Montana voters have begun casting their ballots in the state’s critical midterm election, and candidates are on frenetic last-month campaign schedules.
And that, of course, means endorsements are gaining renewed emphasis, particularly in the high-profile races to represent Big Sky Country in the U.S. House and Senate.
Here’s a roundup of new endorsements:
Social media was abuzz in recent days with a new video showing longtime University of Montana history professor Harry Fritz making a rare political endorsement.
Many of those responding to or sharing the brief video were students in Fritz’s popular and decades-running Montana history class, which drew hundreds of students per semester to the University Auditorium.
Here’s what Fritz said in his Facebook video:
“I’m Harry Fritz from Missoula and I’m supporting Jon Tester for United States Senate. Jon Tester is a Montanan, his parents were Montanans, his grandparents were Montanans. He knows our state, he knows its history, he knows its culture, he knows its strengths and its needs. Jon Tester doesn’t have to pretend to be a Montanan. And that’s why I’m supporting him for the United States Senate.”
Tester, himself once a teacher, responded to the endorsement by thanking Fritz “for more than 50 years of teaching Montana students.”
On Monday, Tester picked up another significant endorsement, this from Montana Native Vote.
In a written release, the organization said Tester was “the best candidate to fight for Indian Country and ensure that Native Americans have a voice in D.C.”
“Tester has been a leader for Native issues in Washington, and fights to make sure that the federal government is following through on its treaty responsibilities to Indian tribes,” the group said. “As a member and former chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has held government accountable to our sovereign tribal nations and has fought to get Indian Country the resources they need.”
The announcement quoted Tester as saying:
“Whether it’s education or health care or voting rights or anything in between, Montana’s tribes deserve representation and someone to fight alongside them in Washington. It’s an honor to be endorsed by Montana Native Vote, and I hope to continue to build on our work to make sure Native Americans have a voice in the Senate.”
Marci McClean, a spokewoman for Montana Native Vote, said Native Americans are often denied “a seat at the table when out-of-touch politicians are making decisions that affect us — but not Jo. Jon listens to us and brings our fight back with him to Washington. We’re proud to stand strong with Jon Tester and his work for Indian Country.”
The organization gave Tester kudos for getting “Montana tribes and tribal law enforcement the tools and resources to seek justice for missing and murdered indigenous women, improve health care access, invest in infrastructure, and expand educational opportunities to Native American students.”
By contrast, the group dinged Tester’s Republican opponent, saying: “Matt Rosendale has regularly ignored the voices of Montana’s tribes. He has voted against educational opportunities for Native students, supports policies that would slash health care access for Native Americans, and even claimed that there was a lack of economic development in Indian Country because Native Americans had not “taken personal responsibility.”
“Recently, Congress moved to recognize the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a move that Tester strongly supports,” the endorsement message said. “In the Legislature, Rosendale voted against a resolution urging federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe.”
Last month, Montana Native Vote endorsed Democrat Kathleen Williams in her race against incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte for Montana’s single seat in the U.S. House.
A key endorsement also came this past week in several races for Montana Legislature when EMILY’sList, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics.
In a release to Montana media, the group endorsed five women for the State Legislature.
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, released the following statement:
“Whether it’s working to prevent substance abuse, expand public education, protect the environment, or speak up for women and families in the Montana House, the passionate devotion to public service shared by these five pro-choice Democratic women is simply remarkable. EMILY’s List is proud to stand with these diverse candidates who will ensure the Legislature works to support every Montanan.”
EMILY’s List endorsed these candidates:
Laura Dever (HD-22)
Barbara Bessette (HD-24)
Jade Bahr (HD-50)
Amelia Marquez (HD-52)
Rep. Laurie Bishop (HD-60)
The group earlier announced its endorsement of Kathleen Williams, the Democrat running against Rep. Greg Gianforte for the U.S. House.