Tag Archives: Gov. Brian Schweitzer

Another Surprising Convention

By Jim Ellis

March 7, 2017 — It is commonly said that political conventions often assume a life of their own, and Sunday’s Democratic gathering in Montana to choose an at-large special congressional election nominee proved no exception to the axiom.

Last week, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) scheduled the congressional replacement vote for May 25 for the purpose of replacing former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish), who is now US Interior Secretary. Therefore, all recognized political parties had to quickly caucus in order to choose their individual nominee. Democrats immediately announced they would meet on March 5, and Republicans followed suit yesterday. The Libertarians will select a nominee on Saturday.

Going into the party meeting at the Helena Great Northern Hotel in Montana’s capital city, state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte), a high school mathematics teacher who had been the party’s 2014 US Senate nominee, appeared to have the inside track for the special congressional nomination. Eight individuals stood before the 160 voting party members, with only two, Curtis and state Rep. Kelly McCarthy, being elected officials.

The voting consumed four rounds, with the final ballot winnowed down to Curtis and local bluegrass/country rock musician Rob Quist. On the final tally, it was Quist, born in Cut Bank, Mont. 69 years ago, who scored an upset 90-69 vote victory. Post-convention interviews suggested the majority of delegates wanted to choose the candidate they believed was more electable. Apparently, most thought Curtis would repeat her fate of 2014 when she fell to then-Rep. Steve Daines (R), 58-40 percent in that year’s US Senate campaign.

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Razor-Thin Tennessee Results; Walsh; Hawaii, Tomorrow

Tennessee – Statewide

Sen. Lamar Alexander won renomination last night in Tennessee, and while his margin wasn’t razor-thin, his victory percentage was unimpressive. Scoring just 50 percent in his own Republican primary, Alexander out-polled state Rep. Joe Carr’s 41 percent. The remaining five candidates split the outstanding vote.

But the closeness of the contest occurred on the Democratic side, in what will likely be a battle for the right to lose to Alexander in November. Attorney Gordon Ball has been projected the winner, leading attorney Terry Adams by just 1,911 votes statewide.

One thing is clear, however. The statewide turnout overwhelmingly favored Republicans. Approximately 645,000 individuals voted in the Republican primary as compared with just under 240,000 who participated on the Democratic side.

On the other end of the margin perspective, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) cruised to an 88 percent victory. He will face Democrat  Continue reading >

Post-Election Day Surprises

Rep. Jon Runyan

Rep. Jon Runyan

NJ-3

New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) yesterday became the second sophomore Republican to announce that he will voluntarily retire at the end of the current Congress. Like Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2), Runyun was a clear favorite to win a third term in the House but has decided to end his congressional career. The Garden State congressman indicated that he wants more time with his family and was quoted as saying, “politics shouldn’t be a career and I never intended to make it one.”

Rep. Runyan was elected to the House in 2010 after spending 14 years playing in the National Football League, most notably with  Continue reading >

Jockeying for Position in Montana

The Democratic Party leadership has successfully recruited their best contemporary Montana option, with Lt. Gov. John Walsh yesterday announcing his candidacy to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D).

Montana is one of a trio of open Democrat seats, the others being West Virginia and South Dakota, that are must-wins for Republicans; voting trends are favoring the GOP in recent elections, and particularly so in mid-term election years. Therefore, the Democrats fielding a potentially strong candidate in such places becomes an important factor in their plan to hold the Senate majority.

It has been expected since the time former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat commonly viewed as the strongest potential candidate in either party, decided not to run that freshman at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) would jump into the Senate race. To date, such a move has not happened but most political observers still believe it will.

Daines becomes the early favorite if he does run, and his lengthy decision-making process is the main reason that other candidates have not leapt into the race. It appears that those wanting to run for statewide office are waiting to see what Daines finally does, and then they will announce for either the Senate or House, whichever of the two races becomes the open seat.

Walsh is a former adjutant general in the Montana National Guard who led some 2,000 of the state’s troops to combat duty in Iraq, culminating in him being awarded the  Continue reading >

The Montana Senate Waiting Game

In politics, timing is everything, and there’s great speculation as to just when Montana Rep. Steve Daines’ (R-AL) open Senate window might begin to close.

