Gov. Steve Bullock (D) filed to challenge Sen. Steve Daines (R) on the final day of the candidate qualifying (March 9) and is already in a dead heat race with the incumbent according to the first published poll of the new contest. Public Policy Polling, surveying for the progressive left group, End Citizens United (3/12-13; 903 MT registered voters) finds the two statewide elected officials tied at 47% apiece. Sen. Daines has a favorability ratio of 45:42% favorable to unfavorable, while Gov. Bullock’s numbers are a slightly better 49:40%. Consistent with the others, President Trump’s job approval is 50:46%.
The Public Policy Polling approval numbers always skew toward the negative. Therefore, it is safe to assume that all three men have a better image than this poll suggests. Clearly, the Democrats have their strongest candidate to challenge Sen. Daines, and this will now be a competitive race. It is likely the state will swing Republican as the election draws closer, but we can expect a very active general election campaign in Big Sky Country.
The Public Policy Polling survey mentioned above (see MT-Senate) also tested the open at-large congressional district that most likely will feature State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D). Both have partisan primaries to be decided on June 2nd, but each is expected to become the respective standard bearer. The PPP numbers find Mr. Rosendale and Ms. Williams to be locked in a toss-up open seat campaign. According to the poll results, the two are deadlocked at 45% apiece.
Both Mr. Rosendale and Ms. Williams were in competitive 2018 races. The former lost to Sen. Jon Tester (D), 50-47%, while Ms. Williams fell to at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) 51-46%. This year, Mr. Gianforte is running for Governor, hence the congressional seat becoming an open race.
The field is set for the June 2nd Montana Republican and Democratic primaries for the state’s lone congressional seat. State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), who has run for a different office in every election of the current decade, looks to be the man to beat for the nomination after running a respectable effort against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester (losing 50-47%) in the 2018 general election. He has a wide lead in campaign resources over Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, President Trump’s endorsement, and support from the Club for Growth organization. Four other Republicans, including former Montana Republican Party chair and ex-state legislator Debra Lamm, are also on the ballot.
For the Democrats, 2018 nominee Kathleen Williams, a former state legislator who held incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) to a 51-46% victory, returns for another attempt. State Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) opposes her for the party nomination.
A competitive general election is forecast. This is likely the last at-large congressional race to be run in Montana. The state looks to gain a second seat in the coming reapportionment.
The state candidate filing deadline yields two competitive gubernatorial primary battles. For the Republicans, at-large US Representative and former gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte will battle Attorney General Tim Fox. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Whitney Williams, daughter of former US Rep. Pat Williams, will oppose each other to advance into the general election. We can expect strong contests in both primaries, and what should be a close general election irrespective of who wins both nomination campaigns.
With the state candidate filing period closing yesterday, outgoing Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who repeatedly said he would not challenge Sen. Steve Daines (R), reversed course as many predicted and filed to run.
With Sen. Daines scoring a 58-40% victory in 2014 and President Trump racking up a big 56-36% win here in 2016, Gov. Bullock, despite winning two terms as the state’s chief executive, begins this race as the underdog. Still, the Democrats have successfully transformed what was an easy re-election ride for Sen. Daines into a highly competitive battle.
For months, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) repeatedly stated he has no interest in running for the Senate, but apparently his position has changed. Gov. Bullock launched an ill-fated presidential campaign, and since its collapse Democratic officials including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been attempting to recruit him to oppose first-term Sen. Steve Daines (R). Numerous media outlets are reporting that Bullock will announce his Senate bid on Monday, the deadline for candidate filing in Montana.
Though Gov. Bullock is the best candidate the Democrats could recruit, Sen. Daines is in strong political shape. An excellent campaigner with over $5 million in the bank at the end of last year, the Republican Senator is more than ready for the challenge.
The US Census Bureau officers released their latest population projections in order to measure national population growth for the period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. The results find the national rate of growth slowing to 0.5%, mostly as a result of decreased immigration. The peak period for the decade came during the July 1, 2014 – July 1, 2015 period when the growth rate registered 0.73%.
With these numbers come the ability to project which states will gain and lose congressional seats in 2020 reapportionment. The national reapportionment will be calculated and announced after the 2020 census is completed. The states will receive their congressional seat quota a year from now, with a release typically coming during the period between Christmas and New Year’s.
If current projections prove correct, Texas looks to gain three seats, Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each slated to gain one. The losing states look to be Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
If these projections prove true, California will lose a seat for the first time in history. It’s also realistic that the actual totals could yield a two-seat loss for Illinois or New York, and possibly both. Right now, it appears ten congressional seats will change states, but that number could grow. Usually, the actual numbers tend to differ slightly from the early published projections.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who is running an uphill race in the Democratic presidential contest, said in an interview on Fox News that he will “help whoever challenges Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), but it won’t be me.” Democratic Party leaders have been attempting to recruit Gov. Bullock into the Senate race and away from his presidential quest, in similar fashion to their strategy with now ex-presidential candidate John Hickenlooper in Colorado. But, so far, Gov. Bullock is not budging nor giving any indication that he will switch to the Senate race. Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, author Jack Ballard, and Navy veteran John Mues are the three announced Democratic candidates.
At-large Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) just publicized an internal Moore Information Republican primary poll (methodology statistics not released) that posts him to a large lead over his Republican primary opponents, Attorney General Tim Fox and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell). According to the MI results, Mr. Gianforte’s margin is 56-17-5% over his two rivals, respectively.
Before winning a 2017 special at-large congressional election and a full term last November, Rep. Gianforte was the 2016 Republican gubernatorial nominee losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%.
As has been expected for some time, Montana Lt. Governor Mike Cooney (D), who was appointed in January of 2016 to replace his resigned predecessor and will serve the entire second term under Governor and now Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock, announced that he will run to attempt to succeed his boss. Also in the Democratic primary are state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) and former state Rep. Reilly Neill. Republicans are featuring a major primary battle between Attorney General Tim Fox and at-large US Representative and 2016 gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman).
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