So right now, he's playing it cool on the surface but deep down, he has to be concerned. Especially since Democrats have been hitting him hard on this:In the wake of the 16-day federal government shutdown and budget impasse this month, Montana’s only congressman, Republican Steve Daines, is getting flak from all political corners.
But whether fallout from his role in the shutdown may hurt him in next year’s election is far from settled, political scientists say — and Daines himself seems to shrug it off, saying he took votes he felt reflected the views of most Montanans.
“You’re going to have folks always taking shots at you — that comes with leadership,” he said in an interview last week. “That goes back to the need to ensure you remain focused on solving the problems, serving the people who elected you and not the political calculations. I sleep very well at night.”
Daines initially voted with the House Republican majority that refused to pass a budget without defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That refusal led to partial shutdown of the federal government Oct. 1.
However, on Oct. 16, he joined 86 other House Republicans and all House Democrats in supporting the short-term budget deal that ended the shutdown. - Helen Air, 10/27/13
The Missoulan also points out that during the shutdown, Daines attended a reception by American Crossroads in D.C. that was aimed for attendees to hear from "top 2014 candidates". Local political observers also chimed in and said that Daines's support for the shutdown gives Democrats something to remind voters:Democrats are pounding away on Daines, calling him “Shutdown Steve” for being part of the Republican majority that wouldn’t pass a budget without conditions that President Barack Obama said he wouldn’t abide, leading to a shutdown they say cost the national and Montana economy millions of dollars.
“He was a partner in a reckless and irresponsible political game that inflicted harm on his local economy,” said Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
At the same time, conservatives are blasting Daines as a sellout and coward for voting Oct. 16 to end the shut down and leave Obamacare largely intact.
“When it finally mattered, Daines turned around and voted to allow funding for the implementation of Obamacare to take effect,” said Nathan Mehrens, president of Americans for Limited Government.
Lt. Gov. John Walsh, the Democrat who may end up facing Daines in next year’s Montana U.S. Senate contest, also chimed in just before the shutdown ended, saying Daines must “undo the harm he caused to our economy, veterans, children, seniors and Montana’s working families.” - The Missoulan, 10/26/13
And the polling numbers are out showing voters are pissed at Daines:David Parker, an associate professor of political science at Montana State University in Bozeman, said that’s exactly what he expects Democrats will do, assuming Daines tries for the Senate.
“They are going to paint him as part of the problem, and Daines will do whatever he can to show that he is different,” Parker said.
But Parker also said the shutdown may not take center stage in the Senate campaign.
“Long-term, I think the prospects for the shutdown negatively affecting Daines will only play out if this happens again and again,” he said. “Voters have short memories. Ultimately, as that moves further into the past, I think he will be fine.”
Daines will be hurt more, Parker said, if the shutdown delays the date he officially kicks off his campaign. Daines was expected to announce his intentions this fall, but he recently told The Hill newspaper he won’t decide until the end of the year.
That means Daines could fall behind in fundraising and in ramping up name recognition, Parker said. - Great Falls Tribune, 10/25/13
Plus the Tea Party is pissed at him:Montana’s entire congressional delegation may have taken a hit in their approval ratings because of the 16-day federal government shutdown, the director of a new Montana State University-Billings poll said Friday.
The poll, conducted during the shutdown earlier this month, asked state residents their views on several national and state issues and to assess the performance of their elected leaders.
Most respondents said they opposed President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but even more people, regardless of political party affiliation, opposed shutting down the federal government as a way of delaying its implementation, the poll found.
The respondents gave Democratic U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester both about a 44 percent approval rating, while freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines received a 39 percent approval rating.
By comparison, respondents gave Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, the only state elected official included in the poll, a 52 percent approval rating.
The poll has a 5 percent margin of error. MSU Billings students interviewed 410 Montanans by telephone between Oct. 7-10, calling both land lines and cellphones.
Poll Director Craig Wilson said pollsters did not specifically ask whether the approval ratings were tied to the government shutdown, but the connection is clear. - The Western News, 10/29/13
But Daines is already courting a key demographic that could help him in the general election:Tea Partiers have vowed to keep trying to dismantle the healthcare law, and some groups are attacking Republican Congressman Steve Daines for his vote to end the shutdown.
Within hours of the vote to end the 16-day government shutdown, theteaparty.net tweeted a link to the votes of the 27 Republican Senators and 87 Republican House members who voted for that legislation.
The group calls those lawmakers the 2014 RINO Hunting List. - Montana Public Radio, 10/18/13
So we shall see. I will say this though, Democrats are feeling pretty confident about Lt. Governor John Walsh (D. MT) as their candidate:Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is building relationships with Montana’s Native American leaders that could help him win a Senate seat in 2014.
Daines has met with the leaders of Montana’s seven federally recognized tribes, developing a particularly close bond with the head of the Crow tribe, Darrin Old Coyote.
The outreach could pay dividends for Daines should he make his expected bid for the Senate. Native Americans make up nearly 8 percent of Montana's population and traditionally have voted heavily for Democrats, at times providing their margins of victory.
Daines, who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee and its Indian Affairs subcommittee, sat down with tribal leaders shortly after he was sworn in to Congress. When he met Old Coyote, the Crow Tribe’s chairman, they found they had a connection — Daines had grown up down the street from Old Coyote’s cousin. - The Hill, 10/27/13
If you would like to donate or get involved with Walsh's campaign, you can do so here:Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, the Democratic candidate for Senate, has hired several veterans of Sen. Jon Tester’s successful 2012 reelection campaign for his own team.
This helps gives the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee confidence that the former leader of the Montana National Guard can keep the race for the seat being given up by retiring Sen. Max Baucus, also a Democrat, competitive.
The Republican candidate, freshman Rep. Steve Daines, is expected to announce his candidacy next month, and DSCC executive director Guy Cecil argues in a two-page memo shared first with POLITICO that the shutdown has damaged the GOP brand broadly and Daines’s hopes specifically.
“John Walsh is the right candidate, at the right time, with the right team in place to win in 2014,” said Cecil.
Walsh has retained the same polling and media firm that helped Tester beat Rep. Denny Rehberg in a competitive 2012 campaign, even with President Barack Obama at the top of the ballot. - Politico, 10/24/13