MT-Sen: Tossup for Tester
by Jason Williams, Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 05:26:46 PM EST
Self-professed "reformed earmarker" and Montana's lone congressman Denny Rehberg is expected to announce his candidacy Saturday, challenging Sen. Tester. Tester wasted no time getting the frame-jump on his expected opponent, tying Rehberg to Michele Bachmann:
[...] I look forward to comparing records and talking about how we move this country forward, move rural America forward and being all we can be. But it's kind of interesting the way his campaign has started out. He's going to bring Michele Bachmann to Montana -- that's who he'll be standing beside when he announces.
Tester also took shots at Rehberg's vote record on veteran issues, and staked out a clear position on improving -- not repealing -- the Affordable Care Act.
Rehberg's confidence comes from his 60% victory in the congressional race, and the low bar for jumping on the tea party wave like every other "reformed" conservative with a hat in the ring. But as Tester himself has said: that was the house, this is the senate. Rehberg's 6th term congressional landslide could be attributed to his ability to raise money against a lesser known, a luxury he won't have in this race.
His congressional issues page reads contrary to the current tea party purity tests, touting his support for SCHIP, access to health care, government programs helping people, etc. Expect it to be scrubbed by Saturday, especially this:
While I am concerned about continued funding for rail service along Montana's hi-line, Amtrak passenger rail service needs to be restructured in order to improve passenger service throughout the United States. I will work hard to ensure that Montana’s passenger rail service is maintained through any re-structuring process.
Tea party foul, Denny. Trains = Tyranny, dontcha know!
And if watching Rehberg morph into a darling of the Palin/Bachmann club isn't enough to make this the earliest race to watch, Swing State Project is placing this one in the "titanic clash" tossup category, right out of the gate.