The money says no.
Turiano doesn’t even have a campaign website anymore. His candidate Facebook page has also been taken down.
So who is this guy…and does he stand a chance?
In 2012, Turiano indicated that he wanted to run for governor but then later switched to the Secretary of State race. He came in last in the 4-way primary, getting 6.7% of the vote (over 8,000 votes) compared to the 55% that Brad Johnson got (over 66,000 votes).
Over 120,000 Republicans voted in that primary. Current political non-equations – Scott Aspenlieder and Patty Lovaas – also ran in that race, getting 23% and 16% of the vote, respectively.
That year Intelligent Discontent called Turiano “a noxious nativist who wants to replace Montana’s income tax with a massive, regressive sales tax,” a candidate that also wanted the US to “withdraw from NATO.”
In 2014, he ran for the U.S. House in the crowded, 5-person primary field that saw Zinke win with 33% of the vote (nearly 44,000 votes). Turiano again came in last, getting 1.7% of the vote (over 2,000 votes).
Current statewide officeholders – Stapleton, Rosendale, and Arntzen – also ran in that race and lost. Over 131,000 Republicans voted in this race.
It was an interesting one, with Turiano putting up ‘Impeach Obama’ billboards around Helena. He also managed to raise nearly $7,000 that year (a committee called Drew Turiano for Congress raised nearly $12,000). That was enough to draw MT Cowgirl attacks, with the site calling him a “white supremacist”
That same year, Media Trackers reported that Turiano supported a new “Operation Wetback” and was worried about future “white genocide” in the country.
Such statements caused the Montana Tea Party Coalition to state that they “strongly disagree with his views.” The Montana GOP also disavowed him. That year the Yellowstone County GOP wouldn’t allow Turiano to “spread hate and intolerance” at their Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner.
In 2016, Turiano ran for SD 40 in Helena. This time he came in second, with 25% of the vote (760 votes). Terry Gauthier won it with 68% of the vote (over 2,000 votes).
That fall, Gauthier beat out Democrat Hal Jacobson, 53% to 47%, to win the race. Nearly 12,000 voted in that race.
In 2017, Turiano threw his hat into the ring for the U.S. House Special Election, but was not chosen in the GOP nominating convention.
Now it’s 2018 and Turiano is again running for office…the same he’s done in every election for the past 5 years.
Does he have a chance?
Again, the money.
We don’t know what Turiano has raised, and we probably won’t until early-February when the first campaign finance reports come out. Still, we know that Turiano won’t need to file a report unless he’s raised $50,000 or more…something I don’t think will happen. Look at his history.
In 2014 Turiano only raised upwards of $12,000…compared to the nearly $5 million that Zinke raised; the nearlyl $2 million that John Lewis raised; and the $1 million that Rosendale took in.
The 43-year-old Turiano works as a real estate investor in Helena, but I guess that job doesn’t have a lot of fundraising potential for him.
He hasn’t been in Montana that long, however…just since 2006. He was born in New York.
When he first moved here that year, he went to work as communications director for Michael Lange’s campaign to unseat Max Baucus from the U.S. Senate. In the 6-way primary race that year, Lange came in second with 23% of the vote (17,000 votes) to Bob Kelleher’s 36% (27,000 votes).
Despite that showing, Turiano wasn’t able to gain a lot of political traction in the state. He’d actually wait another 4 years to run for office himself…and not the stepping-stone legislative races, but right into the statewide mix.
Gianforte did that in 2016 and he wasn’t able to pull it off. More, in the gubernatorial GOP primary that year, Gianforte actually saw his primary opponent get nearly 34,000 votes, or 23.6%.
Even before Gianforte broke the law and lied about it, nearly a quarter of GOP voters didn’t want him representing them as governor.
Have GOP voters warmed more to Gianforte since then? You’d think so, as they voted him into Congress in 2017. Still…many had voted before the assault incident.
Is the assault incident enough to push Turiano over the top in the primary this year? I don’t think so.
Turiano has ideas that are even ‘more out there’ than Gianforte’s. The media has reported on this for years. Besides that, Turiano will raise a few thousand dollars while Gianforte will raise millions.
Mostly, in this day and age of political corruption via money in politics, you don’t have to look much further than the money.
I can see Turiano getting 25% to 30% of the primary vote against Gianforte this year, but I don’t see him doing much better…and I don’t see him using this race to catapult him into another office in 2020 (such as SoS when/if Rosendale moves on, or maybe Tim Fox’s spot).
I just don’t see Gianforte losing the primary, and I don’t really see him losing the general. Gianforte has more money, and a lot more name-recognition than any of the Dems. On top of it, there’s nothing to really get excited about when it comes to the Dems running against Gianforte.
A lot of things could happen this year, though. If the economy begins to slip in May and October, the GOP will suffer and Dems will profit from this.
That’s kind of the thing…Dems will win not because of their ideas, but because the other Party or the economy isn’t doing that well. It’s not really a merit-based win, but a win because the other guy is so bad.
While a ‘dearth-of-ideas’ approach like that might work in the short-term, I don’t see it as a long-term strategy for success.