Lange Hopes to Win Over Naysayers

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Brushing off criticism from a fellow Republican, U.S. Senate candidate Michael Lange says he hopes eventually to convert state Sen. John Brueggeman, R-Polson, into a supporter.

Lange, a state representative from Billings, was responding to harsh comments by Brueggeman, who said Tuesday he will vote for Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus in November 2008 if Lange is the Republican nominee.

Brueggeman told the Lee Newspapers that Lange lacks “the steady hand, the stability, to be a statewide candidate” and doesn’t have “the faculties to serve in a statewide capacity.”

In a subsequent Lee story published Thursday, Lange brushed off the criticism, saying, “The campaign has a long, long way to go. We hope we can get him to vote for me.”

Lange said he has always gotten along well with Brueggeman in the Legislature.

“John’s a very energetic legislator,” Lange said. “He’s worked hard for his district. It’s like everything else. I’ve got to work to earn everyone’s vote. I guess we’ll see how that goes.”

Lange said he’s had “a great response, so far” as he’s campaigned in a number of Montana cities and towns. He said people have definitely heard about him and want to get to know him better and size him up.

“My name ID (identification) is really good,” the Billings pipefitter said. “I think what Montanans want is someone who can be a champion for them on issues and get out and fight for them.”

Lange became known around the state near the end of the 2007 Legislature after he gave a profanity-filled speech at a Republican caucus attacking Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer. His comments were recorded by a Helena television reporter and ran statewide and nationally _ and turned up on the Internet site YouTube.com.

He later apologized to Schweitzer. Lange said the episode showed he is human and that he needs to keep his temper in check.

A couple of weeks later, at the conclusion of the special legislative session in May, House Republicans ousted Lange as the House majority leader.