Aug. 2, 2017 — Republicans have been working to recruit a top-tier challenger to two-term Sen. Jon Tester (D), and yesterday they identified such an individual. Montana Commissioner of Insurance and State Auditor Matt Rosendale announced that he will join the Republican primary, vying to become the party nominee and oppose Sen. Tester in the next election.
Rosendale was first elected to his statewide position just last November, so he is quickly making the move for federal office. Prior to running for auditor, he served a term in the state House of Representatives and a pair of consecutive two-year stints in the state Senate, representing the Glendive area in Montana’s far eastern sector. In the 2015-16 session, Rosendale was the Senate Majority Leader.
In 2016, he ran to succeed Democratic Auditor Monica Lindeen who was ineligible to seek a third term. Rosendale defeated former state Rep. Jesse Laslovich (D), 54-46 percent, from an electorate of more than 486,000 voters.
Republicans may have just dodged a major bullet as former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) announced via telephone interview with local media on Saturday that he is not running for retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) seat.
Polling was showing that the two-term ex-governor, after leaving office early this year, was the strongest candidate from either party who was reasonably considered a potential candidate. The latest Public Policy Polling survey (June 21-23; 807 registered Montana voters) did show Schweitzer trailing former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot by one percentage point, but the chances of the former statewide GOP office holder running to succeed Sen. Baucus are highly remote, so this pairing was discounted. Against all other potential or likely candidates, Schweitzer held a clear advantage.
In the interview explaining his decision not to enter the Senate campaign, the former Montana chief executive said he isn’t a good fit in a legislative body. “I’m a doer,” Schweitzer stated, “I’m used to being in charge of things, getting things done. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is a place where things die.”
Without Schweitzer running, the Republicans now become early favorites to convert the seat. If that became a reality, considering their favorable position for the Democratic open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia, it would bring them halfway to their goal of converting the six seats they need to capture the Senate majority.
A new Public Policy Polling survey previews a tight race evolving in the Montana open-seat race. Those eventually becoming candidates will vie for the right to succeed Sen. Max Baucus (D), who is retiring after what will be 40 years in Congress.
The new data seems to poke holes in the prognostication that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) would run away with the open-seat race should he decide to run. Other potential candidates have been hanging back awaiting his decision, but the former governor humorously quipped last week that it might be some time before he ultimately decides his 2014 plans.
Referring to his occupation as a soil scientist, Schweitzer said to a local news reporter, “…the most important thing a soil scientist has an understanding of is time-glacial time … I look at a mountain and I’m able to visualize how that mountain was created over 6 million years. You’re a journalist. You read time as next week, tomorrow. I think of time geologically. When you see me say ‘soon’ you may be thinking days — but I think of time in millions of years sometimes.” Thus, it appears his answer won’t be coming any time soon.
According to the PPP poll, Schweitzer would actually trail former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot (46-47 percent) even though the Democrat’s favorability index is much higher. Schweitzer scores 54:40 percent favorable to unfavorable, while Racicot only posts 43:37 percent, yet Racicot clings to a small lead.
Considering that Racicot is not likely to run, how does Schweitzer do against a more probable candidate? Paired with at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R), a freshman who ran strong in his first statewide campaign, Continue reading >