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Haven't talked about this race in a while.  Turtle Man wants to be majority leader even though he has a tough race ahead of him.  But he wants to help his party pick up a seat though:

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) says he’s getting strong encouragement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans to run for the upper chamber, and will give the race serious thought during the August recess.
“We’re getting urged to run for that Senate seat. I’ve spoken to Sen. McConnell, and he’d like to see Montana be a Senate seat in his column,” Daines told The Hill during a Thursday interview in his office. “We’ve had a lot of encouragement from the senators to consider the race, and we’re giving it the serious consideration that it deserves and will come to a decision here somewhere down the road.”
The freshman congressman has received financial support from several senators as well: McConnell and Senate Republican Caucus Chair John Thune (S.D.) have both donated to him through their leadership political action committees (PAC). National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chairman Rob Portman (R-Ohio) recently held a fundraiser for Daines, the GOP’s preferred choice to run for retiring Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-Mont.) seat.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“We’ve talked a number of times. I’m very high on him,” Portman told The Hill on Thursday. “I just think Steve is a terrific candidate. … He’d be great. He’s got a business background, a trade background, an entrepreneurial innovation background because of his work with that cloud computing company. He’s just a solid guy. I hope he’ll run.” - The Hill, 8/2/13
More below the fold.

Daines is taking his time with his decision.  I can't blame him, he doesn't have that serious of a competition in his primary:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stapleton collected about $91,900 in campaign funds over the past three months, while GOP rival Champ Edmunds raised about $6,300.

Stapleton, an investment adviser a former state senator from Billings, now has collected a total of about $232,000 for the entire campaign. Edmunds, a mortgage banker and state representative, reported raising a total of $13,700 to date.

The reports with the Federal Election Commission showed Stapleton’s campaign has spent a total of about $155,000 so far, including $101,000 over the past three months. Stapleton had about $77,000 left in the bank as of June 30.

Edmunds has spent about $12,000 for the entire campaign, including about $9,100 for the past quarter. He had about $1,800 on hand on June 30. - Missoulan, 7/17/13
Daines of course is the GOP's second strongest choice.  He can beat Edmunds and Stapleton in his primary but PPP showed us a little while ago that ex-governor Marc Racicot would be the GOP's strongest candidate:

In the Republican primary, Racicot has a pretty solid lead over his main competitor, Daines. Racicot currently holds a 47% to 28% lead over Daines, including over 50% of the vote with moderates and slight conservatives who would vote in the Republican primary. - PPP, 6/25/13
PPP also showed Racicot beatng former Governor Brian Schweitzer (D. MT) by one point while Daines trailed Schweitzer by three points.  Of Schweitzer has passed on trying to hold Max Baucus' (S) seat for Team Blue.  Democrats need to find a candidate fast.  Another big name recently declined to run for the seat:

Saying the timing isn’t right, Stephanie Schriock, a prominent women’s leader nationally, on Tuesday became the latest Montana Democrat to decline to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Montana next year.

“I would love to say yes, but this is not the right time,” said Schriock, president of Emily’s List, a national group based in Washington, D.C., that helps elect Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

Schriock grew up in Butte and managed U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s first general election campaign in 2006 and later served as his first chief of staff.

“There’s so much work to be done all over the country fighting on behalf of women and standing up against a concerted effort to roll back the clock on our freedoms and opportunities,” she said in a statement. “I will always be committed to the people who taught me that those freedoms are something we must keep fighting to protect. Montana is my home, and I will always want to be part of its future.” - Helena Independent, 7/31/13

State Auditor Monica Lindeen (D) has also passed on the race.  There are still other options:

NICK WOLCOTT/CHRONICLE.Denise Juneau, Montana's superintendent of public instruction, speaks with the Chronicle on Tuesday.
Democrats are talking to other names in the state, including Montana Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris and Montana public schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. - CNN, 7/30/13
But another name has been mentioned just recently:

Sen. Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) top state-based staffer is quitting to explore a run for Congress.

John Lewis, Baucus's state director, has been considering a run for his boss's seat after he retires, as well as a bid for Montana's at-large House seat.

"After more than decade of fighting for Montana in a role that has brought me to every corner of our great state, I'm excited to explore other opportunities that will allow me to continue my public service," Lewis said in a statement to The Hill.

Lewis has been on the shortlist of possible Senate candidates for Democrats ever since former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) decided not to run for the seat. That move left Democrats without a top-tier recruit in the race, and they're still scrambling to find a candidate to run that can hold the critical open seat and help them defend their majority. - The Hill, 8/2/13

Of course all of us are waiting to see what Juneau is going to do.  Right now she seems focused on her current job:

The Montana Office of Public Instruction on Friday released the its annual Adequate Yearly Progress report (AYP) in accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The current testing goals require that 94.8% of students score proficient or above in reading, and 90% of students score proficient or above in math.

Last year's testing goals were 89.6% in reading and 80% in math.

In 2014, NCLB mandates that all students in Montana schools score proficient or above in reading and math on the state test.

Schools are currently required to meet 41 benchmarks on the state test to meet AYP under the federal NCLB law.

A school's Adequate Yearly Progress is calculated based on test participation, academic achievement, graduation rates, and student attendance.

The AYP graduation rate goal is currently 85%.

In a press release, Superintendent Denise Juneau said, "No Child Left Behind is a broken system that has been overdue for reauthorization by Congress for six years. We need an accountability system that provides meaningful information to educators, parents, students and communities about the educational outcomes in Montana's public schools. It's time for us to work together as Montanans to decide which measures will help us truly analyze the quality of public education in our state and use those measures to develop a new, state-based accountability system." - 3 KRTV, 8/3/13

Staye tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 10:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and Montana Kossaks.

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