At the official opening of a race that has been heating up for more than a year, candidates for a U. S. Senate seat came out firing Thursday.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., officially filed as a candidate Thursday in the race for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
Tester had not filed Thursday, although his campaign manager, Preston Elliott, said he will file his paperwork with the secretary of state at a later date.
Rehberg immediately went on the attack.
"You cannot spend your way into prosperity, " he said at a press conference he held in Billings along with Republican state legislators and candidates. "Senator Tester and Barack Obama's agenda is a one-size-fits-all solution of government spending. Our solution is to get government out of our way and create opportunity for our small businesses to flourish and create jobs. "
The Democrats fired right back.
"Congressman Rehberg gave his full endorsement to a deeply unpopular Republican Legislature that is more concerned about spear hunting than creating jobs today, " Montana Democratic Party Chair Ted Dick said in a release following the press conference. "As a central player in the most partisan Congress in history, Congressman Rehberg must have felt right at home amongst one of the most extreme Republican Legislatures in Montana history. "
The Montana Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the nation, with both sides saying it could help tip the balance in that house, in which the Democrats hold a majority by just four seats.