The first rumors of a GOP challenger to powerful incumbent Montana Sen. Max Baucus started swirling last month.
Chuck Johnson reported in January that second-term state Rep. Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula, was considering throwing his hat in the ring. At the time, Edmunds was coy but noncommittal about his interest in the race:
“We’re doing some exploratory work, but right now, we need to focus on this session,” Edmunds said in January. “We’re not running. We’re exploring.“
Well apparently Edmunds doing a bit more than exploring.
In an email blast sent late last night or early this morning with the subject line “Getting Washington Back to Basics...,” Edmunds effectively announced his intentions to run for the U.S. Senate (emphases not mine):
You may have read that Karl Rove is trying to suppress grass roots conservatives in the next election cycle. But there's good news! Here in Montana, we have a choice between a party establishment-backed candidate, and an authentic conservative.
My name is Champ Edmunds, and I would like to be your next U.S. Senator.
I have not officially announced because I am working on behalf of my constituents in the Montana House, but conservatives must start working now if we are going to win in 2014!
Today, the Washington Post called me "very conservative across the board," and said the party establishment would prefer a different candidate for U.S. Senate.
I bet they would! No way am I going to go along to get along. No way am I going to cave on issues like raising taxes. No way am I going to let the system change me.
That makes me the kind of candidate the establishment fears.
If you want to support a real conservative for U.S. Senate, please go to www.champforsenate.com and make the most generous donation you can. Even $5 will help. Together we can get Washington D.C. back to basics!
Then, go have a look at what the Washington Post said. They meant it as an insult, but I consider it very flattering. "Very conservative across the board" -- that's me.
P.S. This Washington Post article just came out today! We have to respond immediately. Please go to www.champforsenate.com and make any financial contribution that will fit within your budget.
P.S.S. Also, join me on facebook!
A Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog on Thursday listed Edmunds among the “Six Senate candidates who could foment GOP civil war.” According to The Fix:
The least-known name on this list is one to keep an eye on. The GOP field to face Sen. Max Baucus (D) is expected to be a crowded one, and Edmunds has already signaled his interest and has reserved the champforsenate.com Web domain, where he’s accepting donations. He’s very conservative across the board, including spearheading efforts on illegal immigration, fighting against same-day voter registration and criticizing a Justice Department probe into sexual assault allegations in Missoula. Edmunds is the kind of outspoken conservative who is happy to take on basically any conservative cause and happy to speak bluntly about it. That’s not terribly helpful in a Senate campaign, though. Establishment Republicans would much prefer someone like former state senator Corey Stapleton, who announced his campaign this week.
In a one-minute internet ad announcing his candidacy Stapleton said he has the “leadership” and “integrity” to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate.
“I want to make life better for Montanans — for all of us, our kids, our grandkids. And that’s why I’m running for the United States Senate.”
Think its a little early for a 2014 election cycle? Think again folks. We’re already off to the races.
Not that Baucus needs a lot of outside help. The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee already had $3.6 million in cash on hand at the end of the last reporting period. By the time Baucus’ campaign closes the books on the first quarter of 2013 on March 31 his campaign will likely have close to $4.3 million or more in his war chest.
Republicans are going to have a big hill to climb to unseat Baucus, who hasn’t had a legitimate GOP challenge since1996, when Denny Rehberg came within 5 percentage points.
Some observers think the only real threat to Baucus would come from a Democratic primary challenger. Former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s name has been bandied about for years, but Schweitzer insists he’s not interested.
Last fall I asked Schweitzer about whether he’d consider challenging Baucus, to which Schweitzer responded:
“I can't even imagine being in a body that spends all of its time masquerading like they're actually doing something.”
Whether we like it or not, the 2014 election cycle is already upon us.