ASHLAND, ORE. — IN 1992, Montana's two incumbent congressmen had to run against each other when the state lost a seat in redistricting based on the 1990 census. Relatively liberal Democrat Pat Williams beat conservative Republican Ron Marlenee.
This year Mr. Williams faces Republican Cy Jamison, who headed the US Bureau of Land Management in the Bush administration. Clinton carried Montana by 3 percentage points in 1992, but now has a 73 percent unfavorability rating. Still, Mr. Williams seems to have successfully distanced himself from the president. He's running as a populist and independent Democrat opposed to Clinton policies and is ahead in the polls by about 15 points.
The US Senate race is more lively. Incumbent Conrad Burns (R) is a folksy, tobacco-chewing former livestock auctioneer who supports the traditional resource-based economy.
His Democratic opponent is Jack Mudd, former dean of the University of Montana law school who says the state needs a more balanced economy. He has been endorsed by environmental groups.
Mr. Burns has been criticized for taking many lobbyist-sponsored trips and accepting special-interest campaign contributions. He's ahead in the polls, but Montanans have elected only one other Republican US senator - and sent him packing after one term.