Want a sure sign that Karl Rove is getting nervous about this race?  Here's a sign:


WASHINGTON - JANUARY 16:  Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove addresses the executive director's meeting of the Republican National Committee's winter meeting January 16, 2008 in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Rove commented on both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns currently vying for their party's nomination.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
American Crossroads, a Super PAC associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, said Tuesday it will spend $1.68 million in the race in support of Republican Steve Daines and against Democratic Senator John Walsh in the final six weeks before the November election.

The group said it had booked television advertising time in Montana between Sept 23 and Election Day on Nov 4.

The expenditure is part of about $20 million American Crossroads and an affiliated group, Crossroads GPS, is spending on Senate races. In addition to Montana, the groups have reserved television time this fall in Alaska, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

A spokesman for the group said the figures reflect just "initial" bookings, so the actual expenditures could change. - KTVQ, 7/1/14

Montana has been hyped up as a top pick up opportunity for the GOP because it's a red state and the GOP has a supposedly strong candidate in Tea Party Rep. Steve Daines (R. MT).  The advertising market is inexpensive so why is Rove spending a lot of money on this race?  I can think of a few reasons why Rove would be nervous.  First, there's the polling that shows Daines with a big lead:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary election loss Tuesday has thrown into question the most recent poll placing Montana's Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines comfortably ahead of Democratic Sen. John Walsh by 23 points.

Few expected the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives to lose to unknown tea party candidate Dave Brat. Cantor had his incumbency, support from big-name Republicans and more campaign cash — $5 million vs. $200,000.

Cantor's internal polling showed him leading 62 to 38 over Brat at the end of May. Another survey of likely Virginia voters by polling firm Vox Populi showed a dip in Cantor's numbers but still showed Cantor with a 52-41 lead.

A more recent Vox Populi poll showed Daines holding the support of 56 percent of voters compared to Walsh's 33 percent in Montana's U.S. Senate race.

“Just because they missed the primary in Virginia's seventh does not mean they are wrong here,” said MSU political science professor David Parker, who analyzes Montana political races. “But I have to couch that by saying Vox Populi's poll in particular was designed to favor the Republican.”

For example, questions on Daines' favorability were missing from the poll. The poll also did not include questions about Libertarian candidate Roger Roots but did have a biased question regarding Walsh's position on the Keystone pipeline, Parker said.

Walsh spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua had a different take: “Montanans don't put stock in Washington polls, much less fake ones.”

Passalacqua said Democratic voter turnout often surpasses what polls predict and that some were taken before the Walsh campaign began airing TV ads. - Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 6/11/14

Then there's the fact that "Shutdown Steve" wants to sell of Montana's public lands which really pisses off Montana's hunters:
U.S. Rep. Steve Daines recently told U.S. News that his strategy to win the Senate race this year is to pick off and neutralize constituents like advocates for the North Fork. His recent actions show why he can’t be trusted.

U.S. Sens. John Walsh and Jon Tester are pushing a bill, originally introduced in 2010, to withdraw the U.S. watershed from future development, following through on a deal between Montana and British Columbia to permanently protect the North Fork.

Montanans were hopeful when Daines introduced a companion bill last year marking the first time in 30 years that the whole delegation supported a public lands bill. Our hopes rose further when on March 4 the House of Representatives passed the bill.

Unfortunately, the North Fork has now run into the tea party gauntlet in the Senate. What is clear is that the game was rigged.

On April 3, three Republican senators from other states — Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Texas — blocked our senators’ attempt to pass this made-in-Montana bill in the Senate. The senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, recently donated $10,000 to Daines’ campaign.

As Daines knows, the vote in the Senate (by “unanimous consent”) was the Senate’s equivalent of how the House passed the bill. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “most noncontroversial measures are approved by ‘suspension of the rules’ in the House, and by unanimous consent in the Senate.”

In fact, all eight Senate public lands bills that have passed the chamber this Congress passed by unanimous consent. Those bills set aside 85,000 acres of new wilderness and 73 miles of wild and scenic river designation in eight states.

So why is the North Fork bill so different for Senate Republicans?

The answer reminds me of another Senate race 26 years ago when President Ronald Reagan pocket-vetoed the last Montana wilderness bill to pass Congress in order to jam then-Sen. John Melcher in his race against Conrad Burns.

For example, Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma is insisting on the opportunity to offer controversial amendments to the North Fork that would have brought down the entire proposal. This is a familiar ploy.

A similar Republican demand last fall (supported by Daines) caused the shutdown of the federal government for 16 days, costing Montana upwards of $45 million in lost business from Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks alone. - Great Falls Tribune, 6/20/14

And Daines has a history of blocking legislation to help protect Montana's public lands:
Sen. John Walsh tried to pass by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate a bill protecting the North Fork of the Flathead River from mineral development. Rep. Steve Daines, when he was asked to help the bill by talking to the three tea party senators – Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma – asked why Senate Democrat leaders couldn’t have brought the bill to the floor for a regular vote, avoiding the need for unanimous consent.

