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POLITICS: PennAve

Montana Democrats think they've found their Elizabeth Warren

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Politics,Betsy Woodruff,Montana,2014 Elections,Campaigns,PennAve,Elizabeth Warren,John Walsh

Montana Democrats are pleased at the candidate they've found to replace Sen. John Walsh.

At a nominating convention on Saturday, delegates chose state Rep. Amanda Curtis as their new nominee, a move made necessary since Walsh ended his campaign after the New York Times reported that he plagiarized much of his master's thesis.

Big Sky Country progressives never loved Walsh, but they’re singing Curtis’s praises.

“She’s Montana’s Elizabeth Warren, she really is,” said Bob Brigham, a Helena-based advisor for progressive groups and Democrats.

He said he’s interested to see if she gets more votes than John Lewis, a former staffer for Sen. Max Baucus and the Democratic candidate for the state’s sole House seat, also picked statewide.

Lewis is seen as the Establishment’s pick, per Brigham. So if Curtis wins more votes than he does, progressives will see that as an indicator that their side may be stronger than some think.

Still, Curtis’s chance at victory is very slim. She’s entering the race late in the game, and she’ll face Republican nominee Steve Daines’ formidable campaigning and fundraising apparatus.

“I think she’s a lovely young lady and very courageous, and I think she is, you know, a fine character and all that,” said Paul Edwards, a former member of the Montana Democratic Party’s executive board. “I don’t think she has a chance in hell.”

Expect Republicans to make hay out of comments Curtis made in numerous videos she’s posted to Youtube. The Republican Party’s Twitter account sent out a compilation video this morning of comments that may raise some eyebrows, including a clip where Curtis said she’s an “anarchist at heart.”

That particular statement might not be a huge liability, backers argued.

“It might be a small positive for her in this state, because there’s a lot of anti-government feeling in Montana,” said Edwards.

Brigham added that the state's largest annual parade celebrates vigilantes who killed a corrupt sheriff and his men.

“For 150 years we’ve celebrated that,” he said. “Amanda can have as much contempt for the system as would go over at a militia meeting, and not turn off Montana voters.”

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