Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2015

Posts in "Montana"

August 24, 2015

Ratings Changes in Two Governors’ Races

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pence spoke about the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act which has been condemned by business leaders and Democrats.  (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Indiana’s Pence angered both moderates and conservatives over how he handled the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (File Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Gubernatorial races don’t get a lot of coverage in the nation’s capital, but based on the field of presidential contenders, the chief executive of each state can be a consequential figure.

Republicans are looking to sweep Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana this year for the first time in history. And the GOP is largely playing offense next year including Montana, where wealthy tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte announced his candidacy against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

Full story

April 27, 2015

Tester’s DSCC Pursues Same Strategy That Nearly Nixed Him in 2006

Elections 2016

Tester makes his way through the basement of the Capitol before a vote on the Senate floor on Dec. 12, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had its way a decade ago, its current chairman probably wouldn’t be in the Senate today.

In the 2006 cycle, Democratic strategists in Washington preferred state Auditor John Morrison in the Montana Senate race, hoping to avoid a primary and keep the party focused on defeating Republican incumbent Conrad Burns. But state Sen. Jon Tester was undeterred by national Democratic efforts to get him out of the race and even bragged about being opposed by the party establishment. Full story

March 19, 2015

Lopach Leads March Toward Democratic Senate Majority

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Smoke billowed out of Ted Kennedy’s living room fireplace as donors gathered in his D.C. home for a fundraiser, though the legendary senator was still on the Hill for votes.

But that wasn’t too much for Tom Lopach.

“I don’t know anyone, my house is on fire and my husband is gone,” Vicki Kennedy, the senator’s wife, recalled recently. “But Tom was totally unflappable. He just had the caterers serving hors d’oeuvres out front.” Full story

September 23, 2014

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.

While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.

Full story

August 27, 2014

Top 4 Races to Watch in the Mountain Region

Cory Gardner

Gardner hopes to unseat Udall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There are a lot of wide open spaces in the Rocky Mountain West — but few competitive races.

Despite a dearth of important contests, the races to watch here could be good indicators of which party has the upper hand in the fall.

Three races dropped from our Top 5 list since last summer. Idaho’s 2nd District is no longer worth watching after Rep. Mike Simpson defeated attorney Bryan Smith in the Republican primary. The Montana Senate race is now a likely GOP takeover after appointed Sen. John Walsh faced plagiarism charges and dropped out of the race. And Utah’s 4th District is all-but-over since Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson chose retirement over another competitive race with Republican Mia Love. Full story

August 7, 2014

Rating Change: Montana Senate

The Senate race in Montana continues to slip away from the Democrats. Burdened by plagiarism allegations, appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh announced Thursday he will not seek election to a full term in November.

Full story

July 24, 2014

Ratings Change: Montana Senate

Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

John Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Roll Call was preparing to post my column yesterday on the Montana Senate race and recent Democratic polls showing the contest “closing,” a report surfaced in the New York Times about appointed Senator John Walsh’s plagiarism in his master’s thesis.

The Walsh story is a huge one and undoubtedly affects the Democrat’s already uphill bid. Full story

By Stuart Rothenberg Posted at 12:44 p.m.
Montana, Senate

July 23, 2014

Montana Senate: A Real Race or Simply Manufactured Buzz?


Walsh, left, was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Walsh, left, was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Maybe you believe in coincidences. I usually do — but not four months from an election.

Almost simultaneously, two different memos appeared from Democratic pollsters insisting the Montana Senate race has closed and the outcome of the contest is very much in doubt.

One memo, by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, meets existing standards of transparency and while I have issues with the firm’s conclusions, I was happy with the way the data were presented.

