A source in Washington DC familiar with the deliberations of the Republican Governors Association, which makes independent large expenditures on behalf of gubernatorial candidates, tells me that the group is walking away from Montana because of Greg Gianforte’s sagging poll numbers, which show Gianforte losing to Bullock right now by anywhere from 8 to 11 points. The RGA has pulled its ads in Montana and has gone dark. The DGA, meanwhile, is pouring in money on ads to help Bullock.
It’s a shocking turn of events, given that the RGA is a group with unlimited means (corporate money of every size and shape) and usually outspends the DGA nationally by 3-1 and has rately spent less than a million bucks on a Montana governor’s race. But they will only do so if the candidate shows that he (or she) can make a game of it. At this point, my source tells me, the RGA is not convinced that the race is winnable.
This is why Greg Gianforte has just put another million or so into the race. You may have noticed his new ads featuring Steve Daines who tries to vouch for Gianforte by telling us that their two families used to go backpacking together (it’s not made clear why this means that Gianforte would be a better governor than Bullock.) Those ads, at 60 seconds a piece, are ferociously expensive. Gianforte is going for broke. He’s got no other options.