Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will kick off his re-election bid with $3.6 million in the bank, according to a copy of his fundraising report obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The Senate Finance Committee chairman raised $610,000 during the final three months of last year. His year-end report, which will be filed on the Jan. 31 deadline, showed he spent $121,500 during the same period.
Baucus' big number comes as welcome news for Democrats, who face a difficult map in 2014. The six-term senator represents one of seven seats up this cycle in a state that the president lost.
Democrats expect Baucus to have a competitive challenge next year; CQ Roll Call rates the Montana Senate race as Leans Democratic. In 2008, Baucus crushed his opponent with 73 percent of the vote, spending more than $11 million.
Baucus has been readying himself for the fight. His campaign aired radio advertisements for his re-election last April, before many competitive 2012 Senate candidates were on the air.
No well-known Republicans have announced their intention to challenge Baucus. But GOP operatives see Rep. Steve Daines, former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, and state Attorney General Tim Fox as viable potential candidates.