Rove Super PAC Goes After Montana's Walsh

Image: Rove Super PAC Goes After Montana's Walsh Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, right, remarks on his appointment to the U.S. Senate on Feb. 7 by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, left.

Monday, 10 Feb 2014 11:39 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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American Crossroads, the GOP super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, is extending the welcome mat to Montana's next U.S. senator, who will be sworn in Tuesday, with an attack ad, the National Journal reports.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock last week appointed former Lt. Gov. John Walsh to become the state's junior U.S. senator, serving the final year of Sen. Max Baucus' term. Baucus resigned Thursday night to become the U.S. ambassador to China.

Walsh is challenging former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger in the June 3 Democratic primary. According to Helena's Independent Record, prior to his appointment, Walsh was the underdog in the general election against GOP Rep. Steve Daines. The race is being closely watched as it could be a tipping point in Republicans' attempts to regain control of the Senate.

On its website, American Crossroads says that "virtually all Democrat incumbents in red states and purple states are in trouble – either down or tied in head-to-head contests with their likely GOP opponents, or upside down in approval ratings."

The site cites eight Harper polls, including one in Montana showing Daines leading Walsh by 14 points.

The Independent Record notes that Walsh's appointment was controversial, even within Democratic circles. For weeks, Gov. Bullock dodged questions about the process he planned to use to fill the Senate seat.

Democratic senatorial candidate Dirk Adams "blasted Walsh's appointment as 'political cronyism," while State Republican Chairman Will Deschamps portrayed it as "a backroom deal.

"Gov. Bullock has sent Montanans a clear message that he would rather take marching orders from Barack Obama and Harry Reid than listen to the people of Montana," Deschamps said.

The Montana newspaper reported that Walsh, a decades-long Army reservist, was reprimanded in 2010 for using his position as adjutant general to coerce Montana National Guard troops to join the National Guard Association of the United States as a way to increase Montana's membership numbers and thus help him gain a leadership post in that organization. The reprimand blocked his promotion to the rank of general, according to the newspaper.

Crossroads reported to the Federal Election Commission that it has spent $138,000 on the television ad, which will begin airing next week. The spot will be American Crossroads' first in a Senate race this cycle, according to The National Journal.

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