I doesn't seem like it was that long ago when MyDD celebrated the Democratic Sweep in Montana that elected Brian Schweitzer Governor. But next spring will be Governor Schweitzer's last legislative session and due to term limits the seat will be open in 2012.
The great news is that former Congressman Pat Williams is considering a run for governor!
If Williams runs, it would be a very exciting race. He was famous for running bigger door-to-door campaigns than Montana had ever seen before (or has seen since). In 1992, when Montana's two congressional districts were combined into a single at-large seat, Williams beat another sitting congressman in the most legendary statewide campaign in decades. While respect for Williams runs wide across Montana, his bold progressive stances have earned him a depth of support that runs deeper than can easily be explained.
"My phone's been ringing again, really for a year, but especially since the story on the Internet," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm honored that this is the third time that Montanans have generously asked me to run for governor. If I ran, I'm convinced that I'd win the primary by a good margin and then the general by a smaller but safe margin.
"I'm 72 years old, and I am more knowledgeable and wiser than I was at my so-called prime at 35. The other thing I know is that there will be a lot of good candidate on both sides, Republican and Democratic, but I will not be one of them."
The latest fundraising numbers from the Democratic Governors Association, which is tasked with the tough job of maintaining the party's 28 to 22 advantage in governorships around the country in 2009 and 2010, are pretty outstanding:
The Democratic Governors Association today announced what the group is calling a "record-breaking" first quarter fundraising take of $5.3M, the most the raised in an off-year first quarter. The organization brought in $23M last year and $18.1M in 2006.
"Governors are on the frontline of our economic recovery, and it's important to elect people who believe that we need to invest in our schools, help hardworking families over the hump of tough times and focus on creating jobs," said MT Gov. Brian Schweitzer, DGA chairman, in a release. "It's gratifying that our supporters continue to see the value of investing in these races for the once-in-a-generation elections in 2009 and 2010."
The Governor races around the country in 2009 and 2010 are key for the future of the Democratic Party, as they will in most cases be the final elections prior to the upcoming redistricting processes around the country. With Republicans maintaining a robust history of trying to gerrymander their way into power or to keep power (see, e.g., the ridiculous and unlawful effort spearheaded by Tom DeLay and his lackeys back in 2003 to muck up the district lines in Texas) and the party unlikely to retake the House any time soon without the districts looking significantly different than they do today, it is imperative that the Democrats are assured a seat at the table by electing and reelecting Democratic Governors over the next two years. So kudos to DGA Chairman Brian Schweitzer, executive director Nathan Daschle, and the whole team at the committee for such a strong fundraising quarter.
Listening to Brian Schweitzer hold forth at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last August, the following thought went through my head: Brian Schweitzer 2016! Hearing some of the courageous things he continues to say, and watching some of the great work he continues to do as Governor of Montana, I can't say I feel much differently today than I felt eight months ago.
Acknowledging the successful recent push in several states for legalizing same-sex marriage, Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, observed today that those seeking to make an issue of gay marriage during the next cycle of gubernatorial contests are ill-advised.
"I think that the gay marriage issue is losing some punch," Schweitzer said during a phone interview with Hotline editors. " ... The demographic trends are working against those who are a little bit homophobic in this country."
Coming from a traditionally red state like Montana (albeit one that is becoming more and more blue), Schweitzer could stay away from talking about social issues perceived inside the Beltway to be too controversial or divisive. He could also address them, but in an anodyne way. But that's not Brian Schweitzer, a man who says what he means and means what he says. I might not have worded it exactly the same, but Schweitzer isn't wrong to say that the "demographic trends are working against those who are a little bit homophobic in this country." But to hear him put it that way is pretty noteworthy.
And for those who would like to get their Schweitzer fix this Easter Sunday afternoon, here is the Governor's rousing address from the DNC:
There has been a great deal of pixels devoted to Brian Schweitzer. He's done well. But...
Today, there was an explosion that put a giant crater in Main Street of Bozeman, Mt. The Governor's mansion is more than 100 miles away, yet Governor Brian Schweitzer was explaining what happened next withing three hours. Yeah, and he had the National Guard ready when he threw down.
In talks with senior officials after today's explosion, credit was given to the drills Schweitzer began running when he became governor. Listening to the press conferences (via www.KMMSam.com, my old radio station), it was clear that everyone knew what to do. Worst disaster to hit Bozeman, but all is good.