Max Baucus must be chuckling to himself. As the leading man of the Montana Democratic Party, with a multi-million dollar campaign war chest, and the title of Chairman of the Most Powerful Committee in the History of the American Congress (at least it seems that way sometimes) he must look at the roster of Republicans lining up for the June primary and think, “This is too easy.”
State Rep. Mike Lange of Billings, the only recognizable GOP hopeful so far, gave Baucus a ready-made television spot with the now-legendary obscenity-laced end-of-the-session rant in the House Republican Caucus last April. Six years ago, the Baucus campaign drove Mike Taylor right out of the race with footage Taylor probably thought he never would see again. This time, the Senator’s opposition research guys only have to go to YouTube to get Lange’s most embarrassing moment.
Meanwhile, the other three announced GOP candidates are political unknowns from the small business community, including the latest entrant, Missoula small business accountant Patty Lovaas. I spoke with her Thursday about why she’s running. “I don’t like what I see going on,” she said, pointing to concerns over small business, taxes, and the amount of money “out of state special interests” have contributed to the Baucus campaign.
Her written statement, which she intends to release when she files on St. Patrick’s Day, finishes with the following message for Baucus: “You have become a victim of the ‘political machine,’ she writes. “You have been bought by special interest groups and have lost sight of what and who you are representing. My message to you is Montana is not for sale.”
Having unknowns try to jump from private business into high office in Montana’s isn’t unusual. Over the years, I’ve found some of them to be interesting and engaging people. And frankly, I’ll take the “citizen candidate” to the Stan Jones “perpetual candidate” any day.