The other memo, by widely respected, Colorado-based Harstad Strategic Research, was dreadful and little more than spin. It fails to meet the minimum standards of disclosure about polls, and devoted more time to promoting the firm’s candidate, appointed Sen. John Walsh, and vilifying Republicans (and the media), than discussing data. Full story

July 11, 2014

Imperfect People Get Elected to the Senate

Elizabeth Warren is a senator from Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Warren is a Democrat from Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the heat of the campaign, it can be easy to disqualify or dismiss candidates based on unsettling, or sometimes unseemly, revelations. But all you have to do is look at the current lineup of senators to realize that imperfect people win elections.

Connecticut is a great place to start.

In 2010, The New York Times pointed out inconsistencies between Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s rhetoric and his military service during the Vietnam era. It became a major issue in the campaign, but Blumenthal prevailed, 55 percent to 43 percent, over former wrestling executive Linda McMahon. Full story

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

December 19, 2013

The Democratic Escape Plan in Montana

Baucus is retiring. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Baucus is retiring. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most handicappers have believed for months that Republicans have a good chance to pick up a Montana Senate seat next year. But once again, Democrats have a plan that just may help them hold that seat. It’s a plan that worked in the past, but will it work once again?

According to multiple media reports, President Barack Obama is set to appoint Democratic Sen. Max Baucus as the next ambassador to China. If Baucus is confirmed and vacates his seat, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock will get to appoint his successor until the November 2014 elections. Full story

October 28, 2013

6 Democratic House Candidates With Plenty of Potential

Erin Bilbray

Bilbray will try to unseat Heck in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In this political environment, not having an extensive legislative record can be an asset. Not surprisingly then, three of six Democratic House candidates I interviewed recently have never before sought elective office, and a fourth was elected as a judge, not a legislator. (I will discuss a seventh Democratic hopeful, Martha Robertson, in a separate column.)

Considered as a group, the half-dozen hopefuls deserve to be mentioned in any discussion of Democratic House takeover opportunities in 2014. The only question is how many of them will continue to be in the conversation one year from today. Full story

October 11, 2013

Can John Lewis Break Democrats’ Losing Streak in Montana?

While Democrats have controlled both Montana Senate seats since Jon Tester’s initial victory in 2006, and the party has had no trouble winning the governorship, the state’s at-large House district has been much more elusive. John Lewis hopes to break the streak.

No, it’s not that John Lewis you’re thinking of.

This one is a 35-year-old Democrat who spent a dozen years working for Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. Baucus is retiring next year and the state’s lone House representative, Republican Steve Daines, is expected to run to succeed him. Meanwhile, Lewis is the lone Democrat in the race to replace Daines. His journey won’t be easy.

Democrats haven’t won a House race in Montana since 1994 when incumbent Rep. Pat Williams won re-election with 48.7 percent. The seat has been open three times in the past two decades (1996, 2000 and 2012). Republicans won each of those contests but with 52 percent twice and 53 percent last year.

Since Daines hasn’t officially announced his intentions, the Republican field is still developing. But state Sen. Matt Rosendale, state Rep. Champ Edmunds and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton are expected to run.

Recent history is working against Lewis. But he should have no trouble raising money and putting together a quality field operation from his connections to former Baucus aides, including Jim Messina. Lewis should be taken seriously.

Montana’s at-large district is now rated Republican Favored (from Safe Republican) according to Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

August 13, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Montana Senate

Daines is seriously considering a bid for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Daines is seriously considering a bid for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A month ago, Stuart Rothenberg made the case for why the Montana Senate seat remained a pure tossup. But now that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is not running on the Democratic side, and Rep. Steve Daines is likely to run on the GOP side, Republicans should start this open seat race with a very narrow advantage.

First, a quick look back at Rothenberg’s description of the political landscape in Big Sky Country: Full story

July 15, 2013

Montana Senate Rating: Move or Reaffirm?

Since Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced he would not seek re-election in late April, we have rated the Montana Senate race as a Pure Tossup — a reflection of our uncertainty about the Democratic candidacy of former Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Yes, Schweitzer has always seemed ambitious. And yes, he has never passed up an opportunity for self-promotion. But questions about his future business interests caused us to be cautious about the race, so we parked it in the Tossup category. Full story

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