Rep. Steve Daines is slowly building up his campaign war chest in advance of 2014—though exactly what office that money will be used to fight for remains to be seen. The freshman congressman’s latest foray into fundraising went down Wednesday evening at a reception in Washington, D.C. The invite, obtained from the Sunlight Foundation’s politicalpartytime.org, listed a suggested individual contribution amount of $500, and boasted that the evening’s special guest would be Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Portman’s name might ring a bell or two. He sits on the Senate Finance Committee alongside Sen. Max Baucus, and served on the much-ballyhooed debt-reduction supercommittee back in 2011. He also worked closely with Sen. Jon Tester last year on legislation designed to avoid future government shutdowns. Portman was even talked about as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney shortly after the Republican presidential primary in spring 2012. It goes without saying, he’s a powerful ally for someone a mere seven months in office.
Alee Lockman, Daines’ communications director, told the Indy that the congressman was “happy” to have Portman join him for the event. Apparently the two have developed a solid working relationship through Daines’ efforts on the House version of Baucus’ North Fork Watershed Protection Act. Lockman said Portman has a “deep passion for what we have to offer in Montana,” and he and Daines have found much common ground on issues relating to conservation and natural resource development. Asked if a fundraising appearance by a powerhouse like Portman indicated any aspirations for higher office on Daines’ part, Lockman said Daines is still weighing his options. He’s not ruling out a bid for Senate, she said, but “Steve is taking the time to consider how he can best serve the people of Montana.” Either way, she added, Daines will be running a campaign in 2014.