Can’t win if you don’t run: Montana Democrats look to contest more local races

Democrats in rural Montana are striving to contest more local races to rebuild the party’s competitive bench and narrow down the typically wide margins favoring Republicans.

Driving the news: The Stillwater County Democratic Central Committee, which has experienced a resurgence of political activity, organized an event attended by 50 Democrats in August.
* Democratic activity in the county was reignited when Tommy Flanagan, a political organizer who co-chairs the committee, ran as a candidate in last year’s state House of Representatives race.

Political landscape: Although the Republicans dominate Stillwater County, with former President Donald Trump winning the county by 78% in 2020, Democrats are pushing against the trend.
* Democrats are seeking to challenge GOP margins by running candidates in all races, even in heavily Republican territories where winning feels improbable.
* In Montana’s last electoral cycle, Democrats left 37 of 150 legislative seats uncontested, the highest number of uncontested races in the state in a decade.

Broader implications: High numbers of uncontested races in rural areas are a concern for Democrats, extending beyond Montana.
* In Louisiana, for example, there are 77 unopposed candidates this election cycle, the majority belonging to Republicans.
* Similarly, in North Carolina last year, Democrats did not field a candidate in 44 of the 170 state legislature races.

Efforts to contest every race: There is out-of-state support coming from Contest Every Race, a national campaign dedicated to backing Democrats in local elections.
* The organization plans to spend $10 million on rural Democratic organizing efforts this cycle, aiming to challenge the estimated 100,000 Republican candidates who go unchallenged annually.

View original article on NPR

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