However, Morrison has come under criticism for how his office handled a securities fraud case against a Flathead Valley businessman, David Tacke, who later married a woman with whom Morrison had an extramarital affair before his election as auditor. Morrison insists his office handled the case properly. [...]Morrison blew his chance when he decided to put politics over ethics. In fact, it looks like the
"Ethics is going to be a huge issue," said Craig Wilson, a political science professor at Montana State University-Billings and longtime observer of state politics. "The fate of the Burns campaign could rest on what, if anything, comes out of the Justice Department. If there are any indictments of Burns' staff, it could hurt real bad, but if there's nothing new in a couple of months, that could be old news and be less harmful."
On the Democratic side, Wilson said ethics remains an issue with Morrison.
"The ethics issue is going to play less well for Morrison against Burns than for Tester," Wilson said. "Tester is much better placed than Morrison."
GOP wants Morrison because they know he would be easily stomped:How are things looking for Tuesday?
Wilson wondered about the possibility of some Republicans crossing over and grabbing a Democratic ticket on Tuesday to vote for Morrison.
"People love to talk about it (cross-over voting) but it's hard to figure out," he said.
Tester started out as the underdog but has gained momentum in recent weeks by saying he's the only Democrat who can stand up to Burns on the ethics issue. That's Tester's code language for saying Morrison can't challenge Burns on ethics because of his affair and how his office handled the Tacke case. [...]Morrison is unethical which will prevent him from beating Burns.
"I think it's going pretty darned well," Tester said. "We've got momentum. It's definitely swung our way. We don't have the money of our opponent, but we certainly have the grass-roots."
He was buoyed that some former Morrison backers, including ex-U.S. Sen. John Melcher, now endorse him and that Richards urged his supporters to vote for Tester.
"Folks understand that ethics is going to play a big part in the race," Tester said. "The biggest decision is who can beat Conrad Burns in the fall. I hear about this on a daily basis. They want honesty from their elected officials. Folks think I'm the most electable person that can come out of this primary."