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Libertarian acted as spoiler in Senate race, GOP says

2012-11-08T08:34:00Z 2012-11-10T13:38:35Z Libertarian acted as spoiler in Senate race, GOP saysBy PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic Helena Independent Record
November 08, 2012 8:34 am  • 

U.S. Senate Libertarian candidate Dan Cox will tell you that it was never his intention to be a spoiler in one of the most closely watched races in the nation.

He equally disliked both of his opponents’ records.

But the nearly 30,000 votes Cox garnered in Tuesday’s general election were 10,000 more than the difference between Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and his Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

Montana Republican Party officials say those votes were the difference in the election, and they are challenging some last-minute advertisements.

Cox’s candidacy was bolstered by a flurry of expensive television and print advertisements paid for by a hunters-and-anglers group sympathetic to Tester.

Cox, a Hamilton man who owns an Internet fishing equipment business, said the advertisements took him by surprise.

“I was totally unaware of any of that,” Cox said. “It did open my eyes to the fact that a lot of political advertisements were not authorized by any candidate. PACs, to some degree, are running the elections.”

“I liked the content of the ads,” he added. “I just had no idea of who funded the ads or who was behind it.”

Cox said Wednesday that he raised about $3,000 in the race.

According to an Oct. 26 financial report, the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund spent $498,400 in television advertisements, $39,500 in web advertising and $146,400 in mailing costs in political ads against Rehberg.

In the final weeks of the race, at least five full-color, glossy mailers promoting Cox were sent to voters against Rehberg.

One had a disclaimer saying the hunters-and-anglers group paid for the mailing, as is required by law. Four of the flyers had no disclaimers, but all have the same Las Vegas mailing permit.

The Montana Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last week, saying the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund, the Montana Conservation Voters and the League of Conservation Voters engaged in a strategy to siphon votes away from Rehberg and failed to use a disclaimer on the mailings.

The treasurer of the hunters-and-anglers organization, Joe Splinter, did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Montana Republican Party chairman Will Deschamps said he was certain the advertisements made a difference in the late stages of the race.

“These Libertarian candidates run as spoilers,” Deschamps said. “They don’t care to win. They know they can’t win. … Politics is a blood sport. You deal with what you get.”

From Cox’s point of view, Tuesday’s election showed that people are growing tired of the two-party system that offers candidates who don’t abide by the U.S. Constitution.

The nearly 30,000 votes he garnered were more than three times the votes the last Libertarian Senate candidate had six years ago, he said. He’s been told the vote count is the highest since the 1930s for a third-party candidate for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

“It looks to me like liberty is rising,” he said. “The Republicans can’t win without liberty voters. For some reason, they are working to throw the Constitution out of their own party and they think they can get away with it.

“If Republicans want to get back to winning, they need to start running candidates who follow the Constitution.”

The Libertarian platform supports issues that are attractive to conservatives and liberals, he said.

“I think it’s hard to say that I was a spoiler for Republicans,” he said. “We receive a lot of support from people on the other side who don’t want to be in undeclared wars or like the idea of medical marijuana.

“I think it’s hard to judge what percentage of my vote comes from whom."

David Merrick, chairman of the Ravalli County Libertarian Party, said Cox’s relative success in the election has helped spread the party’s message.

“We don’t look at entering a race to be a spoiler,” Merrick said. “We look at it as an avenue to try to get our message out there. Elections are a good time to get that message out.”

It appears to be working.

“We’re already getting calls from people interested in the next election,” Merrick said. “We’ll take a little breather and then get ready to gear up. We’ll see who wants to put their neck under the guillotine this next time around.”

