Chamber of Commerce declines to endorse in MT’s U.S. Senate race

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 22:07:18-04

Montana’s top business lobby Monday declined to endorse a candidate in the state’s top election race, the U.S. Senate.

At least two-thirds of the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s board must agree to an endorsement and no candidate in the high-profile Senate contest mustered that super-majority, the chamber said in a news release.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is running for a third consecutive term. He’s being challenged by Republican Matt Rosendale, Libertarian Rick Breckenridge and Green Party candidate Steve Kelly.

The campaigns of Tester and Rosendale seized upon the non-endorsement as a sign that their respective opponents are bad for business in Montana.

Tester’s campaign noted he supported a recent bill easing federal regulations on smaller banks and called Rosendale a “lapdog for insurance companies.”

“Business knows that he is wrong for Montana and has now rejected him twice by not endorsing him in his runs for higher office,” said Tester campaign spokesman Luke Jackson. Rosendale is the state auditor and insurance commissioner.

Rosendale’s campaign said Tester has a record of “hurting Montana small business and workers,” such as his opposition to the 2017 Republican federal tax-cut bill and support for “Obamacare.”

The Chamber often endorses Republicans, and did give the nod to the re-election of GOP U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, who is being challenged by Democrat Kathleen Williams and a Libertarian and Green Party candidate.

However, it also endorsed Democrat Doug Kaercher of Havre in the race for Public Service Commission District 1 in northern Montana, over Republican Randy Pinocci of Sun River. It also endorsed Republican PSC Chairman Brad Johnson over Democratic challenger Andy Shirtliff in western Montana’s District 5.