Visit Diane Smith’s Facebook and you’ll notice that she has completely embraced the Montana Democratic Party. Whether it’s posting pictures of the Party’s banner, re-posting Party events, or just saying how great the Montana Democratic Party is – Diane Smith is all over it. For someone that has contributed in the past to Denny Rehberg and Conrad Burns, I’m sure it was a bit of transition.
Diane Smith is most likely an “Independent” who leans left on a lot of issues, but leans right when it comes to business. I doubt she’s going to change many of her positions for the sake of the primary – she’s looking to the general. That being said, she also knows she has a lot of work to do before anyone considers her a dyed in the blue Democrat.
Can she do it before June 5th? I highly doubt the left-wing of the party will ever embrace her. In fact, I think the chance of that happening is slim to none. She came out the gate wrong and has a lot of baggage (see contributing to Rehberg).
So, what is her path to victory? Simple. Keep out raising everyone else in the race and convert Gillan’s supporters. Smith is a real thorn in Gillan’s side and will continue to be that way through June.
So where does that leave the race?
Wilmer has a fairly large, die hard group of supporters but doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction beyond that. Strohmaier seems to have some increased support, but remains a huge underdog. And Melinda Gopher has yet to file.
In the end, even with a huge money drop, I’m not sure Smith will be able to excite enough voters to win in June. That being said, she could create enough of a splash to make what was once Gillan’s race to lose, a Gillan v. Wilmer primary.
Either way, this is a fascinating race and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.