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National Rifle Association Spends Big Money In Tight Montana Race

A 'March For Our Guns' Rally in Helena, Montana.
A 'March For Our Guns' Rally in Helena, Montana.

The National Rifle Association has spent nearly $3 million so far in the 2018 election cycle. A big chunk of that change is centered on a race right here in the Mountain West.

The powerful gun lobby has spent around $400,000 running ads against Montana’s vulnerable U.S. Democratic Senator Jon Tester.

It’s the most money the NRA has spent against any candidate in the region this year.

But Montana State University political scientist David Parker said the gun lobby’s power isn’t necessarily in its spending.

“They’re powerful if only because their supporters are so intensely motivated," he said.

He said many second amendment supporters are single issue voters and guns are an important part of the culture in Montana.

“A lot of people hunt here in the state," Parker said. "A lot of people go out there and they don’t come into conflict with guns in quite the same way that people do in urban areas.”

Despite their strong support, the NRA isn’t always successful.

Last year they spent around $1 million endorsing their pick in Alabama’s special election. The campaign to reelect Republican Luther Strange failed.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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