Havre Daily News
The man challenging U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns in the June 6 Republican primary election thinks he has a decent shot of winning.
State Senate Minority Leader Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, said Tuesday he estimates his chances are -50 and growing.” Keenan stopped in Havre halfway through his campaign tour.
“People are receptive to my candidacy and my electability in November,” he said.
His wife and two of his five children have joined him for the RV tour. He said the tour has been a success so far and he's received positive support from Montanans.
“People feel that when you're in an outfit like that, you're approachable,” Keenan said.
Residents have concerns about the recent debate over immigration, and are confused by the proposal to make passports mandatory for entering the U.S. from Mexico and Canada, he said. Agriculture issues also are on people's minds, Keenan added.
One big issue, he said, is that “You can't tell a Republican from a Democrat in D.C.”
He said Capitol Hill Republicans like Burns have been spending too much money and building up the national debt.
“The Republican philosophy sells well in Montana,” Keenan said. “I think the messenger is wrong.”
His filing to run against Burns in June was initially seen as blasphemy by some Republicans in the state, he said, but he chose to run to give voters a choice.
“I felt it was important to have a legitimate candidate on the ballot to see where Conrad Burns stands,” Keenan said. “I felt it was time to have a choice on the ballot. When I first filed, I suspected I had a 15 to 20 percent chance., and I think it's 50-50 at this time and growing.”
He believes the federal government should enforce current immigration laws and continue to use the mechanisms in place for immigrants to gain citizenship status. Keenan said he wants to increase quotas on temporary work release programs.
“I'm a big fan of allowing people to live the American Dream,” he said.
“I'm glad to see that Bush has backed off the amnesty (for illegal immigrants),” he added.
Keenan wants to see the government use the National Guard, Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Protection to seal U.S. borders. The Canadian border needs to remain demilitarized, he added.
He thinks there is “a lot of confusion” on the war in Iraq and said people need to remember the successes there and in Afghanistan. Millions are tasting freedom they've never had before, he said, while ,000 lunatics are trying to destroy Western civilization.
A Massachusetts native, Keenan moved to Montana in 1982. He and his wife Suzie own the Bigfork Inn. He served in the state House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998. Keenan was elected to the state Senate in 1999 and served as its president in 2003 and minority leader in 2005.