Montana special election candidates spar over gun rights

The candidates for the Montana special election launched dueling ads on Thursday, touting their support for gun rights.

Democrat Rob Quist, a local folk musician, is squaring off against Republican Greg Gianforte, a wealthy businessman who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2016, to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Quist’s campaign unveiled a 30-second ad, “Defend” that shows him  carrying his family’s rifle and vowing to protect Montanans’ gun rights.



“I won’t stand by while a millionaire from New Jersey tries to attack my Montana values,” Quist said, referring to Gianforte. The spot ends with Quist shooting at a TV screen that features an attack ad.

Gianforte used to be in New Jersey but has lived in Montana for two decades.

The ad plays up Quist’s support for gun rights after he came under fire earlier this year for suggesting a registry for assault weapons.

Gianforte’s campaign followed up with its own TV ad, “Grab,” that claims Quist wants to establish a national gun registry where personal information would be stored in a “big government computer.”

“Some folks just don’t get it. Our Second Amendment rights are not up for negotiation,” Gianforte said in the ad.

The Montana Republican also ends his ad with him shooting at a computer screen.

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With the Kansas special election in the rearview mirror and Georgia’s race now headed for a runoff, national attention has now shifted to Montana’s special election.

Republican groups got in early and started spending to protect the reliably red seat. Now, national Democrats are getting involved with an initial six-figure investment.

The race has also seen an influx of high-profile endorsements. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) recently endorsed Quist’s campaign and will stump with him across the state starting in May.

For Gianforte, Donald Trump Jr. will begin campaigning with him at rallies on Friday and Saturday. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won Montana by 20 points.

The special election is scheduled for May 25.