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For Ambitious Montana Politicians, the Time Is Now

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
There hasn’t been an open Senate seat alongside an open House seat in Montana since Baucus ascended in 1978.

State Sen. Jon Sonju appeared to be the most formidable challenger until recently. He suddenly dropped out of the race just a few weeks after telling the Billings Gazette “I’m all in.” Sonju cited family reasons.

“Tall, handsome, young, businessman, legislator,” one Republican strategist gushed. “No one knows why he dropped out.”

Many of these Republicans would consider a Senate bid if Daines decided against running — but Republicans cautioned that is highly unlikely.

Democrats argue a crowded GOP field will work in their favor in 2014.

“I would call it ‘The Three Stooges’ if there weren’t five to seven of them,” said John Bacino, chief of strategy for the Montana Democrats.

Among the GOP candidates, Greenwood acknowledged the weakness for most of them is a lack of name recognition. Still, Greenwood said the same was true for Democrats, explaining that multiple state-level Democratic politicians are sitting this cycle out, including Juneau, Lindeen and McCulloch.

A Republican strategist said the mayors of Montana’s biggest cities — Republican Tom Hanel of Billings and Democrat John Engen of Missoula — could eventually run for higher office.

Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

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