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - November 13, 2012 11:56 am
    Although I self-identify liberal (thank you, Captain Obvious) I truly do have a lot of Libertarian beliefs, particularly when it comes to the failed drug war. I suspect that Mr. Cox received votes from people who might otherwise have voted for Tester, not just Rehberg.
  2. Grizmayor
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    Grizmayor - November 09, 2012 1:12 pm
    Amen. Matter of fact, 90% of Montanans are conservative Republican in comparison with the liberal tax-sucking plantation owners on the East and West coasts. But their Pet Project Parasite Party politics and jealousy of success ruins our state. No wonder we're in the bottom 10 of business climates in this country. I love the brainiacs who declare the supremcy of Socialism in the US of A... However, they seem to forget... The 50% of Americans who vote for freedom over free things can live without the Democratic liberal party... In turn, the tax-sucking takers of Democratic Pary would wither and die with out money. Facts are facts. So sad.
  3. abodox33
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    abodox33 - November 09, 2012 11:56 am
    I second dese1ect's comments. Given the choice of jumping off a 100 ft bridge head first or feet first, I would rather choose not jump and wait until the bridge falls down. I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils when there is a candidate that my views allign with. I am tired of the "throw away vote" theory that has been shoved in people faces by the fear based media. Voting for someone who you do not believe in is throwing away your vote in my opinion.
  4. Riamh
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    Riamh - November 08, 2012 10:19 pm
    You know steeline, an awful lot of those "takers: you whine about work and pay their taxes. In fact, they have to work 2-3 jobs because few of these outfits around town are willing to pay a liveable wage. (even the state!) I guess I am finding it both comical, and disturbing how whacky your posts are getting.. keep it up? at least you make me laugh sometimes.
  5. Riamh
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    Riamh - November 08, 2012 10:14 pm
    I am just glad they were as blatantly sleazy about it as they were. If not for that, a lot more people might have voted against their own interests.
  6. dese1ect
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    dese1ect - November 08, 2012 8:29 pm
    I like how people assume Libertarians are just Republicans in disguise and would vote Republican blindly. Libertarians are fiscal conservatives and socially liberal, which by judging the Ryan budget, the Bush administration, and the current House, the Republicans are not. You know the difference between the Obama budget and the House recommendation this year? $3.8 trillion and $3.5 trillion. Even worse, the deficit difference is even narrower at $1.1 trillion vs $1 trillion. Great conservatism there. On the social side of things, Libertarians support a lack of government intervention in people's lives and choices, including social contracts such as marriage and drug use. So as a Libertarian I am supposed to vote for someone who is going to keep spending our nation into oblivion and doesn't align with my social view of small government?
  7. steeline
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    steeline - November 08, 2012 6:42 pm
    Cut to the core of the election. It is a simple concept. The takers out voted the makers. Obama has provided so well for the 49% on the dole that he bought the election with the workers,(makers) money. Lets keep our eye on the ball. There will be a day when "old mother hubbard will go to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone, the cupboard will be bare and the dog will have to go out get a job and find his own bone,. something like that. Obama has emptied the cupboard and now yall are going to get a tax increase and the takers will get some cuts in the "free stuff". Oh happy days. We will get America back, whats left of it anyway.
  8. Riamh
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    Riamh - November 08, 2012 4:34 pm
    MMM, I note you have an extremely skewed understanding of the political spectrum in addition to your very sour grapes. This is indicated by your assignment of left/right to social positions.

    The Political Spectrum is comprised of 2 scales.. ECONOMIC being left/right, while up/down represents the social SOCIAL positions of Libertarian,and Authoritarian.

    While it is true the Libertarian party is socially very liberal (perhaps because they believe in the American ideals of freedom and liberty, something NEITHER the republican or democrat believe in anymore, both are almost full to the top authoritarian in their positions. (almost as authoritarian as 1930s Germany, OR the USSR of old, rather scary don't you think?)

    On the other hand, to correct your two dimensional thinking Most libertarian candidates are FULL right on on economic issues. Most believe in total social d a r w in ism social safety net, and no regulations on the finance/big money interests. In fact, Economically, they represent the same values you have espoused here time and time again.

    You can whine, and lay the blame wherever you see fit, that is your right, after all, however when it comes to why republicans lost most elections this year is due to the fact that the majority of Americans don't buy their absurd talking points, and most Americans do not believe in legislating morality on the masses the way your party does.

  9. jlarsen
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    jlarsen - November 08, 2012 2:22 pm
    How true, colin. Thanks for pointing out the irony. The right should be thrilled that their support of corporate electioneering paid off... albeit for their opponents.
  10. skooter
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    skooter - November 08, 2012 1:53 pm
    Call when you tell me about how your repudiation of ATP dirty money with ads showing Bullock's picture in sex offender lineup...and just because republicans generally seem to believe in a this-for-that world let's just remember that the republicans (the RLC) ran pro nader ads in 2000 to help play spoiler in the same way against Gore.

