Monday, August 29, 2005

Love this "Life of Brian" headline and story

Kudos to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Carol Schmidt for this 'early' look at Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer:
Life of Brian: Former MSU professor predicted great things for Schweitzer


Twenty years ago, when Brian Schweitzer was a gregarious grad student with dreams of hitting it big in international agribusiness, a Montana State University mentor made a prediction that has stayed with Schweitzer.

"'Brian, if you can keep them from killing you over there in Africa, one day you'll come back and be governor,'" Larry Munn, Schweitzer's soils professor at MSU, told him over dinner the night before Schweitzer graduated in 1981.

"It struck me as unusual then, because I hadn't been involved in politics except as the president of the agronomy students at Colorado State," where he earned his undergraduate degree, Schweitzer said on a recent visit to MSU.

Of course, Schweitzer did return from Libya, his first stop in an ag career that also took him to Saudi Arabia, South America and Europe. And after a couple decades as a mint farmer and businessman, Schweitzer launched a political career and was elected in November as Montana's first Democratic governor since 1988.

"Brian was always very outgoing and interested in people," said Munn, now a soils professor at the University of Wyoming. "And he was a 'doer.' It took a tremendous amount of ambition and self-confidence to start his career as he did. He thrived on social interaction and he could take as well as give -- be the butt of a joke, laugh with everyone and come back with a better story of his own."

That ability to tell a good story has held Schweitzer in good stead. Recently, Lee Newspapers conducted a poll of Montana voters that found Schweitzer had a 57 percent job approval rating after his first five months in office. That compared with Judy Martz's 44 percent and Marc Racicot's 47 percent rating, both after five months in office.

Schweitzer's pragmatic and populist politics have also drawn him into the national spotlight. He's been featured in Washington Monthly, and magazine recently called him the "Howard Dean on the Range." Salon also said Schweitzer "may be the next best hope of the Democratic Party."
For the rest of the story, go here.


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