Driscoll Gives Himself ’50-50 Chance’ to Beat Rehberg

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – John Driscoll was not surprised, like most everyone else was, that his anti-campaign prevailed in this month’s Democratic primary — and gives himself a “50-50” chance in November against Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

But Driscoll, 61, is adamant his congressional bid will not involve any money or fundraising.

The retired National Guard colonel, who worked in the Pentagon up until a few years ago, instead plans to rely on visits with voters as he travels for summer vacation. From there, he expects word of mouth to carry his message: get the corrupting money out of Congress, wean the nation from oil and end the “stupid” war in Iraq immediately.

“I would say it’s a 50-50 chance going into the general election,” Driscoll told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.

Rehberg’s campaign manager said the congressman expected to win but was not taking anything for granted.

“So he’s going to run this campaign like he’s run every other one — by taking his message of good-paying jobs, American-made energy and accessible health care to every corner of the state,” Eric Bierwagen said.

Driscoll, a public service commissioner from the 1980s through the early 1990s and a state lawmaker before that, considers himself a credible and legitimate candidate even if others don’t.

The Montana Democratic Party obviously favored Helena attorney Jim Hunt, who had started raising a decent amount of money, in the primary. But voters surprised observers early this month and picked Driscoll.

So, how does he win a congressional seat without spending any money?

Driscoll said Obama’s plan to run a campaign in Montana will drive up voter turnout among Democrats, which will help his campaign. And Driscoll said he thinks many Republicans are upset with the direction of the country and will be looking for an alternative.

Driscoll said energy issues are important to him. He is opposed to drilling for oil offshore or in wilderness areas, calling it a “bankrupt” idea. He is advocating alternative energy, such as solar for homes and electricity for cars. He also takes a dim view of coal development.

Driscoll said it was unfair to portray him as someone who is not campaigning, he is just doing it differently.

For instance, he is leaving this weekend for a backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness or the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Along the way, he said, he will stop in coffee shops and talk to people.

“I am definitely campaigning, and I am definitely serious,” Driscoll said.

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