Montana Politics

Rehberg to Run; Daines to Look Even More Foolish?

If Roll Call is to be believed, Dennis Rehberg has just handed Montana Democrats the best opportunity imaginable to let Jon Tester rid the U.S. Congress of two of the worst representatives Montana has sent to Washington. Although the story relies on some terrible anonymous sourcing, it would make sense for Rehberg to announce his bid while the Tea Queen was in town, staring off to the side.

Jon Tester absolutely can win this race, and frankly, I’m surprised to see Rehberg willing to take the risk of running. Despite a historically bad year for Democrats and an energized Republican base in Montana, polling between the two was incredibly tight–and Rehberg’s penchant for gaffes and embarrassments will hurt him much more in a closely scrutinized race.

Rehberg has won exactly one close race in his life. Every other time he’s faced credible opposition, he’s lost. There’s little reason to believe he has the intellect or ability to win a tough race this time.

The real loser, though, has to be Steve Daines. It’s pretty hard to look like a decisive leader when you duck out of a race because Denny Rehberg scares you out of it. I’m not sure that the new Daines campaign sign is likely to inspire voters to look his way.

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  • Interesting . . .I do have to wonder though why you think Jon Tester is destined to win this race. Even among the many Dems I talk to, I hear many wondering aloud what he has done in his last 4 years for the people of Montana?

    How did his recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan help the people of Montana as an example?

    His other recent announcement that he plans to introduce legislation to lift the automatic annual pay increast trigger for members of Congress, which while very popular, looks incredibly obvious to any legitimate observer that he is pandering.

    If you look back on what he has accomplished in the Senate one wonders what, if any, legislative contributions he has made and more to the point what has helped his Constituents back here in Montana. We elected him to do a job and I for one have been somewhat disappointed.

    Will Rehberg do a better job? Not for this political observer; however, his supporters smell blood in the water and will be energized by this move. Rehberg is no political slouch, I am certain his internal political polling (as Rollcall eludes) shows this as a possibility and I would have to assume Tester's does too. Then there is the money angle. Rehberg has the money already in the bank to compete with Tester. For this reason, the Daines camp would be smart to take the deal and switch to the House race. It is an open race at this point and he would have a head start on fundraising there. The bottomline is that the GOP has angled a smart move here (at least from there point of view) and could be very competitive.

    We can't forget that Tester only won by 3,000 votes against a man he had successfully branded as a Washington Insider and a crook in a year where Bush and all Republicans were on the ropes. We have to be honest with ourselves, that isn't going to happen again. Dennis McDonald tried to pain Rehberg that way and it blew up in his face. Most Montanans see Rehberg, gaffes and all, differently than they viewed Burns. The political atmosphere has changed in Montana again–hell Schweitzer has all but swtiched his political affiliation to center right "I" already (interesting call Rollcall) to be able to operate during this legislative session.

    I am not at all confident in our chances, I hope I am wrong.

  • Oops, sorry I almost forgot my AGENDA at home!

    Aah and my good friend Franke Wilmer. That's not such a good idea either–don't get me wrong she is great political scientist; but political scientists should not be politicians, i.e. studying ones trade is not the same as practicing it. Apologies to those folks over in Bozeman! Anyway–I seem to recall an episode on the local CBS affiliates around Montana where Dr. Wilmer (not Rep. Wilmer at the time) was a panelist speaking about the 9/11 attacks and she started in on the "well we need to look inward at ourselves" mantra for explaining away the radical nature of Islamic terrorists. Don't think Mr. Daines won't use that. That kind of political hyperbole as you call it Fatso, won't fly with the folks in Montana for long!

    Will the Mike Mansfield's of Montana PLEASE STAND UP!–Still pessimistic about our chances.

  • I believe the 2012 Senate race will be the most expensive and devisive political race in the history of the state. Both candidates will have millions of dollars at their disposal and of course Montana is a inexpensive state to buy media.

    It's one of those races where 85% of the voters have already made up their mind and it will be a contest to see who can get the remaining 15%.

    Tester will have to rely on the youth vote just as he did against Burns and will have to sweep Missoula, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls and win in Billings.

    Rehberg will easily carry all of eastern Montana but will have to clobber Tester in the Flathead and hope to beat him in Billings.

    Once again Billings will be the swing city. Voter turnout will be high which will benefit Tester if he can boost the turnout in the urban areas.

    Should be an interesting race and with the current political environment I would give the edge to Rehberg.

    But lots can change in 2 years…remember in 2008 the Republican party was thought to be in chaos. And of course the wildcard…Rehberg will probably have one or two stupid moments in the next 2 years.

  • That’s a very good feedback. What are your thoughts on expansion on a global scale? Sometimes people get a little upset with global expansion. I will be back soon and follow up with a response.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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