Television actress stumps for Democrat in Missoula; Republicans respond with Snapchat ad
MISSOULA — A minor celebrity from the television sitcom “Who’s The Boss?” and a Snapchat ad were used as opposing weapons Thursday in the battle for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democratic candidate Rob Quist held a student rally on the University of Montana campus Thursday afternoon, just hours after actress Alyssa Milano held a get-out-the-vote event to support him at the same spot.
The election is being held to replace Ryan Zinke, who was tapped to be Interior Secretary by President Donald Trump. Quist’s main opponent is Republican Greg Gianforte, a businessman who lives in the Bozeman area, and who lost to incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock in November’s gubernatorial election.
Early voting has already started, but the special election is officially being held May 25.
Quist, speaking into a megaphone to a crowd of several dozen students under cloudy skies, said maintaining access to public lands is a top priority for him if he wins.
“I’ve been to probably almost 50 counties in the course of this election, and of course I’ve been on a listening tour because I need to acquaint myself with the issues Montana is facing,” Quist said. “The No. 1 issue I hear is public lands, without a doubt. That’s one that pretty (much) sets us apart from the rest of the country. You know, we value our public lands out here because it’s what makes us special.”
Quist said 29 percent of Montana’s land is wild and open country.
“Many other states around the United States have lost what we still have,” he said. “I’ve traveled these states and I recognize it. You know, people out in Georgia, they have to go for hours at a time just to find a place to recreate. We don’t want that in the state of Montana.
“I think the happiest people I know are people that spend a lot of time out in Mother Nature. If I encounter somebody that’s having a rough day or a little depressed or grouchy, you know, I tell them, ‘Perhaps you should take a walk in the mountains.’ And on a side note, maybe Montana should tell that other guy to go take a hike.”
Quist attended UM, and referenced an old picture in the Montana Kaimin – the student newspaper – that showed him lying against a big rock on the Oval during a break between classes.
“In fact, it was a Montana student who first told me I should run,” Quist said. “I said, ‘Well, what are you talking about? I’m not a politician.’ And he said, ‘Exactly.’”
In the morning, Alyssa Milano – best known for her roles in “Who’s the Boss?,” “Charmed,” and “Melrose Place” – held a small rally and took students to the Missoula County Fairgrounds to vote early. Milano has traveled around the country supporting Democratic candidates this year. She didn’t give a speech but posed for selfies with several college kids.
Several students had to decline Milano’s offer to drive them to vote at 10 a.m., saying they “had to get to class.”
Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the House of Representatives, targeted UM students with a Snapchat geofilter ad that featured the caption “How I Feel About Lyin’ Rob Quist.”
Courtney Alexander, a spokesperson for CLF, said that the ad would allow users to “apply the filter after taking a selfie.”
The CLF has spent about $1.5 million in Montana so far in an effort to defeat Quist. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told the Huffington Post last week that it was going to contribute “six figures” to Quist’s campaign.
This story has been updated to reflect that the Congressional Leadership Fund is a super PAC.