WASHINGTON (AP) – Montana Sen. Max Baucus has already raised about $9 million for his re-election bid this November, on pace to surpass the amount raised by former Sen. Conrad Burns and set a new record for a Senate campaign in the state.
As of Dec. 31, Baucus — a Democrat who became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee last year — has raised about $9 million since he was re-elected in 2002 and has $6.3 million in the bank. He raised $1.5 million from September through December.
The five-term senator’s impressive fundraising appears to have scared off most well-known Republicans. So far he has two GOP challengers: Kirk Bushman, who works at an engineering firm and has not previously run for office, and former Montana House Majority Leader Michael Lange, who was ousted by his Republican colleagues after a profanity-laced tirade against Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Although Baucus has not formally announced his re-election bid, he is widely expected to run.
Lange said Tuesday that he believes he has raised around $15,000. Despite his significant dollar disadvantage, Lange said he believes he can win the Senate seat by running many local campaigns similar to state House races.
“We are going to run a hundred House races,” he said.
A Bushman aide said the campaign had “no comment at this time” on fundraising.
Burns narrowly lost his seat to Democrat Jon Tester in 2006. A post-election campaign finance report filed by Burns’ campaign showed that he raised a total of $9.4 million for the six-year election cycle that ended in late November 2006. Tester raised $5.5 million in the same period.
Baucus’s fundraising continues to outpace the amount he raised during his last re-election bid. He raised about $6.6 million from 1996 through late November 2002, according to FEC reports.
Baucus became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee when Democrats took the majority in January — a position that traditionally draws campaign donations from a wide variety of corporate interests and individuals.
According to his report, Baucus has raised a total of $4.7 million from individuals and $3.8 million from political action committees.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.