporters, pledged to "drain the swamp" and drowned his opponent in insults and punch lines.

President Donald Trump is weighing in on the Montana special election this week with a robocall in support of Republican candidate Greg Gianforte.

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Gianforte says there's one aspect of the bill he likes: It gives states more flexibility to design their own variations on the aforementioned coverage rules.

Some of the media's new-found Russophobia would sure have come in handy during the Cold War.

"It would be a mistake to assume all of the enthusiasm is on the left, I think there does exist enthusiasm on the right", the strategist said. "And he's a successful businessman". But the overwhelming majority of outside spending in this race has been for Gianforte and against Quist.

Trump won the state by a healthy 56%-35% and his approval rating is still above water in internal polls from both parties. Mr. Quist said he would fight to protect health insurance, encourage student debt forgiveness and keep drillers off federal acres.

The outcome depends to some extent on how Montanans view the turmoil created by Trump as revelations appear in the media practically every day about his connections to Russian oligarchs, divulging of highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and a series of stumbles on policy and personnel. The only precinct to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race was in Arlee, a small town of 636 people dubbed the "southern gateway" to the Flathead reservation.

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A more recent survey suggested that the race may be tightening.

"There's been so much money thrown at this race - it's the most expensive race in Montana's history and the shortest race in Montana's history - [that] it's reached a saturation point", said Montana GOP Sen.

"Republicans should be anxious that they've had to dump so many dollars in to try to defend a district that they shouldn't have had to spend a penny in", Lujan said. He lost to Bullock, 50 percent to 46 percent, even though Trump carried the state by more than 20 percent, Zinke won re-election and Republicans captured four of Montana's five statewide offices. A new plan could shutter hospitals in places where the medical center buoys both health and the local economy.

While Quist has gotten most of his money from individual donors, he has also benefited from independent campaign committees, such as Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which was responsible for about half of the roughly $800,000 in spending on Quist's behalf.

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In what is turning out to be "a recurring nightmare" for Republicans, Democratic challenger Rob Quist is doing unexpectedly well in the deep red state, Politico writes.

  • Nancy Warren