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Veteran GOP Politician Prepares To Take On Baucus

June 6, 1990

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana Republicans tapped Lt. Gov. Allen Kolstad to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who brushed aside his primary opposition but said he’s taking nothing for granted in November.

Baucus, raised more than $2 million in campaign money even before Tuesday’s primary victory, but recalled the 1988 upset of Democratic Sen. John Melcher by upstart Republican Conrad Burns.

″One never takes anything for granted - ever,″ said Baucus, 48.

Kolstad, a 58-year-old farmer-rancher and 20-year veteran of Montana politics, bested three rivals in a hotly contested GOP primary.

With 98 percent of 967 precincts reporting early today, Kolstad had 36,897 votes, or 43 percent; to 30,451 votes, or 36 percent, for scientist- businessman Bruce Vorhauer; 11,484, or 13 percent, for state Sen. Bill Farrell; and 6,525, or 8 percent, for businessman John Domenech.

Kolstad promised a campaign that would ″keep Senator Baucus up against the ropes right from the beginning.″

″We’re just going to have to outwork him,″ he said. ″We’re used to putting in a lot of 16- and 18-hour days on the ranch. We’re going to convert that energy into the campaign.″

Baucus had 79,131 votes, or 83 percent, to 12,444 votes, or 13 percent for state Public Service Commissioner John Driscoll; and 4,321 votes, or 5 percent, for evangelist Curly Thornton.

Kolstad was recruited by national Republicans, including President Bush and former President Reagan. Baucus, pointing to the national GOP involvement, predicted that Kolstad’s campaign would be run from Washington.

Kolstad, emphasized his farming background and his lifelong ties to Montana. The emphasis also was a slap at Vorhauer, who moved his legal residence to Montana only last fall.

Vorhauer, 48, is best known as the inventor of the Today contraceptive sponge. His campaign stressed his engineering and science background as qualifying him to bring high-tech businesses to the state.

Farrell, 41, who operates a small independent trucking firm, touted his working-man image. Domenech, 36, campaigned for a national health plan.

Baucus ran a quiet primary campaign, with neither of his challengrs having much in the way of money or organizations.