Lawyers, farmers, ranchers, doctors, artists, and influential Democrats gave more than $122,000 to underdog Democratic challenger Jim Hunt, helping him out-raise incumbent Republican Congressman Dennis Rehberg in their first quarter of fundraising.
Not surprisingly, Democrats say the speedy influx of cash, including more than 400 individual contributions, shows Hunt has the support he needs and deserves.
“Throughout his career, as a security guard, a firefighter, a logger, 23 years in the Montana National Guard, and as a lawyer, he’s developed a diverse pool of people who want to help his campaign,” says Kevin O’Brien, communications director for the Montana Democratic Party.
Adds Hunt: “I’ve represented a wide variety of people—farmers, ranchers, workers, small businesses, a lot of different people.”
Also not surprisingly, the state Republican Party has begun flinging rhetorical mud about the money, saying—in so many well-chosenwords—that Hunt’s fundraising numbers prove he’s supported by overpaid ambulance chasers like himself.
“Hunt collected over $40,000 from trial lawyers. Fifty nine of his donors were trial lawyers,” says Chris Carter, communications director for the Montana Republican Party.
Political observers say the GOP attack, as was its goal, has put Hunt on the defensive to explain the obvious: that lawyers running for office can and will get money from other lawyers.
“I made calls to a variety of people,” as Hunt explains. “I didn’t distinguish between groups, including lawyers.”
With the GOP throwing rocks and the Democrats saddling-up with cash, Hunt may well have the race he’s been clamoring for.