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HomeNewsPoliticsFmr. MT Gov. Brian Schweitzer Not Running In Senate Race Puts GOP In Game

Fmr. MT Gov. Brian Schweitzer Not Running In Senate Race Puts GOP In Game

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has shockingly decided not to run for Senate in 2014 to replace retiring Democratic Senator Max Baucus. There is no doubt that this puts the GOP chances of taking back the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections at the informal rating – solid.

Prior to the recent news, I had taken a look at the Senate race map in total, and said the following regarding the Montana Senate race:

Montana: Crystal Ball wrote, “For a guy who supposedly hates Washington, D.C., ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) sure seems to be gearing up to run for the Senate in 2014.” Schweitzer said, “I haven’t told anyone I’m running for sure.” Reports have come out that he’s in the middle of a “charm offensive” to win support from in-state allies of retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D), which would seem to indicate that Schweitzer is fully committed to the race. His final decision on the contest matters a great deal to the many potential Republicans. Polling indicates that Schweitzer would be an early favorite (depending on the opponent) to keep Baucus’ seat in the Democratic column, so his decision could attract or repel many in the GOP. Well-known possible hopefuls such as Rep. Steve Daines (R), ex-Gov. Marc Racicot (R) and ex-Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), who lost to Sen. Jon Tester (D) in 2012, are anxiously awaiting Schweitzer’s decision. Tester would “bet the farm” on Schweitzer entering the contest. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and EMILY’s List Pres. Stephanie Schriock are other potential Democratic candidates. If Schweitzer runs, GOP big hitters like Daines and Racicot (who looks very unlikely to enter the race anyway) probably wouldn’t run; if Schweitzer doesn’t, the eventual Republican nominee will probably be favored in Big Sky Country. Everything rests on Schweitzer, who apparently loves the attention. TOSS-UP

Republicans need to pick up a net gain of 6 seats if they hope to regain control of the Senate, and we know as it stands now, they are certain to hold the House majority if they stay the course. Although only 3 Democratic incumbents lost their bid for reelection in the past decade, the political landscape in several key states has a real potential to change that statistic drastically. In addition to Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota are two open problematic seats for the Democrats.

Other GOP very real pickup opportunities come from four seats, all of which are held by Democratic incumbents running for reelection: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

To view details in all of the ratings state-by-state, click here.

Of the four states targeted with Democratic senators, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor looks to be one of the most vulnerable — especially if freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R) decides to run. Obama won just 37% of the vote in Arkansas in 2012, which is a massive hurdle for any Democrat, but even Mayor Bloomberg will be targeting Pryor. That may prove helpful, actually.

Of course, this assumes the GOP can hold the seat of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), the only Republican incumbent in any real political danger.

Nevertheless, I will update the Senate map when I see who it is that decides to step up to the plate, but for now, Montana seems to at least be leaning Republican. We shall soon see.

To view details in all of the ratings state-by-state, click here.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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