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MT: Tensions mount, expletives fly in fiery U.S. Senate contest

By   /   September 14, 2012  /   No Comments

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester speaks to Democrats in June in Helena.

By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org

HELENA – With less than eight weeks until Election Day, tempers are flaring in Montana’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

The contest, a multi-million dollar affair that might just decide which party controls the Senate, is wearing on Democratic incumbent Jon Tester and Republican challenger Denny Rehberg, Montana’s lone congressman since 2001.

Late Thursday, Buzzfeed, an up-and-coming blog about politics and adorable cat pictures, released a video of Rehberg giving the middle finger to a Democratic operative while on a short jaunt in Washington, D.C.

The video, taken by a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tracker, usually a lackey tasked with following a certain candidate with a monopod and video camera in tow, shows Rehberg initially ignoring the operative, but quickly offering the one-fingered salute while entering a D.C. office building just steps from the Capitol.

Rehberg’s campaign team, likely in full damage control mode, denied the congressman made the vulgar gesture. Chris Bond, Rehberg’s campaign spokesman offered a completely rational alternative – the congressman’s head needed scratching at that precise moment.

U.S Rep. Denny Rehberg

“This is ridiculous, and Denny is clearly scratching his head, but it just goes to show how far Senator Tester’s liberal Washington allies will go to try and manufacture a negative story in order to cover up for Tester’s record of 95 (percent) support for President (Barack) Obama’s failed agenda,” Bond told Buzzfeed Thursday.

Of course, Rehberg isn’t alone in showing anger toward political operatives. Tester, too, offered some choice words for a campaign nemesis.

Buried deep in an Aug. 30 Missoula Independent feature about Tester’s struggle to fend off Rehberg and the outside spending groups supporting the Republican challenger is an offering of exactly how the first-term Democrat feels about the GOP’s money man, former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove.

“If I had Karl Rove out picking rock in my field or picking hay bales for half a day and he still put those goddamn ads up, I’d say okay,” Tester told the publication “I’d love to get that son of a bitch out in the field.”

Rove is behind a multi-million dollar effort to oust vulnerable Democrats – like Tester – from office, effectively handing the GOP Senate control. Rove co-founded Crossroads GPS, his attack weapon of choice, and has spent more than $2 million on television ads targeting Montana’s junior senator.

GOP money man

Of course, Tester said little of outside spending groups like Patriot Majority, a front for union interests, and the League of Conservation Voters spending hundreds of thousands – if not millions – to deride Rehberg, except to give them a pass.

“Because of the field we’re on, you have to be able to get ads up that match,” Tester said of liberal outside spending group ads. “Otherwise you just get rolled over.”

Tester’s strong words came about two weeks after his campaign suggested Rehberg comitted a felony by attending an Aug. 7 fundraiser facilitated by Rove in Whitefish. Federal law prohibits outside spending groups like Rove from direct contemplative strategy with candidates like Rehberg.

Contact Dustin Hurst via email at Dustin@Watchdog.org. You might also catch him on Twitter using the @DustinHurst handle. 

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Dustin is the Social Media Coordinator for Watchdog.org and a staff writer for Northwest Watchdog. He specializes in finding government waste, reporting on elections and innovating new media strategies.

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