MT Senate: Tester likely to gain a strong GOP contender
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) could have a tough race on his hands in 2012 as he has largely backed President Barack Obama’s agenda, including ObamaCare. Sensing that vulnerability, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is taking steps to make a bid for against the state’s junior Senator:
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) will announce Saturday he is challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
“It’s happening Saturday,” said a knowledgeable Montana GOP political operative. “He’s running. There is a lot of support and enthusiasm back home, and Denny knows he can win.”
Rehberg’s status as a well-known at-large Congressman immediately pushes the matchup between the two Big Sky State politicians to among the most competitive Senate races in the country. Recent polling conducted for the Rehberg campaign bears that out.
An internal poll is also cited showing Rehberg with a small lead, though Schweitzer’s name being mentioned as a possible candidate seems sort of odd (I haven’t read anything where a Senate run was even discussed):
The Opinion Diagnostics survey of 400 likely Montana voters showed 49 percent backing Rehberg compared with 43 percent for Tester and 8 percent undecided. In a three-way matchup featuring Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer running as an independent, Rehberg led 44 percent to Tester’s 28 percent and Schweitzer’s 18 percent. Eleven percent were undecided.
Republican At-Large Rep. Dennis Rehberg is slated to announce Saturday that he will challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester next year, according to a report in Roll Call and confirmed by a Republican who served in the House with Rehberg and who has spoken to him about the race in recent weeks. Rehberg’s entry vaults this contest that had been in the Likely Democratic column to Toss Up, bringing the total number of Democratic-held seats in that column to five.
A poll from Public Policy Polling, a decidedly Democratic firm, shows Tester within the margin of error, trailing Rehberg 48% to 46%.