I ran into Michael Lange last night while I was delivering the Outpost to a Kwik-Way. He seemed pretty chipper for a fellow who had just lost a U.S. Senate primary to a pair of eyebrows. In fact, he didn't sound like he had lost the race at all.
Lange said he wasn't surprised that Bob Kelleher got the most votes. Kelleher has name recognition and, in the absence of strong party support for any other candidate, that was enough. Lange, who ran second, was the only other candidate with much name recognition. By his own admission, it's the sort of notoriety that didn't necessarily help.
Lange also dismissed the theory that Ron Paul supporters got Kelleher elected. I provide limited evidence for that theory below, but Lange generally agreed with Montana Headlines' comment that Paul supporters lined up behind him. Paul's people are an independent-minded enough group that they also showed pockets of support for other candidates, he said.
So what now? Lange obviously has something in mind, although he wasn't ready to say exactly what that was. My bet is that we will hear about an independent or write-in candidacy involving one or more of the other candidates sometime next week.
This actually is a good idea. I'm not partial to write-in candidacies, but in this case I would waive my objections. It might at least lead to an actual discussion of issues, which won't happen with Kelleher in the race. And it provides an out for people like me who oppose term limits but also don't like having senators-for-life. I hoped to vote Republican for Senate in order, at best, to keep a bit of division of power in Congress and, at worst, to try to send Baucus a message that he can't just take re-election for granted.
I couldn't vote for any Republicans in the primary. I had to cast a Democratic ballot in order to fulfill my constitutional obligation to cancel out my wife's vote for Hillary Clinton. And I don't think I could vote for Kelleher, no matter how charming he might be, just because.
Lange may give voters like me some hope yet.