Libertarian candidate endorses GOP nominee Rosendale in Montana Senate race

Libertarian candidate endorses GOP nominee Rosendale in Montana Senate race
© Alex Bolton

Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge announced Wednesday that he’s backing Republican nominee Matt Rosendale less than a week out from Montana’s marquee Senate race.

During a Wednesday conference call with reporters, Breckenridge said that he doesn’t have the votes to win and wanted to push back against “dark money” in politics.

Breckenridge will still appear on the ballot, but the endorsement is likely a small boost for Rosendale since the Libertarian candidate usually siphons off some votes from Republicans.

Breckenridge cited frustration over a campaign mailer that’s been recently circulated, urging voters to support the Libertarian candidate because Rosendale would bring more government surveillance if elected in November.

The funder of the mailer is unknown. It's a violation of federal campaign finance and election law to not attach a name to a mailer.

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“I’m standing in unity and solidarity with Matt to combat dark money in Montana politics. I’m here to stand and say, with my 3 and 4 percent polling numbers, honestly I’m not going to take the seat,” Breckenridge said on the press call with Rosendale.

"I am here today to support Matt and his candidacy. And endorse him in his continuing effort to be the front man in the cause of liberty.”

Rosendale thanked Breckenridge for the support and standing with him "in exposing this illegal, dark money mailer which was distributed by Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US Bipartisan senators want 'highest possible' funding for carbon capture technology MORE’s allies.” His campaign will soon be filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Tester’s campaign has condemned the mailer, calling the claims from Rosendale a “lie” and saying that the Democrats’ campaign is not involved in the direct mail. Tester's team touted the senator as a champion of fighting back against government surveillance.

“Jon Tester has fought against Republican and Democratic administrations to protect our rights against mass government surveillance, and has voted for and consistently backed a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution,” Tester spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement.

“Matt Rosendale voted against bills to expand digital privacy rights and to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to retrieve cell phone and email data. He oversaw increased spending every year he served in the legislature, and backed legislation that will add $2 trillion to our national debt.”

Tester is locked in a tough reelection fight against Rosendale in a race that’s likely to help determine which party controls the Senate.

Recent polls show Tester with a small lead, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE and other Republicans barnstorm the state in the final week. Trump carried Montana by 20 points in the 2016 election.

Following the conference call, Breckenridge told The Great Falls Tribune in an interview that he expects his announcement to potentially affect 1 percent of the vote since many people have already cast their absentee ballots.

"I am making a stand above and beyond my personal desires," he said.