Montana Senate race a lost cause for Democrats? Enter Amanda Curtis

Montana's Senate seat appears a sure pickup for Republicans this fall, especially after Sen. John Walsh (D) dropped out. But the new Democratic candidate, Amanda Curtis, promises a fun ride to the finish.

Thom Bridge/Independent Record/AP
Amanda Curtis, a state legislator from Butte, Mont., smiles after being selected as the replacement candidate in the US Senate race against Republican Steve Daines in Helena, Mont., on Saturday.

Amanda Curtis might not change the electoral math in Montana much, but she seems likely at least to make things interesting.

For some time, political pundits have been essentially writing off Democrats' chances of holding the United States Senate seat currently occupied by John Walsh (D). Recent polls show Republican candidate Steve Daines with a double-digit lead, and accusations of plagiarism against Senator Walsh became so distracting that he dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Montana already seemed to be a lock as one of the six pickups Republicans need to take back control of the Senate this November. Now, it appears Fort Knox-safe for the GOP.

But state Representative Curtis isn't going down without a fight.

At a special convention Saturday, Montana Democrats chose Curtis to challenge Mr. Daines. She's got only three months to get her challenge up to speed. But she appears to be relishing the task.

Curtis stacks up as Montana's version of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts, who has quickly gained a loyal following as the Senate's liberal avenger. A high school math teacher who relied on food stamps to eat as a child and her father's union benefits for health care, Curtis casts her candidacy in the sharp contours of warfare for working Americans.

“We all need to remember that Washington, D.C., is full of folks that have done incredibly well for themselves and when you send folks to Washington, D.C., who have done incredibly well for themselves, they take votes that tilt the playing field to the wealthy and against us regular working folks,” she said, according to the Billings Gazette.

Frankly, it is the Main Street vs. Wall Street argument that defines some libertarian Republicans, too. Dave Brat defeated former House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia in a primary earlier this summer on just such rhetoric. But Mr. Brat and Curtis clearly diverge on the matter of government size and scope. Curtis is a union darling, too.

The distinction between her and Daines will likely be clear to voters – and Montana is not Massachusetts. Still, Curtis likes her chances.

“If we can get him on the record on the issues of importance to Montanans, it will all be over,” she told the Associated Press.

The political chattering class, however, needs some convincing.

“I don’t know of any analyst who believes it’s not over,” Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, told the Gazette.

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