Conrad Burns, MIA

If the Montana senator is looking forward to debating his challenger, why did he skip their first debate?

Published June 12, 2006 7:07PM (EDT)

Jon Tester didn't make it to YearlyKos in Las Vegas, but he may as well have: Everywhere we turned, we heard excited talk about the Democrats' nominee for Conrad Burns' seat in the U.S. Senate. If we didn't know better, we'd think the blogosphere's dream ticket for 2008 might just be Tester-Lamont.

YearlyKos is over now, but the blogger love for Tester lives on. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga keeps the flame burning at DailyKos today. As Moulitsas notes, Burns put out a radio ad last week in which he congratulated Tester for winning the Democratic nomination for his seat. "Jon's a good man," Burns said in the ad, "and I look forward to debating him."

Well, maybe not so much.

The Montana Newspaper Association put on a debate in the Senate race over the weekend, but Burns was a no-show, choosing to attend a golf fundraiser in Virginia instead. As the Great Falls Tribune reports, Tester made the most of his rival's absence, at one point standing in front of Burns' empty seat and answering a question on his behalf. As for the Burns team? A spokesman defended the senator's absence by saying, "I think Montanans could use a bit of a break from the campaign."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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