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Political Science Experts Shares Insight on U.S. House, Senate Races

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MISSOULA - After lengthy campaigns and heated competition, primary winners for the U.S. House and Senate have emerged in Montana, and the race to the general election is on.

Republican Steve Daines and Democrat John Walsh will square off for the Senate seat in November, while Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis battle for the House.

Political Science Professor Christopher Muste said Steve Daines didn't have a serious threat in the primary and was able to start building his campaign against Walsh early on.

"I think Walsh has some catching up to do, he did come through the primary with strong Democratic support, he handily defeated Bohlinger," Muste said.

Muste says Daines also has much more name recognition among voters, and Walsh will have to create a stronger image before November.

"People aren't sure who he is, they know he's a senator, but they're not sure what he's done," Muste said.

However, Muste said after spending two years in the House, Daines will have to point to his accomplishments to gain the attention of voters.

"I think he's going to have to tread very carefully not to alienate people on the right wing of the Republican party, the Tea Partiers, but also to appeal to Montana's more moderate and independent voters," he said.

Muste said the Republican nomination was really a dog fight between the five candidates all over the state. He says the far right-wing members of the Montana GOP did not want Zinke to win the election.

"The Republicans going into the fall election are split, and that's something Zinke has to overcome, at the same time he's got to appeal to moderate and independent voters," he said.

Muste said on the Democrat side, Lewis is also someone not well known by Montana voters.

"And so, I think the next couple of months we'll see both a mix of those candidates trying to get around the state both in person and with their ads," he said.

The Montana Newspaper Association will host the first General Election debate on Saturday, June 14, in Butte with between Walsh, Daines and Libertarian candidate Roger Roots.
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