Montana Republican Congressman Faces Rare Primary Challenge

Race to Watch: 

At-Large Congressional District Republican Primary -- Denny Rehberg vs. Mark French vs. A.J. Otjen

With Montana's governor and two senators not up for reelection until 2012 at the earliest, the primary election in Montana Tuesday boils down to one race -- the contest for the state's at-large congressional seat.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg is considered the favorite, but faces a challenge in the primary for the first time since being elected in 2000. The congressman has landed in trouble over his vote to transfer some stimulus money to extend the "cash for clunkers" program that offered consumers tax credits for trading in gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient cars. A.J. Otjen, a business professor and former marketing executive, and Mark French, a clinical laboratory scientist, are two newcomers who say Montana needs a fresh face in the House.

Several candidates are also vying for the Democratic nomination. Dennis McDonald, as a former state Democratic Party chairman, entered the race with the clout, but now faces a tough bid from Tyler Gernant, an attorney and former aide to Sen. Max Baucus.