The recurrent Montana State University-Billings poll was published Tuesday and shows Steve Bullock with a commanding lead,12 points at 44-32, and so it looks like the Governor is in strong shape.
Gianforte’s negative campaign has been largely ineffective and this new poll is a deflating and embarrassing event, all the more so because it comes on the heels of a report showing that Gianforte has plowed a massive $5.2 million of his own cash into the race. Expect him to spend another million in these final two weeks. Steve Bullock gave a press conference Tuesday comparing Gianforte to a Copper King, trying to buy the state government.
As for those that say Gianforte is a great businessman, I’m starting to wonder. He has paid $5.2 million for something that an average Republican citizen could get for free–your name on a ballot, and a vote total in the low 40s.
If all of this news isn’t bad enough for him, there’s worse: the Bozeman Chronicle is excoriating Gianforte for drawing up fake headlines for his TV commercials. He is running attack ads against Bullock showing images which are supposedly taken from real Bozeman Chronicle articles with ominous headlines declaring the Bullock Administration termination of state employees is somehow related to “whistle blowing” and not the myriad of other reasons employees might be terminated (poor performance, policy violations, failure to complete assignments, not showing up on time, bad customer service, etc etc.)
Problem is, it’s all bogus. The headlines are fraudulent (as are the ad’s allegations). And the Chronicle took Gianforte to task for it in an article today. Gianforte’s campaign has somehow managed to figure out that personnel laws prevent employers from saying why an employee has been let go, so they make up the “whistle blowing” ruse knowing it can’t be refuted. We know Gianforte is well aware of this, given how often he brags about having been an employer himself. It’s shady below the belt politics of the lowest order. The attorney behind this is…wait for it… the attorney for the Montana Republican Party.
This is not the first time that Gianforte’s honesty has been called into question. He has lied on many issues, including his support of a sales tax, his closing off a fishing easement, and his story about a Facebook executive supposedly trashing the Montana economy. The Billings Gazette editorial board observed long ago that he has “a tendency to talk without having the facts to back him up.”
GOP legislators appear to be trying to do the same, although it doesn’t appear to be going well for this bunch either. Recently, one such politically motivated lawsuit was tossed out by courts. (Remember when the GOP decried frivolous lawsuits and purported to oppose wasting taxpayer money?) Republican state lawmakers recently tarnished their own reputations over allegations they improperly obtained private personal data, including Social Security numbers, of Montana citizens from former state employees.
And one final note about the poll, namely, that when I suggested last week in my new Cowgirl Polling Average feature that the Mason Dixon poll showing it a two-point race should be taken with a grain of salt because the polling firm was biased a few points conservative, I was mocked by a few other bloggers for supposedly trying to explain away a tight poll. But I stand vindicated. I said that a poll of polls puts the race at around a six point Bullock lead with the Libertarian loon Breckenridge getting around 3.5. This weekend two more Democrat polls confirmed this number, and if you average the Mason Dixon with the MSUB, it too comes to….7 points Bullock.