Published on March 1st, 2017 | by Montana Mint Staff
Emergency Zinke Replacement Power Rankings!
Ryan Zinke (finally!) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which means the 100 days-ish race to replace him is on. Democrats are scheduled to hold their convention on Sunday, March 5. Republicans are rumored to be choosing their candidate March 12.
There are a lot of moving pieces, and we at the Montana Mint thought we should put out an EMERGENCY POWER RANKING to sort out who’s on top, who is trending up, and who is trending down in the race to be Montana’s lone Congressman.
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On to the rankings…
1. Greg Gianforte (trending upwards)
Greg has raised almost $1 million, has been very active in recruiting convention voters. Despite some rough patches with folks from his own party, there’s no one that even comes close to Gianforte in funds and name recognition, which is mostly due to his narrowly-lost run for governor this past cycle. If anyone manages to knock off Greg, it will be the upset of the decade.
2. Rob Quist (trending upwards)
With the backing of former Governor Schweitzer, Quist has quickly moved from political novice to frontrunner for the Democratic Party. He has high name ID thanks to his time in the Mission Mountain Wood Band, has created new County Central Committees to increase the number of people that can vote for him, and comes off as genuine, which has served Democrats in the state well (see: Jon Tester, Brian Schweitzer).
3. Amanda Curtis (flat trend line)
Curtis entered the race with some anticipated juice because she had solid name recognition from her 2014 Senate race. But the response to her candidacy seems lukewarm. Perhaps Democrats looked into her electoral history and felt uninspired. Despite her high name ID, Curtis’s campaign experience is fairly weak. In 2012, she ran unopposed for her State House seat. In 2014, she lost 58-40 against Steve Daines for the US Senate. In 2016, she ran unopposed again for the State House. Apart from that, her husband is reportedly a prolific internet commenter…no good can come from that.
4. Dan West (trending upwards)
West is an unknown to most – a Missoula native, he spent the past few years working in the Senate in Washington for Senator Baucus and was most recently a NASA official. He dove into the race with a great ad, and just yesterday he picked up the endorsement of comedian, musician, and Great Falls native Reggie Watts. If this were a traditional primary, younger voters might be able to give him an edge, but with the more established delegates at the convention, it will be interesting to see how many he’s able to pick up.
5. The Republican Field (flat trend line)
It’s Gianforte vs. everyone else, and everyone else doesn’t have much of a chance. We reported the exclusive that Ed Buttrey commissioned a poll to knock off Gianforte, but we haven’t seen that poll yet, and Buttrey isn’t exactly raking in the delegates or the dollars. A few of the other Republican candidates could beat the Democrats ranked above them, but we don’t think they’ll have the opportunity.
6. Kelly McCarthy (trending downwards)
If you said “who?” when you read Kelly McCarthy, you’re not alone. McCarthy was most recently a member of the state legislature and now has thrown his hat into the ring to represent Montana in Congress. He’s also been making the rounds to local Dems, but hasn’t done a lot to stand out in a crowd of unique Democratic candidates. He seems like a nice fella, but we’ve accidentally been calling him Kelly McDermott in the Mint offices for a couple weeks, and no one corrected us. Not a good sign.
7. The Democratic field (trending downwards)
They’ve got a musician, a failed Senate candidate, a DC insider, and a legislator…everyone else is outside looking in. With no clear frontrunner, Montana Dems are going to have to get behind their candidate quickly and raise a bunch of cash after the convention to have a chance at beating G̶i̶a̶n̶f̶o̶r̶t̶e̶ the Republican candidate.