Then he bragged that he got his version of the North Fork bill passed in the House because he wants to get it done for the people of Montana.

He could care less about Montana and the people of Montana.

Here was the perfect opportunity for him to work with Walsh to get this North Fork thing passed and done.

He has said he wants to work with the rest of Montana’s congressional delegation and here was his chance and he totally blew it and showed he is completely unfit to be either our congressman or our U.S. senator. - The Missoulan, 4/17/14

Not to mention this is looking like a serious issue in the race:


An obscure, chicken-sized bird best known for its mating dance could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate in November.

The federal government is considering listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species next year. Doing so could limit development, energy exploration, hunting and ranching on the 165 million acres of the bird’s habitat across 11 Western states.

Apart from the potential economic disruption, which some officials in Western states discuss in tones usually reserved for natural disasters, the specter of the bird’s listing is reviving the centuries-old debates about local vs. federal control and whether to develop or conserve the region’s vast expanses of land.

Two Republican congressmen running for the U.S. Senate in Montana and Colorado, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner, are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the federal government from listing the bird for a decade as long as states try to protect it.

“Montanans want locally driven solutions,” Daines said in an interview. “They don’t want bureaucrats thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., dictating what should happen.”

Environmentalists and the two Democratic senators being challenged, John Walsh in Montana and Mark Udall in Colorado, oppose the idea. They say they don’t want a listing, either, but that the threat of one is needed to push states to protect the bird.

“A bill like what some in the House are proposing that would delay listing the bird would actually undermine locally driven efforts,” said Udall spokesman Mike Saccone.

The greater sage grouse is described in the journals of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and it once roamed widely across the massive sagebrush plateaus of the West’s interior.

The bird is perhaps best known for its unusual springtime mating dance, during which it puffs its bulbous chest and emits odd warbles. But livestock grazing eroded the bristly plant that the bird depends upon, development chopped up its habitat and energy exploration erected towers that chased it away from its home range.

Rachel Carson warned in 1962 of the bird’s possible demise in “Silent Spring,” her classic environmental book.

Three environmental groups sued to force the federal government to protect the bird after the government declined to list it as endangered in 2005. In a 2010 settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to decide on listing by September 2015.

A major factor will be whether the federal, state and local landowners whose land it inhabits protect the grouse. Many environmental groups say the bird is a stand-in for a vanishing Western ecosystem that needs preserving.

“This is the great landscape of America, when you travel west and see open spaces. This is all the stuff you grew up watching on television,” said Randi Spivak of the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona, one of the groups that sued to force grouse protection. “And that land has been drilled, subdivided.”

Industry groups and state governments worry about the cost.

A study by the Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based trade organization of independent oil and gas producers, estimates that from 5,000 to 31,000 jobs could be lost should the federal government take steps to protect the grouse.

Kathleen Sgamma, the group’s vice president of government and public affairs, said that as the federal government starts to draw up protections, energy leases are being deferred, drilling projects shut down and bureaucratic hurdles raised to any kind of development in the bird’s range. - CBS Denver, 7/5/14

Besides not seeing any legitimate polling in a while and the fact that Daines is an anti-choice extremist, the public lands issue is what should be making Republicans nervous.  Besides pissing off hunters, public lands are great for Montana's tourism business and for the state's economy in general.  If I were Rove, I'd be nervous about this race as well.  Daines' only route of attack has been swift boating the only Iraq War Veteran in the Senate:


Campaigns for Montana's U.S. Senate race are picking up the pace and Summer is the season when political attack ads begin to bloom.

And sometimes, even your local news anchors unwillingly show up in these attack ads.
Montanans saw plenty of negative political ads in the 2012 and we're seeing more now. But one of this year's features Tim McGonigal and Shannon Newth, anchors at MTN's KXLH and KRTV. So what are they doing there?

In this case, the Super PAC American Crossroads pulled the images from a newscast describing a reprimand Sen. John Walsh got from the Army back in 2010, when he was adjutant general of the Montana National Guard.

But the ad leaves out a response from Gov. Steve Bullock (at the time, Walsh was lieutenant governor) as well as a more thorough defense of the situation by Walsh himself; Walsh noted that the affair related to his activity with a group that advocates for the National Guard and its members and their families. He said he had nothing to apologise for.

Other veterans -- including one whose serious injuries, he said, might have been prevented by the better equipment Walsh and the group called for -- came to his defense.

"Campaigns are basically fighting about narratives and fighting about how we see facts," David Parker, a political science professor at Montana State University, told MTN. "So you put journalists in these advertisements, what it does is it lends credibility from the perspective of the campaign, to the narrative that they're trying to tell."

Most people don't trust politicians and don't trust Congress, he said.

"They hate Congress," he said. "Now admittedly, journalists are not necessarily perceived that well either among the general public, but they're perceived better."

