UPDATE: Rehberg Gets Senate Challenge from the Right

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A Terry farmer unknown to statewide politics is creating a U.S. Senate race primary challenge to Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, who remains focused on unseating freshman Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in November.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been gearing up for what is expected to be one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country. On Thursday, Rehberg continued his campaign to beat Tester with a speech to the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

But a political newcomer by the name of Dennis Teske is arguing that Republicans should nominate him instead of Rehberg to face Tester. He filed paperwork Wednesday with the Secretary of State to appear on the June primary ballot.

Teske’s Web site makes it clear he will be trying to challenge Rehberg from the right. The political newcomer said the nation’s debt is a big problem, and points out that Rehberg also contributed to this issue.

“We need to be self-reliant, independent and responsible for our own lives,” his campaign statement read. “I believe three things have added to the greatness of this nation, God, the family unit and patriotism.”

Both the Rehberg and Tester campaigns used the news to attack the other side — and had nothing to say about an entrant with little name identification among voters who they clearly view as an incredible long-shot in a big money race.

A Rehberg spokesman said it was no surprise others want to join the race to derail Tester’s support of some Obama administration policies. A Tester spokesman argued the new entrant reflects opposition to “the erosion of America’s freedoms” like the Patriot Act that Tester opposes.

Also on Thursday, Rehberg asked the Montana Chamber of Commerce for their support in 2012. The veteran Republcian argued that his desire for limited government, and the opinion that “government is part of the problem,” more closely matches the views of Montana.

Tester speaks to the group on Friday.