GOP candidates lining up for 2012

Former Republican Congressman Rick Hill on Monday announced his bid for Montana Governor at a kickoff event in Clancy.

Hill, who served two terms in the U.S. House in the late 1990s before a problem with his eyes kept him from running again in 2000, said revitalizing Montana’s economy tops his agenda.

Hill joins former state Sens. Ken Miller of Laurel and Corey Stapleton of Billings in the race for the GOP nomination for the post currently held by two-term Democrat Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer cannot run again in 2012 due to term limits.

In other news, sources told me on Monday that Bozeman businessman Steve Daines, who ran on Republican state Sen. Roy Brown’s gubernatorial ticket in 2008, intends to announce his bid for the U.S. Senate in the coming days.

Daines was traveling in Australia on Monday and unavailable for comment.

According to one Montana GOP insider, Daines is prepared to step aside from the senate race if Rep. Denny Rehberg decides to throw his hat in the ring to challenge Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. In that scenario Daines would then run for Rehberg’s House seat, the source said.

Rehberg has long been rumored to be gearing up to take on Tester and has been vocal in his criticisms of Montana’s junior senator. According to Politico, Rehberg was spotted exiting the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters just two days after Republicans’ huge showing in last Tuesday’s midterm elections.

CORRECTION: The Politico story I referenced was published in November 2009, not last week as I stated in my post. So the rumors of Rehberg’s alleged 2012 senate have been circulating for at least a year. Regardless, I regret the error.

Montana’s Senior Senator, Democrat Max Baucus, weighed in on subject, saying:

“I don’t think it would be wise” to challenge him, Baucus said.