Montana Libertarian Party rejects candidate’s endorsement of GOP nominee Rosendale in Senate race

Montana Libertarian Party rejects candidate’s endorsement of GOP nominee Rosendale in Senate race
© Alex Bolton

The Montana Libertarian Party on Friday rejected Libertarian Senate candidate Rick Breckenridge’s endorsement of GOP nominee Matt Rosendale earlier this week, saying that many party members feel "betrayed" by his statement.

“The Montana Libertarian Party continues to fully support and endorse Libertarian Rick Breckenridge for Senate. We believe he is still Montana's best choice of the current candidates because he is a champion of freedom and limiting government while embracing cooperation and rational decision-making," the party wrote in a statement.

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"He is neither a Trump acolyte like his Republican opponent, nor a promoter of fear and divisiveness to manipulate voters like his Democrat opponent,” the statement continued. "Many [party members] feel betrayed by Breckenridge’s statement because Libertarians do not automatically vote for a Republican or Democrat in the absence of a Libertarian candidate."

The party went on to state that the endorsement would have little to no impact on the race, as many Libertarian or independent voters would either not vote in Tuesday's election or would opt to leave the Senate race blank on their ballots.

"The MTLP understands, Breckenridge's disgust and disappointment with the underhanded campaign tactics that preyed on his good name to denigrate Commissioner Rosendale," they added. "However, the MTLP cannot in good conscience agree with Breckenridge’s views about this election."

Breckenridge said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he does not have the votes to win and made the endorsement to push back on “dark money” in politics.

He cited frustration over a campaign mailer that 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.

Rosendale accused allies of Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair Mellman: The triumph of partisanship MORE’s (D) campaign of being the source of the mailer. Tester’s campaign has condemned the mailer, calling Rosendale's claims a “lie” and saying that the Democrat’s campaign is not involved in the direct mail.

Tester is one of 10 Democratic senators defending seats in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: WHCA picking non-comedian for headliner a 'good first step' Five takeaways from Mississippi's Senate debate Watergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump 'he's going too far' MORE won in 2016. Then-candidate Tump won Montana by 20 points.

He is locked in a tight reelection race against Rosendale in a contest that likely will help determine which party controls the Senate.

Recent polls show Tester with a slight edge. Nonpartisan elections handicapper The Cook Political Report rates the race a “toss-up.”