Report: Rehberg to challenge Tester

Posted by Skylar Browning on Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 12:30 AM

According to a report tonight from Roll Call, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg will announce Saturday he's challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. The paper, which covers Capitol Hill, says Rehberg will make the announcement at the Lincoln/Reagan Dinner in Helena.

From Roll Call:

“It’s happening Saturday,” said a knowledgeable Montana GOP political operative. “He’s running. There is a lot of support and enthusiasm back home, and Denny knows he can win.”

Also from Roll Call:

The operative offered some internal Rehberg polling numbers showing the Montana Republican in a statistical tie with Tester in a prospective 2012 matchup.

The Opinion Diagnostics survey of 400 likely Montana voters showed 49 percent backing Rehberg compared with 43 percent for Tester and 8 percent undecided. In a three-way matchup featuring Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer running as an independent, Rehberg led 44 percent to Tester’s 28 percent and Schweitzer’s 18 percent. Eleven percent were undecided.

The poll, conducted Jan. 5, has a margin of error of 4.65 percent.

The Montana Democratic Party quickly responded to the news.

"This is turning out to be one of the worst-kept secrets in Montana," said Ted Dick, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, in the release. "Despite his near-fatal boat accident with a drunk driver, his frivolous lawsuit against Montana firefighters, years of deficit spending and voting against Montana, and an embarrassing record of, well, nothing, Dennis Rehberg wants a new job. He's going to have a tough two years ahead of him explaining to Montanans why he deserves it."

It should be noted that Rehberg hasn't confirmed the Roll Call report. Although he has commented on the likelihood of running in recent weeks, and he certainly has the money for a Senate race.

Meanwhile, Roll Call says Steve Daines, the Republican businessman who previously announced his campaign against Tester, would switch to the House race on Thursday.

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