Rosendale pleads for cash amid Tester's spending onslaught

Rosendale pleads for cash amid Tester's spending onslaught
© Getty

KALISPELL, Mont. — Senate Republican candidate Matt Rosendale pleaded with supporters at Flathead County Fairgrounds Saturday to open up their wallets and consider giving as little as $10 to help his campaign, which he said is living “hand to mouth.” 

Rosendale is running against Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms MORE (D-Mont.), whose campaign is blanketing television and radio with ads touting him as an “independent” and a native Montanan. Rosendale was criticized in the past for having moved there from Maryland in the 2000s.

“We have been outspent by millions of dollars,” Rosendale said, standing on stage in the exposition hall with a massive American flag draped behind him. “If you can help us to push the end of this campaign with $10, $25 — greatly appreciate anything you’re willing to do."


“It will help,” he added. “We’ve been going hand to mouth, like many of you in your own budgets each week.” 

Tester has raised $19.2 million for his campaign compared with the $4.7 million raised by Rosendale, according to the reports filed earlier this month with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 

Tester spent $17.7 million while Rosendale has spent $4.2 million, leaving Tester with $1.6 million on hand compared to only $524,000 in Rosendale’s account, according to the FEC.  

Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpHouse chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Sarah Sanders says she was interviewed by Mueller's office Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE’s eldest son, who appeared at a rally Saturday morning for Rosendale, emphasized that Tester is the No. 1 recipient of lobbyist campaign contributions in Congress. 

“Of 535 people in the Senate and the House, all of Congress, 535 people, Jon Tester was the number one recipient of D.C. lobbyist dollars,” Trump Jr. said, citing a statistic by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending. 

“How much of that money do you think goes to, let’s say, push Montana values? How much of that money goes to do things that benefit Montana?” he said, receiving loud replies of “none” from the audience. 

Tester's campaign disputed the Republican characterization that Tester was the top recipient of lobbyist money. Tester's campaign said he was only the top recipient in the 2018 cycle but other lawmakers had received more money from lobbyists throughout their career.

The radio waves in northwestern Montana are filled with ads touting Tester’s independence and position as the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Chris Meagher, a Tester campaign spokesman, noted that according to The Center for Responsive Politics, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved MORE (R-Ky.) had collected more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions linked to lobbyists over his career. 

He also pointed out that Tester has raised about $4 million from within Montana, about the total amount of money Rosendale has raised from within and out of the state. 

Tester and Rosendale have battled over the topic of lobbyist cash throughout the campaign. 

An Associated Press “Fact Check” from September found “Tester was the top recipient in Congress of money from lobbyists for a time,” citing the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Rosendale has benefited from GOP-allied outside advocacy groups spending heavily in the state to boost his campaign. 

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that outside groups have spent a total of $16 million to help Rosendale —$3.2 million on ads supporting him and $13 million on ads opposing Tester. 

The group found that outside groups have spent roughly the same amount to help Tester. 

Veterans make up about ten percent of the roughly 1 million people who live in Montana.