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Montana Democrats Rally in Advance of Key 2012 Elections
Democratic Convention
HELENA – Democrats gathering for a convention Friday in Great Falls say the 2012 elections may be the most important they have faced as they seek to re-elect U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and hold onto a slate of other offices.

Tester's re-election bid has been identified nationally as a top race now that he is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg. And all five statewide offices from the governor on down will be on the ballot.

Tester said he expects it won't be hard to motivate Democrats after they spent the last year watching the results of a 2010 election in which excited Republicans marched to huge wins in the state Legislature at home, and seized control of the U.S. House nationally.

Democrats, over the course of the election cycle, will keep pointing to some of the more controversial proposals from Republican lawmakers — such as attempting to declare the authority for the state to nullify federal laws or pitching plans for legalized spear hunting.

"I think across the board, Montanans looked at that and said 'what's going on here?'" said Tester.

Tester primarily plans to use a Saturday morning speech to Democrats to discuss the work he has done, such as his initiatives to improve veterans' benefits or to mandate more logging while designating more wilderness area. He expects the intense battle with Rehberg will require help from rank-and-file supporters.

"We need people on the ground conveying the facts," Tester said.

The Montana Democratic Party will also be picking internal leadership at the convention, on top of rallying the faithful for the key 212 election cycle. Democrats also are hoping to reverse the stunning state legislative losses they suffered in 2010 to Republicans.

The governor's office will be open as Gov. Brian Schweitzer leaves due to term limits. Democrats have Attorney General Steve Bullock running for governor, which then leaves the attorney general's office open.

Democrats will also be seeking to re-elect other statewide officeholders like Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, State Auditor Monica Lindeen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.

"The next election, 2012, is probably one of the most critical elections in the history of Montana," said Democratic Party Chairman Jim Elliott.

Elliott, who so far is running unopposed for another term running the party's affairs, said Democrats are energized after seeing the results of a GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives.

"The tea party-led Republican Party was willing to drive the country into the abyss," Elliott said. "Democrats nationwide and in Montana saw what can happen when we relax. We are motivated to take back seats. We are motivated to make sure 2010 doesn't happen again."

Republicans, however, remain confident that the backlash to policies in Washington D.C. that led them to big wins in 2010 will continue to motivate their base to get engaged and also continue to swing independents in their direction. Montana Republicans also kept their internal leadership team intact when they met earlier this summer for their own convention.

"People in this country aren't done voting against Obamacare yet," said Montana Republican Party spokesman Bowen Greenwood.
On 09-15-11, BillCunnane commented....
The Dems are gonna need more than a rally. They have had two years of power and all they did was shove ObamaCare down our throats. Bacus was at the head of that and even penned the portion that wanted to fine those who did not get insurance. Keep that…
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