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Ok, I know today is both an exciting day because Congressman Ed Markey (D. MA) will become Senator Ed Markey (D. MA) after today.  It's also dark day because of the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Voting Rights Act.  So to balance that, I'm going to give you some "ok but could be better" news.  PPP's latest Montana U.S. Senate poll shows that even with former Governor Brian Schweitzer (D. MT) as the nominee to succeed retiring Senator Max Baucus (D. MT), this race is still a toss up:

Three candidates rise to the top in our polling: Brian Schweitzer on the Democratic side and Marc Racicot and Steve Daines on the Republican side. And any match up involving those three candidates would be a toss up. Schweitzer leads Daines 48/45, but trails Racicot by a single point at 47/46. Schweitzer overcomes the GOP lean of the state by leading both of them (Daines 50/39 and Racicot 46/41) with independents. He also has the highest favorability rating of any of the potential candidates at 54/40, followed by Racicot at 43/37, and Daines' approval of 41/33.
Schweitzer would blow both of the Republicans we tested other than Daines and Racicot out of the water. He would have a 52/37 lead over Champ Edmunds and a 52/38 one over Corey Stapleton. Likewise Daines and Racicot would both have substantial leads over the potential Democrats we tested besides Schweitzer- Daines leads Denise Juneau 48/38 and Monica Lindeen 49/37 in hypothetical contests, while Racicot leads Juneau 52/37 and Lindeen 52/35 in head to heads.
On the off chance that Schweitzer, Daines, and Racicot all sat it out the next tier Democrats (Lindeen and Juneau) are stronger candidates to start out than the next tier Republicans (Edmunds and Stapleton). Juneau leads Edmunds 41/34 and Stapleton 42/38, while Lindeen leads Edmunds 39/34 and Stapleton 39/37. Lindeen (+16 at 38/22) and Juneau (+14 at 39/25) both have positive favorability numbers, while Stapleton (-10 at 14/24) and Edmunds (-18 at 4/22) are both under water.
When it comes to who Republicans want as their candidate next year, Racicot leads the way at 47% to 28% for Daines with Stapleton and Edmunds way behind at 5% each. Racicot leads Daines by wide margins with both moderate (55/18) and 'somewhat conservative' (53/24) voters, while it's considerably tighter with 'very conservative' voters (39/36). That suggests some potential vulnerability on the right for Racicot in a primary if he does indeed end up deciding to get into the race. - PPP, 6/25/13
Ok, so a mixed bag of news here.  Polls earlier this year showed Schweitzer with a lead over all GOP opponents.  Plus it's interesting that former Congressman and failed 1996 & 2012 U.S. Senate candidate, Denny Rehberg (R. MT) wasn't included in this poll.  He was reconsidering this race.  But the poll shows that former Governor Marc Racicot (R. MT) could still be vulnerable in his own primary and Racicot is the top GOP candidate.  Raciot and Congressman Steve Daines (R. MT-AL) have stated that they are keeping the door open on this race:

Republicans in Montana and D.C. say that Rep. Steve Daines (Mont.) is the Republican giving the race the most consideration and that he’s firmly undecided, keeping an eye on what Schweitzer does.

“The congressman is first and foremost focused on serving the people of Montana,” Daines spokeswoman Alee Lockman said.

“This is an unexpected opportunity we’re taking time to seriously and carefully consider.”

Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot (R) hasn’t closed the door on the race, either, though he’s avoided any public comment on the race.

Racicot and Daines have a good relationship going back years.

Strategists believe the former governor is unlikely to consider running unless Daines forgoes a bid and the GOP needs a top-tier candidate to challenge Schweitzer.

Daines would have to give up a safe House seat to run for the Senate, and Republican strategists admitted Schweitzer’s decision could influence his thinking.

“There’s no question that what Gov. Schweitzer chooses to do is a factor. But it certainly isn’t the only factor,” said Bowen Greenwood, executive director of the Montana Republican Party. - The Hill, 6/18/13

Sources say that Schweitzer is going to jump into this race:

Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is laying the groundwork to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Max Baucus in Montana, and looks very much like a candidate, sources have told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau.

Schweitzer, 57, a Democrat, was in Washington, D.C., last week, meeting with labor and conservation groups that traditionally support Democrats, talking about the Senate race and what assistance the groups could offer.

“I would be shocked if he didn’t announce (soon) that he’s a candidate,” said one Democratic insider, who declined to be quoted by name.

No final decision

Schweitzer, in a telephone interview Friday evening, said while he’s been actively exploring whether to run, he hasn’t made a final decision.

He said it’s a difficult decision, and he’s not sure he wants to give up his post-political life of living on Georgetown Lake to get back into the political fray of Washington, D.C. – and take a substantial pay cut.

“The question is, can you make a difference?” he said. “I don’t know that a lot of people back there are even trying to make a difference. … That’s a demerit.”

