To Democrats looking for success: look west
And yes, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer receives prominent play.
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Out West, Democrats Roam Free
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Published: November 27, 2005
THE gun-loving, pickup truck-driving, church-going, jeans-wearing governor of Montana - a Democrat in his first year - was reveling in his poll numbers on a day when broader surveys found that barely a third of the people approved of their national government leaders.
"Look at these numbers," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, pointing to the annual Montana State University survey showing him with a job approval rating of 69 percent - 27 points higher than President Bush in Montana and 21 points above the Republican senator, Conrad Burns, who is up for re-election next year. "People seem to like what we're doing."
Across the vast inland sea of Republican red, in states like Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Arizona, other Democratic governors are soaring at the same high level of approval in the polls. They may not look much like coastal Democrats, and they may not talk much like their party leaders. At times, they act as if they would rather catch the bird flu than have their pictures taken with Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman who often runs into "scheduling conflicts" with the governors whenever he visits.
But as Democrats look to nationalize the Congressional elections next year, they have been traipsing off to political backwaters likes Helena, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Topeka, Kan., for tips from Heartland Democrats. The breed that has long been ignored, but was forced early on to learn some survival strategies, is now in vogue.