Over the weekend, retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) former state director, John Lewis, announced the formation of a political campaign committee destined for what he believes will be an open US House seat. Lewis had been considered a potential Senate candidate, and still conceivably could become one should Rep. Daines decide to stay put.

So far, the freshman congressman has played this election cycle like a fiddle. Ignoring advice to announce immediately upon Sen. Baucus’ retirement plans becoming public this past April, Daines adroitly waited until former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) made his decision. It was presumed that Schweitzer would become the prohibitive favorite if he entered the race, so everyone held their cards in anticipation. In mid-July, when he chose not to seek the seat, all of the political focus turned to the state’s lone congressman, Daines.

Relatively soon after Schweitzer took himself out of the Senate competition, state auditor, Monica Lindeen, and superintendent of public instruction, Denise Juneau, both Democrats, also decided not to pursue the contest.

But, how much longer will prospective Senate candidates wait? Since the seat came open in April, only two people have announced their candidacies, neither of whom is expected to be a major contender. For the Democrats, only rancher Dirk Adams has declared. On the GOP side, state Sen. Matt Rosendale has taken the plunge.

Previously in the race, intending to challenge Sen. Baucus when it was believed he would seek re-election, are ex-state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton and state Rep. Champ Edmunds. But, it is widely believe that all three announced Republicans will move to the House race if Daines reaches for the Senate.

The Lewis move suggests that things are beginning to happen, and that the time others are yielding to Daines could soon come to an end.

Understandably, Rep. Daines wants to be politically careful. Elected for the first time last November with a strong 53-43 percent margin when the other statewide   Continue reading >

Montana Senate Seat Has Become a GOP “Must Win”

Gov. Brian Schweitzer

Brian Schweitzer

Republicans may have just dodged a major bullet as former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) announced via telephone interview with local media on Saturday that he is not running for retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ (D) seat.

Polling was showing that the two-term ex-governor, after leaving office early this year, was the strongest candidate from either party who was reasonably considered a potential candidate. The latest Public Policy Polling survey (June 21-23; 807 registered Montana voters) did show Schweitzer trailing former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot by one percentage point, but the chances of the former statewide GOP office holder running to succeed Sen. Baucus are highly remote, so this pairing was discounted. Against all other potential or likely candidates, Schweitzer held a clear advantage.

In the interview explaining his decision not to enter the Senate campaign, the former Montana chief executive said he isn’t a good fit in a legislative body. “I’m a doer,” Schweitzer stated, “I’m used to being in charge of things, getting things done. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is a place where things die.”

Without Schweitzer running, the Republicans now become early favorites to convert the seat. If that became a reality, considering their favorable position for the Democratic open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia, it would bring them halfway to their goal of converting the six seats they need to capture the Senate majority.

All eyes will now turn to at-large freshman  Continue reading >

Montana In Play

Montana

Montana

A new Public Policy Polling survey previews a tight race evolving in the Montana open-seat race. Those eventually becoming candidates will vie for the right to succeed Sen. Max Baucus (D), who is retiring after what will be 40 years in Congress.

The new data seems to poke holes in the prognostication that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) would run away with the open-seat race should he decide to run. Other potential candidates have been hanging back awaiting his decision, but the former governor humorously quipped last week that it might be some time before he ultimately decides his 2014 plans.

Referring to his occupation as a soil scientist, Schweitzer said to a local news reporter, “…the most important thing a soil scientist has an understanding of is time-glacial time … I look at a mountain and I’m able to visualize how that mountain was created over 6 million years. You’re a journalist. You read time as next week, tomorrow. I think of time geologically. When you see me say ‘soon’ you may be thinking days — but I think of time in millions of years sometimes.” Thus, it appears his answer won’t be coming any time soon.

According to the PPP poll, Schweitzer would actually trail former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot (46-47 percent) even though the Democrat’s favorability index is much higher. Schweitzer scores 54:40 percent favorable to unfavorable, while Racicot only posts 43:37 percent, yet Racicot clings to a small lead.

Considering that Racicot is not likely to run, how does Schweitzer do against a more probable candidate? Paired with at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R), a freshman who ran strong in his first statewide campaign,  Continue reading >