Suppose you are a Democrat Senator in a Republican state. Even though you present yourself as a “blue-dog” (moderate/conservative) senator, you have to fight both your party’s positions on key issues, and your Republican opponent reminding voters that, most of the time, you vote with the purveyors of those positions.
That would make your re-election campaign pretty tough under the best of circumstances.
But wait. What about if, in addition to the uphill climb described above, a political party to your left decides to run a candidate – who the leftist voters of your state, instead of gnashing their teeth and voting for you as an undesirable alternative to the even-more-undesirable Republican, could far more happily vote for instead?
That would make your re-election virtually impossible.
Well, that is exactly what Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) is facing this year.
As noted in Valerie Richardson’s informative article for the Washington Times , Montana’s Green Party has secured enough petition signatures to put a senate candidate on the ballot – one which most assuredly will be to Jon Tester’s left.
And what is Senator Tester going to do about it?
Mr. Tester’s strategy is….to try and get rid of the Green Party:
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana was already facing a tough re-election battle in a state that Donald Trump won by a landslide — and then the Green Party made the Democrat’s job that much tougher by qualifying for the ballot.
Now the Montana Democratic Party is scrambling to oust the Greens. It has asked a judge to decertify the left-wing party by declaring 180 petition signatures invalid for reasons such as bad handwriting, use of initials instead of full names and failure to write in cursive.
The lawsuit, filed April, 2 has the Greens seeing red. They accuse state Democrats of trying to disenfranchise voters in a politically motivated attack.
“They’re scared,” said Danielle Breck, Montana Green Party coordinator. “There seems to be this belief that we’re going to spoil the race, particularly [for] Jon Tester. His seat is at risk, and they’re afraid we’re going to siphon votes from them.”
Is Tester in huge trouble? Obviously, the answer is yes.
And, importantly, this lawsuit may put the kibosh on any realistic chance he has for re-election, regardless of its outcome:
-If the lawsuit is unsuccessful – there is a Green Party candidate on the ballot – virtually every one of his/her votes will be taken from Tester rather than the Republican. Bye-bye Tester;
-If the lawsuit is successful – there is no Green Party candidate on the ballot – a good many Green Party adherents are likely either to write in their party’s would-have-been nominee, or to not vote at all. Bye-bye Tester.
Look, I don’t claim to have a crystal ball. I don’t know for 100% sure any of this will happen.
But if I were betting on Jon Tester to win another term, I would need odds before putting my money down. Big odds.