Sunday, April 10, 2005
Schweitzer for President?Posted by Bob Brigham
Not only had the citizens of the nation's fourth largest state elected a Democratic candidate as governor for the first time in 20 years, they'd also rolled back GOP dominance to a 50-50 split in the state House, taken a 27-23 majority in the Senate, filled virtually every position of real authority in the state's higher offices with Democrats, and defeated referendums on re-allowing cyanide leaching in mining (despite millions of dollars of industry lobbying money promoting the idea) while approving of the medical use of marijuana. [...]
Red, blue or purple--color-coding Montana's patterns of voting is just too simplistic, and Brian Schweitzer fits the non-conformist mold to a T. A prosperous farmer/rancher from the area of Whitefish in the tony Flathead Valley country, Mr. Schweitzer cultivates a well-spoken, gun-owning, dog-loving, native-ritual-doing, shot-of-whiskey-drinking true-west style somewhere between that of Jeanette Rankin (a famously antiwar liberal Republican elected to the U.S. Congress before women's suffrage was passed) and Mike Mansfield (the conservative Democrat senator and former ambassador to Japan whose voting record, taken as a whole, was more liberal than that of George McGovern).
Schweitzer for President?
How all this sorts itself out over the short term is anybody's guess, but Mount St. Schweitzer is certainly stirring things up--from driving himself around the state with his pet dog, Jag, to flying the tribal flags of the seven Native American Indian reservations in Montana in rotation above the rotunda in the capital, a unique symbol of the governor's maverick streak.
That streak came to the fore at the annual state governors' meeting at the White House, where Mr. Schweitzer upbraided both President Bush and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. He likened the president to a bad cattle auctioneer and Mr. Leavitt to a cowpoke "riding for the brand." National Democrats swooned at the audacity of the freshman governor from the Mountain West. And some even started to whisper a number: 2008.
Tribal flags at the White House? There's always a first time.
UPDATE: Find out more about the story behind:
We can only wish. Schweitzer seems like a hell of a guy. He is going to be a fine governor.
If Schweitzer runs in 2008, the Dems can probably count Colorado's 9 electoral votes as in the bag -- along with good shots at AZ, NM, and Nevada. Probably would keep the upper midwest safe for us too. Schweitzer seems like he would be a good candidate to challenge the Republicans if they choose a charismatic "moderate" like McCain.
It seems Schweitzer might be just the person to take some bold political positions. I was too young to vote but supported Perot in '92 because he was the only candidate to oppose the Gulf War.
And Montana has been doing a few progressive things lately, as Bob notes:
A couple of years ago, there was a ballot initiative to have the state take over hydroelectirc produceers by eminent domain, to keep cheap pwoer in-state and support energy-intensive industries like mills (failed after serious PR by the energy industry).
I also heard something about a bill to make big box retailers like wal-mart pay a special 1% tax -- based on the social effect of their low wage labor? Not sure on the details.
So this post ties nicely with the one before (on Wal-Mart) and the one after (on the death of the DLC).