Election Preview: Montana

The path to a Republican majority in the US Senate runs straight through Big Sky Country and the GOP is determined flip this seat from blue to red. They look set to nominate Montana’s sole representative in the House, which means a primary scramble for his replacement that will come to a head on June 3rd. Here’s the story:

Senator: Last year Senator Max Baucus (D) announced that he would not run for reelection, but it seemed that 2015 wasn’t soon enough for him to get out and earlier this year he was confirmed as the new US ambassador to China. The Governor of Montana, Democrat Steve Bullock, appointed Lieutenant Governor John Walsh (D), who was already running for the seat at the time Baucus left for China. Normally the added benefit of incumbency would be a great boost any candidate, but this is not the case here. Despite his appointment to the Senate, Walsh has continued to trail his main GOP rival, Rep. Steve Daines. And while both Daines and Walsh do face a contest primary on June 3rd, none of their opponents have amounted to any significant opposition and it is virtually assured these two will face each other in the November election. Factoring Daines’s lead in both fundraising and polling, this race is Likely Republican.

House:

MT-01: With Montana’s only congressman, Rep. Steve Daines (R), running for Senate the open seat election to replace has attracted many Republicans and few Democrats. On the GOP side we have former State Sen. Corey Stapleton, former State Sen. Ryan Zinke, State Sen. Matthew Rosendale, and State Rep. Elsie Arntzen. It’s really a toss-up as to which Republican will win the June 3rd primary, with Stapleton leading in the polls and Zinke ahead in fundraising. For the Democrats, the likely nominee is former Baucus aide John Lewis. Unfortunately for Lewis, this is a pretty secure seat for the GOP and considering the political environment we rate this race as Safe Republican.

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