Skip to comments.Democrat challenger holds slight lead in crucial Montana race for Senate (our last great hope)
Posted on 11/08/2006 7:37:28 AM PST by pissant
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Senator Conrad Burns and Democrat Jon Tester were locked in a tight contest early Wednesday as the Republican struggled to return to Washington for a fourth term.
Tester had a slight lead of less than 1,600 votes in one of two Senate races still undecided in Tuesday's midterm elections. The other was in Virginia. the Democrats must win both if they are to wrest control of the Senate from the Republicans.
With 99 per cent of precincts reported early Wednesday, Tester had 190,486 votes, or 48.9 per cent, and Burns had 188,900 votes, or 48.5 per cent.
A candidate in Montana can request a recount at his own expense if the margin is within half of a per cent, which would be roughly 2,000 votes. If the margin is less than one-quarter of a per cent, the state and counties pick up the tab.
Burns, 71, first elected in 1988 as a folksy, backslapping outsider, was under siege because of his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and because of his own gaffes - including an incident in which he cursed at firefighters.
Tester, the state senate president and a farmer, hammered Burns for his ties to Abramoff and what Tester called the "culture of corruption" in Washington. Burns was a top recipient of campaign contributions from Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to corruption. He has since returned or donated about US$150,000, and has maintained he did nothing wrong and was never influenced by Abramoff.
Tester resisted help from the national party, saying he wanted to run his campaign his way, out of Montana. He brought in few national party figures, instead relying on rallies with popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Senator Max Baucus.
Burns, meanwhile, was joined on the trail over the past few weeks by Republican luminaries, including President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Tester, 50, surprised many in the state when he beat a better-financed and better-known Democrat in the June primary.
This time around, it was Tester who portrayed himself as the Washington outsider - a western moderate Democrat who owns guns, opposes gay marriage and has a libertarian's suspicion of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.
"It really is proof positive that Montanans are ready for a change," told CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday while the race was still too narrow to call. "We need to take some Montana values back to Washington."
Tester stood out, with his scuffed cowboy boots and flat-top haircut. One of his hands lacks three fingers, lost long ago in an accident with a meat grinder.
Burns focused his campaign on his ability as a veteran senator to bring federal money to the state, and portrayed Tester as a liberal who wants to raise taxes and "cut and run" from Iraq.
Burns took heat after confronting members of a wildfire-fighting team at the Billings airport in late July and saying they had done a poor job, according to a state report and the U.S. Forest Service. The Hotshot crew had travelled from Virginia to help dig lines around a fire east of Billings.
How many absentees still need to be tallied?
This is closer than I had realized. 1600 is a lot of votes in MT, though.
I think it depends on the absentee ballots. Are these military people? Maybe Burns can make up ground.
"Can the old dinosaur pull it out??"
I don't think so.
How do you know that?
21k absentee ballots if info from other FR threads is correct.
"How many absentees still need to be tallied?"
Not likely. From conservative in nyc on the election thread:
Yellowstone County supposedly counted the absentee ballots before counting other ballots and is now 100% reporting per CNN. I'm not sure how it worked in other places, but unless Burns' people are correct, he ain't winning.
There also seems to be some turnout discrepancy in certain areas - Gallatin, Lake and Yellowstone Counties have higher turnout than in 2000, yet many other counties do not, and the vote tally statewide lags. Whether this is because they haven't counted absentees or simply because more people voted in those areas is not clear.
I've yo-yoed on this race all day - at one point, it looked impossible for Burns win. Then, the extrapolations were looking good. Now, it looks downright impossible that he'd win unless the absentee votes are actually out and are from Republican-leaning areas. I'm NOT optimistic.
"The House passed an Internet gambling ban earlier this summer, but the bill had difficulty moving in the Senate. However it was a priority of Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and attaching it to the popular port security bill appeared aimed at insuring its passage."
Thank you, Bill Frist.
I disagree. Bush was excellent on the stump and in his press conferences manhandling the pressitutes recently. Cheney and Rummy too, btw. But Frist? hastert? A slew of GOP candidates hiding from the Iraq war, unsure of how to "distance" themselves from the media created "quagmire". It was ugly.
President Bush fights more every day than you will in your entire life.
I don't know how I can put it any clearer.
Bill Frist is a snake-in-the-grass and I say "good riddance."
"He LETS the main stream media totally distort his message and says NOTHING about achievements in Iraq or anywhere else".
You nailed it my friend.
Well, that sounds less than encouraging. Say hello to Senate Majority Leader Reid. *uhg*
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