One of the first sign of trouble in Montana was when one of the Green Party’s candidates for the U.S. Senate was a guy who was on the state Republican Party’s payroll. It suggested some of Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) GOP opponents intended to use the Green Party’s ballot slot to undermine the incumbent and elect Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale.
As of this week, those efforts have suffered a setback. The Independent Record in Helena reported:
A Helena judge is ordering the Montana Green Party removed from the ballot this fall, saying the group did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify.
Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds on Monday signed an order directing the Secretary of State to take the Montana Green Party off the ballot after he invalidated signatures gathered through a petition process.
Apparently, in order for the Montana Green Party to appear on the statewide ballot, it had to gather 5,000 signatures from at least 34 of the state House districts. According to Montana Democrats, the Green Party fell several districts short, and this week, a state judge agreed, adding that some of the collected signatures were invalid.
This will likely help Tester, who can’t afford to lose progressive votes if he’s going to keep Republicans from taking his seat, but I’m still curious about how the Montana Green Party collected its signatures in the first place.
Four months ago, on the literal last day before the filing deadline, the Montana Green Party filed the paperwork to appear on the ballot. The Independent Record reported soon after that Dems believed the Greens may have benefited from some outside help from a group out of Las Vegas.
A political consulting firm may have engaged in unreported paid activity to help the Montana Green Party qualify for the ballot this year, according to a complaint filed Tuesday by the Montana Democratic Party.
Montana Democrats claim Advanced Micro Targeting paid people to gather signatures but did not report its activities to the state Commissioner of Political Practices, which will investigate the complaint.
“It is clear that an out-of-state political firm with ties to the Republican Party and a history of misleading voters was hired to electioneer in Montana,” Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Nancy Keenan said in March. “However, the names of who bankrolled this extensive effort are being hidden from the people of Montana. Montanans demand truth in our elections, and we deserve to know if out-of-state dark money is trying to influence our democracy.”
As best as I can tell, this hasn’t been fully resolved, but it makes me wonder about efforts on the right to boost the Green Party this election cycle.