In New Mexico, most of the GOP primary drama will be centered on the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tom Udall. Unlike his brother in Colorado, this Udall has a greater chance of reelection. However, should these midterms be a decisive repudiation of the Democratic brand, then Udall is likewise vulnerable. On the GOP side, David Clements will face Allen Weh in the primary to take on Udall in November. On March 1st, Weh one the majority of votes in the GOP convention surprising everyone. Clements tends to represent the more libertarian wing of the GOP. Both have name recognition across the state. However, considering the fact that in 2010 Weh gave current Republican and popular governor Susana Martinez a good run for the GOP then and the fact that Weh has the resources to give Udall a good fight, the obvious choice is Allen Weh. While it may be true that a more libertarian candidate may resonate more with the electorate in a general election campaign, one has to think of this race in realistic terms. Unless something serious happens along the way, Udall will likely win although maybe not by a huge margin. Why not present a more stark option to Udall and let the chips fall where they may?
The only other GOP contested primary in New Mexico will be in the First District where Mike Frese will oppose Richard Priem for the right to take on Michelle Lujan-Grisham in November. This district is rated +7 Democratic by Cook although I think that is a little low. Still it is in reach. In that aforementioned convention, Frese received the majority of the votes of the delegates. I confess to not knowing enough about these candidates and therefore defer to the New Mexico Republican Party and on a de facto basis endorse Mike Frese.
In Montana, Max Baucus, the Democratic incumbent announced his retirement which somewhat surprised the Democratic Party. In a shrewd political move, Obama named him his nominee as Ambassador to China, thus speeding up the retirement process. As a result, Democratic governor Steve Bullock appointed John Walsh to replace Baucus for the remainder of his term. The hope is that Walsh can build up enough name recognition and a record of moderation in the current Senate so that voters in November will keep him in mind. Cook rates Montana +7 Republican. However, theirs is a more moderate brand of Republican and even at that, they are not averse to voting in Democrats to statewide office. Walsh will have his own primary to worry about.
On the GOP side, it was a foregone conclusion that current congressman-at-large Steve Daines would run for the Senate whether Baucus retired or not. Daines will face Susan Cundiff and state representative Champ Edmunds in the GOP primary. Against Walsh, assuming he prevails, Daines has polled consistently near that 50% ceiling and exceeded 50% in some polls. Edmunds, despite the conservative credentials in the state house, has polled not as well- likely a function of name recognition. Most polls show that ex-Lt Governor John Bohlinger would be the best candidate for the Democrats against any GOP candidate, but the Republican comes out the winner regardless.
Before my usual detractors here at Redstate come at me with their equally usual “there he goes with an establishment candidate” statements, or they refer me to the Club for Growth endorsement, ACU scorecard or the Madison Project, a special note. This writer cares a rat’s ass about the Club for Growth or any other group and who they support and who they criticize. Anyone who walks lockstep with the preferred candidates of any group without doing their own research is no better than the lemming-over-the-cliff voting pattern of your average liberal Democrat. I care more about maintaining control of the House and winning the Senate first, then conservative purity second. Perhaps that is why I made no mention of the primary in California’s 4th District since McClintock will advance, likely against Art Moore, another Republican. Doing the math, that district would remain in Republican hands with McClintock winning in November. Apparently that logic- absent any negative comment whatsoever against McClintock- was lost on some. These thoughts are based on my research and analysis against a background of political reality. It is why the word endorsement is placed in quotation marks. And yes, sometimes the preference comes down to the “establishment” candidate because they have a greater chance of actually WINNING in November. As for this writer being a follower of Boehner, please read my article on Ohio. The conservative puritan is nothing other than a whiner and wishful thinker without the reigns of power- constantly on the outside daydreaming of what might have been “if only.” It would be fantastic to have the most conservative candidate actually win a general election and go to Washington in every conceivable race. But I live in the real world, not a conservative Utopia. That is the difference- political reality versus some alter universe based on wishful thinking.
Hence, my endorsement would lie with Steve Daines.
With Daines stepping down from his House seat to seek the Senate seat, five Republican candidates have entered the primary. Assuming John Lewis is the Democratic candidate- although there is scant polling here- most polls indicate a Republican victory. The only difference is the degree of that victory. This is a Republican seat that needs to be held. All things considered, the most important being electability (yes- that term again, my detractors), this writer is going with ex-state senate minority leader Corey Stapleton. And his “ex” minority title should say it all. Some consider Montana an almost Republican given. It isn’t; do your research! Republicans hold only an 8-seat advantage in the Montana senate and there is an almost even split between parties in other elected offices. Because Montana went for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 is no reason whatsoever to believe that “the most conservative” Republican is guaranteed a win in 2014 for an open Democratic Senate seat.