Democrat Sen. Jon Tester is one of several vulnerable Democrats in a red state won by President Donald Trump that has been targeted for replacement by a Republican in the 2018 midterm elections.
But Tester’s re-election bid just received a solid boost from a district judge in Helena, Montana who ruled to invalidate a number of signatures submitted by the state’s Green Party, a move that will remove the far-left party and its candidate from the state’s ballot in the November election.
According to The Hill, Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds declared a number of signatures gathered and submitted by Green Party backers to be invalid due to those signatures either not matching signatures already on record, not matching registered voters or being gathered in an improper manner.
The invalidation of those signatures dropped the Green Party below the threshold of 5,000 valid signatures from registered voters in at least 34 of Montana’s 100 state House districts that are required to appear on the state-wide ballot.
The state’s Democrat Party had sued to block the Green Party from being on the ballot, and suggested that a Republican consulting firm from Nevada was behind a signature-gathering effort that saw the Green party submit more than 7,000 signatures on the final day.
The judge’s ruling was celebrated by Nancy Keenan, head of the Montana Democratic Party, who called the decision a win “against the tactics of out-of-state Republican dark money groups that are blatantly trying to interfere in Montana’s democracy.”
The judge’s ruling means that artist and gallery owner Steve Kelly will not appear as a choice for the Senate for Montanans in November, a move that will certainly assist Tester as Green Party candidates tend to pull left-leaning voters away from Democrats in much the same way that Libertarian candidates tend to pull support away from Republican candidates.
Indeed, Tester’s allies were accused of providing significant financial backing to a Libertarian candidate named Dan Cox in the 2012 election that saw Cox pull in 32,000 votes while Tester beat his Republican challenger Danny Rehberg by a margin of only 18,000 votes.
“The Montana Democratic Party’s deep pocketed effort to suppress the vote in Montana has, for the moment, succeeded,” stated Green Party spokeswoman Danielle Breck. “The (Montana Green Party), however, understands that it is not only our right, but also our duty, as citizens to do everything we can to stand up against such efforts.”
Interestingly, while the Green Party candidate won’t be on the ballot — and thus won’t be siphoning away leftist votes from Tester — a Libertarian candidate will remain on the ballot in November who will potentially siphon right-leaning votes away from Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who has the backing of President Trump in his challenge against Tester.
If there truly were issues regarding the validity of the signatures gathered by Green party backers, then the judge’s ruling was proper and it is a mere coincidence that the ruling will have a positive effect on Tester’s re-election chances.
But pure coincidences are rare in politics, and this whole affair reeks of a deliberate effort to aid Tester’s re-election bid by removing from the ballot a third-party candidate that would undoubtedly draw away some of Tester’s supporters in an exceptionally close race that is a must-win for Democrats.