HELENA (AP) – U.S. Senate candidate Michael Lange told fellow Republicans here Tuesday that he is not “black and blue,” just a “battle-hardened” politician with some unconventionally gained name recognition.
The man behind one of the state’s most notorious legislative blowups promised to fight – incumbent U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, the entire Congress if elected and any country that gets in the way of the United States.
Lange, speaking to a gathering of two dozen or so Republicans at a local meeting, told them he can beat Baucus and doesn’t need much money to do so. He said he can win based on his integrity, his experience as the former state House majority leader and on the issues.
Lange made headlines around the state for cursing at Gov. Brian Schweitzer toward the end of a contentious legislative session earlier this year. He was soon replaced as majority leader during a contested vote in the Republican caucus, with detractors grumbling about the blowup and other issues.
Lange, who has raised little money compared to the millions Baucus has, is so far the only Republican in the race. Billings businessman Kirk Bushman says he might yet get into the race.
Lange said his high-profile run-in with Schweitzer gives him one advantage not many have after just a few years in the state House: everyone knows who he is.
“They knew who I was. For better or worse, you have that name ID.” Lange said he found after recently walking into a small-town Montana cafe.
He told the Republicans that President Bush has been “weak” in Iraq and got bogged down. He said the communists in China are stiffing Americans with tainted products while they pollute the air.
Lange said he will work hard to persuade Montanans to vote for him.
“I have an absolute, do-not-quit attitude,” Lange said. “I will fight for every vote in every corner of Montana.”
One Republican at the meeting said Lange might do it. Although Bill Lumma said he is also waiting to hear more about Bushman.
“I think if he plays it right, he might,” Lumma said. “I like what I heard today.”
Lange also gave reporters a 20-point campaign pledge and promised action on a wide variety of issues, from wolves to forest management.