Montana Libertarian candidate walks back endorsement of GOP nominee Rosendale in tight Senate race

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Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge has backed away from his previous endorsement of Republican nominee Matt Rosendale just a day before Montanans are set to go the polls to vote in the state’s Senate race.

Breckenridge told Fox News that while he did use the word “endorse” in phone call with reporters last week, his “endorsement” was only on the issue of dark money. The Libertarian said he was angry about a campaign mailer urging voters to support the Libertarian candidate because Rosendale would bring more government surveillance if elected in November.

The funder of the mailer is unknown and it is a violation of federal campaign finance and election law not to attach a name to a mailer.

Breckenridge called the mailer “lies” and said that when it comes to dark money, he believes Rosendale is better than incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

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The Libertarian candidate added that he is not dropping out of the race, despite previous assertions that he was, and outlined a number of key stances where he and Rosendale differ, including the Republican’s support of President Trump’s border wall and tariffs on foreign goods.

“How can I endorse someone I’m that far apart from?” Breckenridge said.

Breckenridge’s comments on Monday stand in stark contrast to his words during last Wednesday’s conference call with reporters.

“I’m standing in unity and solidarity with Matt to combat dark money in Montana politics. I’m here to stand and say, with my 3 and 4 percent polling numbers, honestly I’m not going to take the seat,” Breckenridge said on the press call with Rosendale. "I am here today to support Matt and his candidacy. And endorse him in his continuing effort to be the front man in the cause of liberty.”

The Montana Libertarian Party quickly disavowed Breckenridge’s endorsement last week.

“The Montana Libertarian Party continues to fully support and endorse Libertarian Rick Breckenridge for Senate,” the party said in a statement. “We believe he is still Montana's best choice of the current candidates because he is a champion of freedom and limiting government while embracing cooperation and rational decision-making. He is neither a Trump acolyte like his Republican opponent, nor a promoter of fear and divisiveness to manipulate voters like his Democrat opponent.”

A recent HarrisX poll shows Tester holding a six point lead over Rosendale in a state President Trump handily won by 20 points in 2016. The president and other prominent Republicans have been barnstorming Montana in recent weeks in the hopes of flipping Tester’s seat in the Senate to Rosendale.