It has been coming for a long time, but Kirk Bushman has confirmed that he is getting ready to announce for the U.S. Senate race next week. He wisely delayed declaring his candidacy until after the safe birth of his and his wife's first child in December.
Had he declared last fall, and then had to take a break from scheduled campaign appearances when it was baby time, that would have broken his stride.
As it is, he can now declare, start to campaign and raise money, and push on through to the finish.
Who would make a better candidate to run against Sen. Baucus -- Mike Lange or Kirk Bushman? Hard to say. Each has certain strengths. It is hard to see how it will be good for the Republican party, for our state legislative candidates, and for Roy Brown in his race against the governor to have the Baucus campaign endlessly running ads about Lange's "YouTube moment." But then, who knows -- maybe people would shrug all of that off and become desensitized to it.
In order to win, any Republican candidate running against Baucus is going to need some breaks. Republican fundamentals are sound in Montana, to be sure. Baucus has been in Washington too long. He took money from Jack Abramoff.
It is also hard to believe that someone who has shaken down K-street lobbyists as shamelessly as Baucus has to put together his war-chest won't carry the impression that he owes those lobbyists more than he owes Montanans -- at least when no-one is watching, which they usually aren't. Sen. Baucus has been serving on or presiding over a Senate Finance committee that has been driving Social Security down the road into insolvency during his entire tenure, with nary a creative idea proposed to deal with the impending crisis. And Baucus is hardly an inspiring campaigner.
But that won't be enough -- we will need some breaks. While we suspect that Bushman will be a more palatable candidate and one who will be more beneficial to the overall Republican ticket, that is just a guess. Lange has far more political experience, and now that he has learned a costly lesson, it could be that he will be less likely to make beginners' mistakes against Baucus.
But that, after all, is why we have primaries. May the best man win, and go on to give Sen. Baucus a race that makes him sweat a little -- and with some luck, one that makes him sweat a lot.