Rep. Steve Daines, one of the last remaining 2014 Senate recruit holdouts, is expected to announce his decision by the end of this year, according to a Montana Republican source familiar with his thinking.
To this point, Daines has refused to offer a timeline for a decision about whether to seek the Big Sky State's open Senate seat, a top GOP pickup opportunity. He's also noted that Montana voters want a shortened election season after a nearly two-year battle last cycle.
Daines reiterated both points in an Oct. 17 interview with Montana Public Radio, and he even seemed to indicate that he wouldn't make an announcement until the new year. But the GOP source said that an announcement should come this quarter.
"2014 is going to be long enough to have campaigns and have spirited debates about the next election," Daines said in the radio interview. "We’ll get something sorted out here, but I don’t want to see these campaigns starting so soon. Let’s wait until the year of the election, and let's stay focused on the current issues today."
Daines' reasoning didn't hold water for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Montana Democratic Party, which both accused the congressman Wednesday of delaying the decision as a result of the government shutdown. Republicans took a hit in national polls in the wake of the recently ended showdown on Capitol Hill.
Whether he's officially in or not, Daines is already raising money like a Senate candidate, bringing in $643,000 in the third quarter and ending September with more than $1.1 million in cash on hand. He's accepted checks from top Republican senators eager to pick up the seat and
, bringing in $643,000 in the third quarter and ending September with more than $1.1 million in cash on hand. He's accepted checks from top Republican senators eager to pick up the seat and appeared at an American Crossroads event earlier this month with other Senate candidates.
The freshman lawmaker has been expected for months to eventually launch a campaign. There is even a crowded GOP primary shaping up to replace him in the House.
The race's delayed start already stands in stark contrast to the 2012 race, which featured a TV ad war a year out from the election. Last cycle, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg announced his challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in February 2011. As a result, Daines dropped his Senate campaign to run for Rehberg's seat.
Looking to hold the seat of retiring Sen. Max Baucus, the DSCC recruited Lt. Gov. John Walsh to the race earlier this month.
The race is rated Toss-up/Tilt Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.