By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
HELENA – Somewhere in a lab hidden deep in the bowels of the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, political guru Larry Sabato’s crystal ball bubbles with delight, eagerly prognosticating how the U.S. Senate might look after the 2014 general election.
Sabato’s tiny orb of political wonder says one of Montana’s U.S. Senate seats could become a little younger and a little wilder, but still remain in the blue column.
While term-limited Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a rowdy sideshow of a man, swore off a Senate or House bid a few weeks back, his jumping into the 2014 race to present a primary challenger to Democratic incumbent Max Baucus wouldn’t surprise Sabato one lick.
“Outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) says he’s not ‘senile enough’ to serve in the U.S. Senate, but we wouldn’t be shocked if, even after that memorable quip from the highly quotable governor, Schweitzer decided to challenge Sen. Max Baucus (D) in a primary,” Sabato wrote earlier this week.
Sabato also suggests Baucus might simply slip quietly into retirement after 36 years in the upper congressional chamber. The pundit says Republicans will “make a play” for the seat, though he advises GOP Congressman-elect Steve Daines to stay out of the fray, lest he suffer a devastating defeat trying to enhance his career.
Daines originally declared for the U.S. Senate opposite Sen. Jon Tester in 2011, but outgoing U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg muscled in and stole the show. Daines then opted to replace Rebherg as Montana’s lone voice in the House.
Other rumors swirl about state Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, stepping up to battle the Democratic nominee in 2014, but he denies interest.
Montana Republican Party officials say several GOP state lawmakers want a chance to duke it out with Baucus – or Schweitzer.
Contact: [email protected] or @DustinHurst via Twitter.
Edited by Kelly Carson, [email protected]