National Democrats knew long ago that 2014’s political landscape in Montana was not going to be favorable to even a relatively conservative Democrat.
Fully aware that former Sen. Max Baucus faced an uphill battle in any bid for reelection, he was removed from the electoral equation when President Barack Obama appointed him America’s next ambassador to China. The state’s Democratic governor appointed John Walsh, a figure many believed would be a more electable candidate, to serve as Baucus’s replacement.
Walsh was an Iraq War veteran and a 33-year member of the Montana Army National Guard. A Bronze Star Medal recipient, Walsh had what most believed was a sterling record of achievement and deep ties to his state. Walsh’s record as a serviceman, his conservative values, and his incumbent status led many Democrats to believe that Montana might serve as a firewall that could prevent Republicans from taking control of the upper chamber of Congress.
When it was revealed in The New York Times that Walsh had plagiarized the majority of his Army War College thesis, the appointed Democratic incumbent’s biggest asset – his military record — became his greatest liability. Within days, Walsh announced that he would not be on the ballot in the race for U.S. Senate in November.
Big Sky Country Democrats scrambled to replace Walsh and, in a rare eventuality, the state’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was actually chosen at the state’s nominating convention. The vote was not even close. State Rep. Amanda Curtis was selected to represent the president’s party in Montana at the top of the ticket in November, and no one was happier about this development than Republicans.
The Montana GOP has assembled some of the greatest hits from Curtis’s video blog which suggests that Democrats have made a huge mistake.
In this video, Curtis mocks gun ownership, religion, family values, concern over the $17.6 trillion national debt, and self-identifies as an anarchist. Montana most certainly has a historic blue streak, but Curtis is a candidate so openly left-wing that she would have trouble winning a statewide race – much less the Democratic Party’s nomination — in even traditionally blue states.
There is every reason to believe that Montana was not going to be competitive for Democrats this cycle, but a state with two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor is a state Republicans have to fight for. The GOP will still have to campaign hard in Montana, but Rep. Steve Daines, the Republican Party’s nominee for Senate, will no doubt have a much easier time of 2014 than it appeared he would early on in this cycle.