Democrat super PAC Patriot Majority is out with a new ad supporting Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, titled “Charter.” The title comes from Steve Charter, the principle figure in the ad which criticizes Montana Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg. Rehberg is the presumed GOP nominee to face Tester this fall.
The ad, as seen in this screen shot, depicts Steve Charter as a run-of-the-mill rancher. When Charter accuses Rehberg of having “lost touch” with average Montanans, the audience is intended to take his criticisms of Rehberg as if they’re coming from an everyday Montana rancher.
The Patriot Majority ad may also transgress the alleged new tone of civility, by using a stereotype image to suggest that Rep. Rehberg is a wanted criminal.
Steve Charter, it turns out, is not quite the everyday Montanan. Rancher or not, Steve Charter is an environmental activist. He sits on the board of directors of the Northern Plains Resource Council. The NPRC opposes both the XL pipeline and the American coal industry. While the majority of Montanans and Americans have questioned President Obama’s political decision to scuttle the XL, Charter’s NPRC praised the job-killing decision.
Charter also runs another environmental advocacy group, the Bull Mountain Landowners Association, and from that position advocates against coal mining in Montana. According to the National Mining Association, Montana ranks as the nation’s fifth largest coal producer.
There is nothing wrong or illegal about any of Steve Charter’s environmental activities of course. But Patriot Majority’s use of him in the ad attacking Rep. Rehberg does raise a fair question as to who is really out of touch with Montana: The Republican who is advocating for more jobs and more use of domestic energy sources, or the campaign using an environmental activist posing as an average rancher, who is on board with some of the most unpopular aspects of the Obama war on energy.