BOZEMAN – U.S Representative Steve Daines (R-MT) officially announced his bid for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
Daines, a freshman Representative, made his announcement in front of scores of supporters at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman just after noon, and is aiming to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).
Daines’ entry into the race presents Republicans with an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat – one of six they would need to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate.
During his announcement, Daines took aim at aspects of the federal government he said are too intrusive and too expensive for Montana – starting with the healthcare law known as Obamacare. He cited examples of what he said are 20,000 people who will lose their health care coverage despite promises from Obama that no one would lose their insurance.
“Obamacare is a failing law that Montanans don’t want and can not afford,” he said.
He called out the U.S. Senate and administration for what he called a “war on coal” and obstruction of the development of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The people of America fired Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010, he said. “It’s time we do the same thing to Harry Reid in 2014,” he said, referring to the Democratic Senate majority leader.
He touted his commitment to the Second Amendment, noting that he shot his first antelope North of Big Timber. But the Second Amendment, he said, “is not about hunting; it’s about freedom and it’s about liberty.”
Tim Macy of Gun Owners of America spoke in support of Daines and against Congressional gun-control efforts, which he called unconstitutional.
A potential United Nations arms treaty would make Americans citizens of the United Nations and not “free Americans,” he said.
Before Daines took the stage, Montana State University Bobcats quarterback DeNarius McGhee led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Greg Gianforte, a founder of RightNow Technologies, touted Daines’ role in the development of that software company, which grew to 1,100 employees.
“We ultimately became one of Montana’s largest employers,” he said. “With Steve’s help we succeeded.”
He noted that Daines is a chemical engineer: “I think it’s important we start sending engineers into government leadership,” he said to applause. “Especially in Washington.”
“They can solve problems. Better yet, they can do math,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
Daines joked that most engineers are too smart to run for Congress.
Daines was joined by his wife, Cindy, three of their four children and his parents. He said the family is guided by the principles of faith, freedom, personal responsibility, and opportunity.
He told the crowd of his Montana roots – his great-great-grandmother, a widow who emigrated to Minnesota and then north of Great Falls.
Her headstone has but three words on it: “Saved by Grace,” he said.
“It doesn’t say saved by her government,” he said. “I had a pretty smart great-great-grandmother.”
The Democratic side of the Senate race got a surprise Tuesday evening with the announcement by former Lt. Gov. (and former Republican) John Bohlinger that he would enter the race. That sets up a primary battle with current Lt. Gov. John Walsh, the former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester endorsed Walsh on Wednesday morning.
In what could be an expensive contest, Daines leads the fundraising battle with more than $1 million on hand.
Full story here.