Skip to comments.Burns Out/Rehberg In? (potentially vulnerable GOP Senator may retire)
Posted on 01/10/2006 7:03:58 AM PST by AuH2ORepublican
Burns Out/Rehberg In?
Considering the fact that Sen. Conrad Burns from Montana was below 50% in the pre-Abramoff "I'm guilty" ballot question, word is now spreading like wildfire inside Washington, DC that Burns will soon announce his retirement.
A source on Capitol Hill tells me that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is polling feverishly to see if the Senate seat is salvagable should Burns seek re-election. The prognosis, I am told, is not good.
Enter Congressman Denny Rehberg, Montana's wildly popular At-Large member of Congress. Rehberg briefly flirted with the idea of running against Max Baucus in 2002, but decided against it at the last minute (Baucus easily won re-election.)
Insiders tell me that Rehberg would be a strong candidate for an open seat and is beginning to be recruited heavily by members of the Upper Chamber and even the White House.
Stay tuned ...
Senator Conrad Burns of Montana has not been polling very well of late, and appears to have been hurt seriously by the Jack Abramoff scandal (Burns was perhaps the biggest benefactor of campaign contributions from Abramoff-affiliated groups and Abramoff clients). Senator Burns's seat is up in 2006, and Democrats believe that they will be able to defeat him in November. While I still think that Senator Burns would get reelected, there is no reason why we should have to fight to retain a Senate seat in a state where President Bush got 59% in 2004. Thus, I would prefer that Senator Burns would forego reelection and that Congressman Denny Rehberg, a solid conservative who is very popular among Montana voters, ran for the Senate.
Having the relatively young Rehberg (I think he's 51) run for the Senate would not only ensure that we'll hold the Senate seat in 2006, it would also greatly improve our chances of holding the seat in 2012, the year in which Democrat Brian Schweitzer will be completing his second and final term as governor (assuming that he wins reelection in 2008, which is a contingency against which we should be prepared), and if the Republican incumbent Senator is a 77-year-old Conrad Burns it would give the Democrats a golden opportunity of capturing the seat. However, if Denny Rehberg is the incumbent Senator, I don't think Schweitzer would waste his time running for the Senate that year.
So Congressman Rehberg would be our best choice for the Senate both in the short- and long-term. I hope Senator Burns belatedly keeps the promise he made in 1988 to go home after one term.
I agree that Burns is highly vulnerable, but isn't he known for his personal stubbornness? I suspect that he does not want to bow out, but he might if he is convinced that he cannot win. Republican senators in MT have been a real rarity since statehood.
Burns was seeking his second term 12 years ago, and voters approved of his job performance.
The article overstates its case when it describes Rehberg as "wildly popular", but you're on the money when you say he's the best candidate available. He would definitely be the favorite against John Morrison (the likely Dem. nominee).
And how's this for a senario: ex-Gov. Marc Racicot runs for the House to succeed Rehberg, then challenges Max Baucus in 2010?
Racicot could have challenged Baucus in 2002 but declined.
I just checked the statistics and found that MT has had a total of eight Republican senators in its history. But there have been only TWO Republican senators from the state since 1913, Zales Ecton and Conrad Burns.
Racicot wouldn't run for the House for all the tea in China. If he was "too good" to run for the Senate in 2002 (when he would have trounced Baucus), why would he run for a 2-year term to be one of 435?
Hopefully Racicot will reconsider and run against Baucus in 2008 (which is when the seat comes up), but the GOP would need another candidate to run for the House.
As for exactly how popular Rehberg is, I think you're right that "wildly popular" is a bit hyperbolic, but Rehberg has gotten over 60% in his House reelection races. Unless a higher-profile Democrat runs, Rehberg will win the Senate race.
"I just checked the statistics and found that MT has had a total of eight Republican senators in its history. But there have been only TWO Republican senators from the state since 1913, Zales Ecton and Conrad Burns."
I never say never regarding anything these days. Of course, Clinton received a paltry 38% of the vote 4 years later -- and won the state because Bush, Sr. dropped his performance from 52% to 35%. Perot received 26%. It was one of the few (only ?) states where you saw practically a 3-way split of the vote.
Yeah, Racicot is not going to run for the House seat, period. In fact, if Rehberg vacates the seat to run for the Senate, we may have considerable difficulty holding the House seat because we have no one warming up in the bullpen. I heard some vague rumors about ex-Congressman Rick Hill making a comeback (he was forced into retirement when he was quickly facing the prospect of losing his eyesight), since apparently his health problems were corrected (I could be wrong, but that's what I heard).
The only other GOP statewide officeholder is the Secretary of State, Brad Johnson, and I don't know if he'd be anxious to jump into an open-seat House race.
Former Lt Gov Karl Ohs (the current state party chair) might also be a decent candidate.
He was great on "Diff'rent Strokes". A good role model to Todd and Gary. He also told it like it was to Maude. But couldn't he have done more for Dana Plato?
Maine had even more of a three-way race in 1992: Clinton got 38.77%, to 30.44% for Perot and 30.39% for Bush.
Montana's performance in 1992 was very similar to Nevada's, where Clinton got 37.36% to Bush's 34.73% and Perot's 26.19%.
Had Perot not been on the ballot in 1992, I estimate that Bush would have carried Montana by 52.7% to 45.4% and Nevada by 50.9% to 46.5%, while Maine would have been too close to call.
Well, he was born a man of means, but then along came two that had nothin' but their jeans, and that's when he learned what it takes to move the world.
But you'd think he would have done something to keep Gordon Jump from molesting poor Dudley.
I agree. 1988 was pretty much the union Democrats' last hurrah, allowing Dukakis to carry WV, Western PA and Eastern OH and doing well in MT and SD despite his extremely liberal social views. It would take a very different Democrat Party to win back those areas.
I think the assumption for '92 is that if Perot had been out for good, that most would've voted for Bush, Sr. (since it is apparent that Clinton, in a lot of instances, only held roughly the same, sometimes less, sometimes more, of Dukakis's voters), but I still think in a head-to-head matchup, Clinton probably would've eked out a win (because a lot of the Perot voters either would've stayed home or voted for Clinton in protest).
I think half the Perot voters would have stayed home had he not been on the ballot (which would have resulted in a percentage turnout similar to 1988), but the Perot voters who would have voted would have preferred Bush over Clinton by around 2:1, which would mean that the national popular vote would be around 49.5% each. That would result in Bush picking up at least GA, MT, CO, NH, OH, NV, WI, NJ (not a typo) and KY, with IA, CT and ME too close to call; for Bush to have won, he would have had to carry both IA and CT.
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