Another more recent Daines ad features a woman who served in the Guard and says she was discriminated against there under Walsh's leadership; Walsh and the Guard have denied her claims. Walsh meanwhile has produced some ads pointing out Daines' conservative stance on abortion, and accusing him of moving jobs to China when he was an executive with Proctor & Gamble. - KXLF, 7/3/14

And with Supreme Court's recent ruling on the contraception mandate and Daines' record on being so anti-choice, he really should be sweating bullets:


Their Senate majority in peril, anxious Democrats have seized the Supreme Court decision that some companies need not provide birth control to women as fresh evidence of the GOP’s “war on women” — an argument they hope will energize female voters who could decide the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

Republicans aggressively cheered the high court’s decision, but GOP leaders concede that their party must tread carefully. Even before Monday’s decision was announced, GOP operatives coached their candidates to cast the ruling as a victory for religious freedom and further evidence that the country’s health care law is deeply flawed.

“Republicans have to be careful about not appearing as though they’re anti-contraception. This is a constitutional issue,” said Katie Packer Gage, a GOP strategist whose firm advises Republicans on navigating women’s issues. “We have to be very, very cautious as a party.”

The GOP for years has tried to make inroads with two groups that tend to favor Democrats: women and younger voters. As popular as the court’s decision will be with the Republican base, it’s likely to be just as unpopular this election year and into 2016 with those who depend on insurance to pay for birth control — a group that includes women and younger voters.

“The thought of your boss telling you what kind of birth control you can and can’t get is offensive and it certainly is motivating to women to vote,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which plans to spend several million dollars this year to campaign for Senate candidates.

In Iowa, Democrats have signaled plans to highlight Republican Joni Ernst’s support of a personhood amendment to the state’s constitution. And in Montana, Democratic Sen. John Walsh aired an ad in May criticizing Republican Rep. Steve Daines’ support of legislation to restrict access to abortions and quickly pounced on the Supreme Court ruling, saying it would “infringe upon the right to make private health choices.”

It won’t be clear until November whether women will respond to such appeals. - Washington Post, 7/1/14

We shall see indeed.  in the mean time, Walsh has been busy trying to solve Montana's problems like this:


Desperate for new teachers, Hays/Lodge Pole School District Superintendent Margaret Campbell has pulled out all the stops: A three-bedroom home to live in for $230 a month, with utilities paid; a $1,000 signing bonus; and even a dollar-for-dollar match for up to $300 on monthly student loan payments.

And still, luring teachers to the school district on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in the shadow of the piney Little Rocky Mountains is extremely difficult. Starting pay is about $26,000 a year.

“A lot of people don’t want to live in a remote area,” said Campbell, who this summer is looking to hire three teachers and a principal. “It’s isolated here.”

Isolated, and challenging. In Montana, teachers are in demand, especially those capable of teaching special education, English and math. A report issued each December on teacher shortages listed 1,169 teaching vacancies, including 463 in critical areas like special education, English, math and science. The shortages are worst on American Indian reservations and rural schools on the outskirts of reservations.

American Indians as a whole represent a relatively small 11.8 percent of Montana’s 142,000 K-12 students, but in 40 Montana school districts American Indians make up at least half the student body. Of those districts, 34 did not meet No Child Left Behind standards.

The 20 most needy schools are all located in these areas. The schools are not only remote, but also lead the state in the percentage of students eligible for federally subsidized free and price-reduced school lunches, as well as low student achievement based on No Child Left Behind results.

The economies on reservations are the worst in the state, with double-digit unemployment rates on all but one reservation. On the Crow Reservation, the rate is 25 percent, according to Montana’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Earlier in June, Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., introduced a bill to completely forgive student loans for American Indian teachers who were teaching in schools with a percentage of American Indian students.

The bill was proposed to Walsh by tribal leaders concerned about the need for more American Indian teachers. The loans would be forgiven up to $17,500, provided American Indian teachers were in schools with at least 10 Indian students or not less than 25 percent of the total number of individuals enrolled in the school. - Billings Gazette, 6/30/14

And Walsh delivered on this:


The City of Libby will receive nearly $4.7 million in federal assistance to finally replace the Flower Creek Dam.

The grant, approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA-RD) and announced by senators Jon Tester and John Walsh this week, will be in addition to a $3.7 million loan to the project that was also announced on Tuesday.

Libby Mayor Doug Roll said the new round of funding, combined with community funding and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) grants, would allow the project to finally move forward after two-and-a-half years of delays.

The announcement of the funding follows a setback in the planned 2013 construction of the 68-year-old dam. The halt came after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked for a biological assessment of the grizzly bear, Canada lynx and bull trout populations, though the project was again given the go-ahead after approval this past spring. - The Western News, 7/3/14

A lot can happen between now and November and we will have to fight hard to keep this seat.  Click here to donate and get involved with Walsh's re-election campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 05:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Montana Kossaks, and Native American Netroots.

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