By Tim Baldwin
Political strategists call Montana’s U.S. Senate race one of the most important in 2014, and conservatives see the potential to change federal politics starting from Montana.
Demonstrating this race’s importance, Steve Daines chose to run for this seat while perhaps jeopardizing his U.S. House seat.
So, is Daines the Republican primary “shoe-in” for 2014? Perhaps.
The other Republican candidates, Champ Edmunds and David Leaser, have already expressed their feeling that the Republican Party establishment is slighting their campaigns in favor of Daines.
Daines demonstrated his ability to win in a statewide race in 2012 when he ran on a “less government, more jobs” platform. But this was before he voted to fund Obamacare – a highly unpopular vote among conservatives and libertarians and a law Daines himself claims destroyed Americans’ freedom to choose their own healthcare.
Daines explained why he voted this way and went against the super-majority of Republicans in the House.
But is his justification enough to overcome lingering conservative resentment and win the Senate seat held by a Democrat since 1978?
Daines better work hard to offer conservatives and libertarians a believable and convincing hope that he will execute a fix for the Obamacare scare.
Otherwise, the 2014 results may be disappointing for “less government, more jobs” advocates.
By Joe Carbonari
There’s no doubt that the Montana U.S. Senate race is going to be important. Control of the U.S. Senate may turn on it.
A swing of six seats nationally would put Republicans in the majority. Most pundits seem to think that goal is achievable.
Daines’ victory over Democrat Kim Gillan in 2010, which gave him his current U.S. House seat, would suggest that voters in this state find him widely acceptable.
Neither Champ Edmunds nor David Leaser can say that. Should either of them win the Republican primary, the winner would have a major name-recognition battle to wage and a winner’s image to build. On the face of it, Daines is the clear rational choice.
Unfortunately, many feel that some of the leadership of the state Republican Party cannot always be counted on to act rationally.
To win the support of these leaders, and of those who they influence, some fear that Daines may move too far to the right.
If Leaser splits the strongly conservative vote with Edmunds, Daines could easily win his primary.
If, however, Leaser positions himself, or gets positioned, as closer to Daines than to Edmunds, the opposite might well happen.
Edmunds might advance.
Democrats might find that to their liking. It will be worth watching.
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