Our man, Bob

Many might wonder if Montanans are voting for the Senate this year. Well, yes, we are but you would never know it. Max Baucus, the tenth-longest serving Senator, is up for re-election and the Republican Party has a candidate. Does anyone know who he is?

But, of course, we do know who he is. Bob Kelleher has run fourteen times for elected office and lost nearly every time.  An inveterate gadfly, Kelleher has run on the Democratic ticket, the Green Party ticket, and is generally thought of as a progressive candidate. In the 2008 Montana U.S. Senator Republican primary election, however, Bob won 36% of the public vote well ahead of his nearest challenger who got 23%.

So, as another sign that the Montana Republican Party can’t quite get their act together, there’s a non-Republican sitting atop the Montana Republican ticket.  There is a link from the MT GOP website, but not a lot of attention drawn to his candidacy.

I don’t blame them. Kelleher’s vision is to “restore voter trust in government,” “to work toward a more accountable Federal Government,” and in Iraq, to have “all U.S. troops out by Feb. 1, 2009!”    These are hardly core Republican stances.

Now, I’m not a huge Baucus fan. A slippery piece of work, at the best of times. But, Max is smart and Max has a good team. You don’t get to be chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance for no reason. He is a man of influence, albeit far distant from his Montanan roots. 91% of his re-election funds come from out of state. Max is hard to beat in the best of times, and has never really been seriously challenged since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974. Denny Rehberg, our other safe federal representative, probably came closest in his 1996 run for the Senate when Denny got 45% of the vote to Max’s successful 49.5%.

It’s understandable, then, why the Republicans aren’t spending huge amounts of money on Kelleher’s campaign. But, to effectively ignore his campaign not only hands Max his re-election on a silver platter, but ignores the value of a vigorous and spirited debate. The proud citizens choose Kelleher as the Republican candidate for a reason, and perhaps the GOP leadership could listen carefully to what they might have been saying. It might be hard to rally around our man, Bob, but doesn’t the Party owe him a bit more coverage?

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