Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) will announce Saturday he is challenging Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Roll Call reports.
“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.”
Rehberg’s status as a well-known, at-large Congressman immediately pushes the matchup between the two Big Sky State politicians to among the most competitive Senate races in the country. Recent polling conducted for the Rehberg campaign bears that out.
The operative offered up some internal Rehberg polling numbers showing the Montana Republican with the advantage over Tester in a prospective 2012 matchup.
The Opinion Diagnostics survey of 400 likely Montana voters showed 49 percent backing Rehberg compared to 43 percent for Tester and 8 percent undecided. In a three-way match up 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.
Rehberg "will make the announcement at Saturday’s Lincoln/Reagan dinner in Helena."
Tea Party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is also expected to attend.
Meanwhile, Steve Daines, a "Republican businessman already in the Senate race, is expected to announce on Thursday that he will instead run for Rehberg’s House seat."