Daines gets Tea Party backing in Senate bid

Montana Senate candidate Rep. Steve Daines (R) nabbed the endorsement of the Tea Party Express on Friday.

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The endorsement will give Daines some clout among conservatives in the GOP primary, where he faces state Rep. Champ Edmunds and air traffic manager David Leaser. Both have attacked Daines as not conservative enough and accused the GOP establishment of playing favorites in the race.

Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer called Daines "a conservative that will fight for each and every Montanan."

“America is suffering under an unsustainable $17 trillion in debt, the Obamacare trainwreck, and anemic economic growth. Congressman Daines went to Washington, D.C. in order to tackle these problems, not play politics, and that’s exactly what he has been doing," she said.

Daines is indeed the preferred candidate of establishment Republicans to run for retiring Sen. Max Baucus's (R-Mont.) seat, as his name recognition and fundraising capacity exceeds that of his Republican opponents.

A recent Democratic poll showed him leading his potential Democratic opponents by double-digit margins, a much stronger position than Edmunds. His name recognition helped him take two-thirds of GOP primary voters in that survey, though his job approval numbers are underwater.

Though the state leans red, Democrats are hoping to make it competitive in the general election, and a contentious GOP primary could give them an opening. They, too, face a primary between establishment pick Lt. Gov. John Walsh and former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger.