Montana’s Libertarian candidate for Senate is throwing in the towel, endorsing GOP candidate Matt Rosendale (R) in a move that could help him as he looks to close in on Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in the next week.
Rick Breckenridge (L) announced his decision in a joint conference call with Rosendale, saying he was angry about a third-party mail piece that attacked Rosendale and pushed voters to back him instead.
His move could prove problematic for Tester as he looks to hang on for a third term.
Montana has a large libertarian-leaning population, and in both of Tester’s past statewide wins his margin of victory was smaller than the share of the vote won by the Libertarian Party candidate. In 2006 he won by one point as the Libertarian won 2.5 percent of the vote, and in 2012 he won by four as the Libertarian won 6.5 percent of the vote.
Tester has seen his lead in the race shrink in the closing weeks of the campaign. Privately, Democrats think he’s up by a few points, while Republicans see a tied race.
Democrats had privately worried for months that Breckenridge might make this move. Rosendale has a libertarian streak himself and has strong backing from people like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Breckenridge and Rosendale were known to have a friendly relationship.
His move may be a bit too late to make a big difference, however: Many Montanans have already cast their votes by mail, and his name will remain on the ballot.