Schweitzer said he knows he has to decide “pretty soon, and I will.” - Billings Gazette, 6/16/13

And Schweitzer's potential colleague, Senator Jon Tester (D. MT), sounds pretty confident that Schweitzer will run for Baucus' seat:

"I don't bet the farm on many things, but I'd bet the farm he's running," Tester said on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown" Thursday.

Schweitzer is Democrats' best hope at winning retiring Sen. Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) seat. He told The Hill shortly after Baucus's retirement that he was looking at a run, but has been silent since — which has made some Democrats nervous.

But Tester isn't one of them, despite not having talked to Schweitzer in some time.

"I will tell you, I haven't talked to Brian in six months, but the truth is he's working on a mine issue right now. I anticipate, and my crystal ball is still a little cloudy, but I anticipate he's going to get in to this thing." - The Hill, 6/13/13

Plus it looks like Schweitzer is trying to patch things up with Baucus' team:

The headline-grabbing, backslapping Democratic populist won a second term as governor in 2008 with nearly two-thirds of the vote, and he remained popular as he moved out of the governor’s mansion in January. But his style and perceived not-a-team-player attitude after eight years in Helena has rubbed numerous people in both parties the wrong way.

That includes — but is hardly limited to — the inner circle of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. According to several Montana Democrats — who all hope he runs and wins — Schweitzer’s campaign planning has included extending olive branches to a Baucus political apparatus he’ll likely need.

“He is on a charm offensive,” Montana Democratic strategist Barrett Kaiser said. “That’s good because Brian is a smart enough guy to know that he’s going to need more than the $50,000 that the out-of-state netroots are promising him.”

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 27: Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., speaks to a reporter as he leaves the Senate floor on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Baucus’ retirement puts Democrats’ hopes of holding the seat in this GOP-leaning state in the hands of Schweitzer, a talented politician by all accounts. His solid approval ratings, successful tenure as governor and support among Republicans makes him the obvious — and perhaps only — choice of party leadership.

Despite the rocky relationships, Schweitzer would be favored to win if he runs. Plus, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has signaled it would back his candidacy with significant financial support. Meanwhile, Baucus cut a $100,000 check to the DSCC on Tuesday, an indication that more financial support will come. - Roll Call, 6/19/13

Schweitzer has also been pretty vocal about his distaste for the hill:

Brian Schweitzer, governor of Montana, speaks at the Montana Economic Development Summit in Butte, Montana, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010. The summit, hosted by Democratic Senator Max Baucus, welcomes top policy makers, corporate executives and investors for a discussion on how create jobs. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) is being pretty coy about it, but it's generally understood that he is mulling a run for the Senate seat currently occupied by the soon-to-retire Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. Of course, Schweitzer is going to have to first make peace with the fact that he'd be leaving Big Sky Country for the Beltway. How's he managing that? Well, it depends on what you read.

For instance, in a conversation with Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad, Schweitzer seems to be taking to the prospect of a move to DC like a duck to acid:

RC: Well, the Billings Gazette story over the weekend said you’re trying to get here, for work at least.
BS: They didn’t say that. They said maybe.

RC: Is that accurate?

BS: Maybe?

RC: Maybe you’re looking into it, or maybe you want to run?

BS: Maybe I’m looking at it.

RC: So what are you doing to maybe look at it? It said you were in D.C. — were you meeting here with potential supporters?

BS: Oh, I was having a look around to see how bad it would be to live there. And I concluded it was really bad to live there — traffic is bad, weather is worse. Most of the people you talk to are frauds. You know.

Elsewhere, Schweitzer says of Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, "God, that place sucks."

Well, look, D.C.'s terrible traffic and summertime weather really can not be defended. And let's just say that I choose to not offer a defense of Georgetown at this time. But the fact that "most of the people" that Schweitzer talks to in D.C. are "frauds," has less to do with Washington, D.C. as a city, and more to do with the fact that Schweitzer makes the affirmative choice to participate in politics, and that is why he spends most of his time talking to frauds.

Of course, it's an open question whether or not Schweitzer really regrets talking to all those frauds, because a lot of them can really help a person out with a Senate race that they're maybe possibly (probably) mulling. And, as Trygstad reported in an earlier piece, "Schweitzer’s campaign planning has included extending olive branches to a Baucus political apparatus he’ll likely need." - Huffington Post, 6/20/13

Then again, this type of trash talk about Washington could also be effective campaign rhetoric to paint Schweitzer as the D.C. outsider and true blue Montana cowboy.  I think at the end of the day Schweitzer will jump into this race.  He may hate D.C. and I can't blame him but he's one to listen to his constituents and with Tester as his colleague, they could do great things for both the Senate and Montana.  Especially when it comes to civil liberties and GMO labels.  PPP's poll may not have given us the results we all wanted today but this poll will motivate Schweitzer to campaign hard if he wants to win this seat.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Montana Kossaks.


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