    I'm not excusing it...if I had my way we'd have total campaign reform with mandatory public financing with strict limits designed to let citizen influences our elections by their support not sleazy groups like ATP & Crossroads
  11. AntiXenophobia
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    AntiXenophobia - November 08, 2012 1:41 pm
    You need to open your eyes. The reason Cox got as much support as he did is because both political parties "play dirty", which means they both lie.

    You think it is fine that Rehberg ran a campaign with ads claiming Tester and Obama voted together 95% of the time? That is complete nonsense -- Obama does not have a vote in the Senate, so how could he vote with Obama 95% of the time? Rehberg ran a campaing talking about small government, but the republicans have been talking about small government since I was a kid, and no republican administration has made government smaller in my lifetime. Sure, republicans will shrink EPA or shrink the park service, then they turn around and spend all the saved money on TSA or border patrol. Republicans have overspent since 1980, and they still try to claim that they are fiscally responsible.

    Democrats lie just as much, but since you are obviously loyal to the republicans, I focus on their lies. The democrats love to talk about how they support low income folks, yet they are completely aligned with our "free market" principals which insure that the unemployment index keeps 6-8 million people unemployed to hold wages down. How can they claim to support poor folks when they are dedicated to a system that insures that we will always have millions of unemployed?

    Both parties lie a lot, and most voters are too uninformed to even notice. That is why people like Cox or Nader need to keep running, so those of us with a conscience have someone to support who tries to speak the truth. Cox is the only person running in this race that isn't dirty, and I am one "liberal" (who is offended by democrats and republicans both) who voted for Cox. And do you really think that Rehberg is not dirty? Really?
  12. colin
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    colin - November 08, 2012 1:29 pm
    It's more than a little ironic that the candidate who was endorsed by and supported citizens united to change our elections laws is no whining about groups that used those laws to help defeat him. Tough luck Denny
  13. jlarsen
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    jlarsen - November 08, 2012 1:20 pm
    MtMadeMan: What you say may in fact be true, however, skooter's assertion is also correct.

    The the "anti-Republican shills" behind the dirty politics weren't the ones voting for the libertarian candidate, regardless of the commercials they funded. It was fringe members of the right that let their deeper hatred of government get the better of them. They are responsible for Hill's loss.

    It is the fracturing within the republican party that lead to Hill losing this race, Republicans have no one but themselves to blame.
  14. peapj4mt
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    peapj4mt - November 08, 2012 11:54 am
    Seems to me the Republicans are poor losers and need some excuse to justify their loss. Libertarians come from both parties and the Independents, and the vote for Dan Cox may reflect is a genuine disapproval of the politics in American and Montana today.
  15. Curmudgeon
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    Curmudgeon - November 08, 2012 11:22 am
    Yeah, Will Deschamps, those grapes sure are sour, aren't they!
  16. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - November 08, 2012 11:21 am
    Reminiscient of Nader in 2000, resulting in George W. Bush's election. How delightful to see the GOP get a taste of this, and how excellent that Rehberg goes home and Tester represents us for six more years in the Senate.
  17. MtMadeMan
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    MtMadeMan - November 08, 2012 11:18 am
    The libertarians are no more the fringer part of the right then their liberal social views make them part of the fringer part of the left.

    But the groups that ran the political adds supporting the libertarian are anti-Republican shills hiding their extremist liberalism playing dirty politics in splitting the conservative vote to let extremist liberals win. They were not trying to elect the libertarian they were liberals in hiding behind nice sounding names pushing their extremist agenda.

    Same old dirty politics from progressives.

  18. skooter
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    skooter - November 08, 2012 9:19 am
    Truly funny and a bit ironic. The fringier parts of the right are ruining the party itself...and keeping them out of office too. Romney might have gotten some traction if he didn't have to talk out of oneside of his mouth on every issue to the fringers/birthers/tinfoilers/birchers/etc and then to the mainstream say completely different things.

    And then it cost them dearly in these races.

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