- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Here is a look at the week’s most interesting and important developments in Montana’s election campaigns.

SENATE, HOUSE CANDIDATES DEBATE IN BUTTE:

The Montana Newspaper Association and Montana PBS are sponsoring the first U.S. Senate and U. S. House of Representatives candidate debates in Butte on Saturday.

The debates will be held in the Library Auditorium at Montana Tech. The U. S. Senate debate will begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by the U. S. House debate at 3:30 p.m.


Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. John Walsh is seeking to retain the seat he was appointed to against Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Daines and Libertarian candidate Roger Roots.

Republican former state Sen. Ryan Zinke faces Democratic former Baucus aide John Lewis and Libertarian Mike Fellows in the Nov. 4 election for Montana’s lone House seat being vacated by Daines.

The debates, which are free to the public, are the only ones in either race that have been scheduled so far.

DAINES, WALSH ADDRESS VA PROBLEMS:

Daines and Walsh each responded strongly to a new audit released this week detailing long wait times for patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the nation, including an average 48-day wait for a first appointment at the VA medical center at Fort Harrison.

Walsh joined a group of senators calling for a criminal investigation. Daines’ campaign touted the congressman’s co-sponsorship of the Veterans Access to Care Act, which is designed to make it easier for veterans to see non-VA doctors.

The measure passed the House unanimously Tuesday.

Walsh voted for legislation that passed the Senate Wednesday to authorize $35 billion over three years to pay for outside care for veterans.

DAINES AIRS AD ATTACKING WALSH’S RECORD:

Daines’ campaign has released an ad alleging Walsh mismanaged taxpayer dollars, used government resources for personal gain and demonstrated questionable ethics as Montana’s adjutant general.

The ad, “Personal Gain,” says the U.S. Army formally reprimanded Walsh for improperly using government resources and as a result, the Army “questioned Walsh’s ability to lead.”

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