Undeclared, but Plenty of Money to Spend

By Beacon Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus continues to rake in large amounts of cash for his re-election campaign next year, heading off formidable Republican opposition so far.

The Montana Democrat raised a total of $7.4 million by Sept. 30, according to campaign finance records released Monday. He raised $1.4 million from July through September and had $5.4 million in the bank at the end of last month.

His fundraising continues to outpace the amount he raised during his last re-election bid. By the end of 2001, the year before Baucus defeated Republican Mike Taylor, Baucus had raised less than $4 million.

This time around, Baucus has the advantage of his party’s majority in the Senate. He became chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee when Democrats took over in January — a position that traditionally draws campaign donations from a wide variety of corporate interests and individuals.

The five-term senator has not announced his intention to run for re-election but is expected to. So far, former Montana House Majority Leader Michael Lange of Billings is the only announced Republican to enter the race.

Lange, made famous by a profanity-laced tirade against Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer that made the rounds on YouTube, has acknowledged facing an uphill fight. He was ousted by his Republican colleagues after the outburst.

Former Montana state lawmaker Bob Keenan, a Republican, has said he is considering a run against Baucus. He has also said he might challenge Schweitzer. Last month, Keenan was in Washington discussing a possible run with Senate Republican leadership.

Neither Keenan nor Lange immediately returned calls Monday.