As I mentioned on Voices of Montana Tuesday morning, a GOP operative with ties to the Daines camp tells me that newcomer Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) will be announcing a run for the US Senate on Wednesday. “Steve will be announcing a bid for U.S. Senate tomorrow. He has received a lot of support and feedback from Montanans and they have urged him that this is the right thing to do.”
That same operative also shared with me internal polling that shows Daines leading potential Democratic candidates John Walsh 44-27%, and John Bohlinger 42-33%. Of particular interest is the fact that Bohlinger looks stronger than Walsh in a potential match up with Daines. That said, Daines starts the race with a significant lead over both.
The Washington Post added this:
Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, confirmed that Daines will run, as was widely expected. Daines previously scheduled a “special event” for Wednesday in Bozeman, Mont., and has been staffing up for a run at the upper chamber.
“Montana, tomorrow, Steve Daines is going to get in the race, and he’s an impressive guy,” Collins told reporters Tuesday morning. “In a year where we lost the governor’s race and the Senate race (in 2012), he won by a healthy margin.”
Granted, the internal Republican polling I quoted above occurred in August, prior to the government shutdown. However, contrary to the state’s two Democratic US Senators, Daines’ office kept working during the shutdown. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Walsh (D-MT) simply appeared to follow the Obama Administration line when it came to the Administration’s denial of death benefits for fallen service members.
Daines addressed that very issue in a recent interview with Roll Call:
Q. What’s the big takeaway for you personally from the government shutdown and how did it affect your rumored Senate bid announcement that was supposed to take place in early October?
A. It was never the desire of anybody to see that [shutdown] happen. We kept our team focused on serving the people that we were elected to serve. We kept a skeleton crew going, working back in Montana to tell Montanans what’s going on. I have $1.1 million in cash on hand and we will announce it soon.
The outreach could pay dividends for Daines should he make his expected bid for the Senate. Native Americans make up nearly 8 percent of Montana’s population and traditionally have voted heavily for Democrats, at times providing their margins of victory.
“The political landscape for the Senate race is very difficult in 2014 for the Democratic candidate, especially with regard to the Native vote,” said one Montana-based Democratic strategist.
“You have a Republican candidate who has read the Native vote playbook that Denny Rehberg never read.”
Now that it seems clear that Daines is running for the US Senate, that leaves a wide open US House race in Montana.
Democratic dark money groups and liberal bloggers are now aiming their guns at former State Senator Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish), a former commander at SEAL Team 6.
As the AP reports, Zinke recently stepped down as the head of a Special Operations PAC that took aim at President Obama during the 2012 election.
Special Operations for America has stockpiled more than $200,000 for the 2014 election cycle, thanks in part to the fundraising it paid Zinke to do.
Special Operations for America originally was launched to assist Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, but then turned its attention to lower-ticket races.
Zinke ran the PAC, but he said he stepped down at the end of September before announcing his candidacy in late October.
Left wing blogger Don Pogreba was really hoping this story would be picked up by the media after liberal mag “Mother Jones” ran their hit piece on Zinke. (Wasn’t Mother Jones under investigation by the FBI?)
You may recall Mother Jones also tried to attack Semitool founder Ray Thompson during the 2012 elections. Here’s a link to my, “let me tell you about Ray Thompson” post.
I don’t think “Mother Jones” realized who they were talking about when they decided to launch an attack on Thompson. You see, Ray Thompson is one of those kinds of guys that we need more of in America. When Ray realized that a number of his employees were facing the dangerous drive between Libby, MT and Kalispell every day to show up for work- he didn’t say “deal with it.” He opened up a shop in Libby so the workers didn’t have to commute.
On the Democratic side, I would expect at least one more prominent Democrat to announce fairly soon. As for now, career staffer to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), John Lewis, is the only Democrat in the race.
He was recently interviewed by Roll Call, here’s the video:
Here’s what else is interesting, the candidate’s team:
Aaron Murphy (communications director), Barrett Kaiser (manager), Bob Funk (deputy manager), Geoff Garin of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group (pollster), Mattis Goldman of Three Point Media (media), Colleen Martin (finance director).
The first three mentioned all coordinated the dark money ads in support of the Libertarian candidate (or worked on the Senator’s campaign) in the 2012 US Senate race in Montana, helping to propel Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to victory. Funk is also the dark money anonymous blogger behind the “MT Streetfighter” blog. Beyond being just a disconnected 3rd party, dark money attack group- they now formally represent the campaigns of John Lewis for House, and John Walsh for Senate.
State Senator Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) is also actively hitting the campaign trail on the Republican side. ICYMI- here’s his announcement video: