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Keenan Huddles With GOP Leaders on Senate

Former state Senate President Bob Keenan (R) was in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) about the possibility of running against Sen. Max Baucus (D) in 2008.

Keenan, who unsuccessfully challenged then-Sen. Conrad Burns (R) in the 2006 GOP primary, also is pondering a gubernatorial bid, though he predicted that 2008 will be a difficult year for Republicans in Montana and nationwide.

“I’m pretty much just considering the possibility [of running for the Senate],” Keenan told The Associated Press this week. “I’m wide open. There’s a lot of pressure and assumption and expectation that I might run for governor of Montana as well. The third and most attractive option is to skip the ’08 cycle and go on with my life.”

At the outset of the 2008 cycle, national Republicans made denying Baucus a sixth term a top priority, but they have had some trouble finding a top-tier challenger. The only candidate so far is former state House Majority Leader Michael Lange (R), whose candidacy has been hampered by a profanity-laced tirade he issued earlier this year against popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D).

Keenan told the paper that by meeting with Senate Republican leaders, he hoped to gauge their commitment to the Montana race.

“Sen. Ensign is happy to speak with an experienced Montana Republican about ways to defeat Max Baucus next November,” NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher told Roll Call on Wednesday.

— Josh Kurtz

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