It is no secret that the 2018 Senate map puts Democrats at a decided disadvantage. This hasn’t stopped Democrats from talking up their chances of potentially even retaking the Senate (that quest might even begin with trying to flip Alabama). If Democrats are to even dream of flipping the Senate they’ll have to ensure that they keep their losses to a minimum, and that will include focusing on protecting incumbent Senator Jon Tester in Montana.
Tester has proven himself to be a formidable candidate over the years (although last time around a Libertarian candidate likely allowed him to win a narrow victory). Tester’s strength notwithstanding, the state is consistently featured on lists of the seats most likely to switch parties after the elections are all said and done.
The Republican side is incredibly strong, with State Auditor Matt Rosendale, businessman Troy Downing, State Sen. Al Olszewski, and retired district judge Russell Fagg already in the race. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would have been a strong candidate but he seems unlikely to jump into the race, and his wife, Lolita, is Downing’s campaign chair. Were Zinke to run, it wouldn’t be the only time a husband and wife found themselves on opposing sides of this very election in Montana this cycle.
Things got even more interesting with the latest candidate announcements from both sides of the aisle.
Another Republican jumped in the race and Tester received his first primary opponent. James Dean announced his bid for the Republican nomination and Sarah Dean announced her candidacy as a Democrat, and yes they are related. They are husband and wife to be exact. James told local media that “both he and his wife believe reforming the Federal Reserve Bank and the banking system is the path to solving many of the nation’s problems, but that they have their own, separate beliefs on other issues.” On his campaign site he pledges to “unite the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders supporters in the Democratic Party with the Tea Party folks in the Republican Party.” That is quite a tall order, but he seems to believe that his main goal of taking on the Federal Reserve has a strong bipartisan resonance.
Neither James nor Sarah has ever run for office before. In the unlikely event they both win their party’s nominations, Montanans will likely be in for a family feud unlike any normally seen on television.