Sabatos Crystal Ball

Montana Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Outlook: Solid Democratic

June 4, 2008 Update:

Attorney Bob Kelleher emerged from the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Max Baucus. Kelleher, who is 85 years old and has run for office in Montana 15 times, shouldn’t be much of a bother to Baucus, who will dominate in both name recognition and all financial aspects of the campaign. This will be a hold for the Democrats, as they work toward expanding their narrow lead in the Senate.

March 25, 2008 Update:

Technically, there are six Republicans running against Democratic incumbent Max Baucus. If you didn’t know that, don’t worry, Baucus probably didn’t either. None of the candidates can pose any sort of threat to the four-term incumbent, or at least nothing that will amount to more than a nuisance. Baucus has strong fundraising numbers, and job approval ratings near 70 percent. Add those ingredients to the lack of quality opposition, and Baucus finds himself with a recipe for electoral success come November.


With Republican Representative Denny Rheberg officially announcing that he will not run in Montana’s 2008 Senatorial race, it appears that we will see little electoral excitement under the Big Sky State, next year. With recent approval ratings nearing 70 percent or more, five successful terms as Senator and $6.1million in campaign funds, Max Baucus looks to be a sure thing.

Though Representative Rheberg has decided not to run, one challenger remains: Montana state legislator Michael Lange. However, the scandal-tinged Lange appears to be more of an annoying fruit fly than a killer bee. The once promising Lange would have given Baucus a tough fight had he not been removed from his position as Montana House majority leader after a vulgar rant against Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer. With not even his full party backing him, Lange appears to be a long shot.

Though early on many pundits saw Montana as a key battleground state in 2008, for now it seems that with no strong challengers to the mighty Baucus, this race will go to the incumbent once again.


Bob Kelleher – Republican – attorney and perennial candidate

Max Baucus (I) – Democrat – current U.S. Senator