Sunday, September 30, 2007

Governor Schweitzer gets yet another mention

Brian Schweitzer [of course] receives praise for winning the Montana governorship three years ago in a Los Angeles Times article today.

The gist of the article is about who ofthe current Democratic presidnetial frontrunners will play best in the Mountain West states.

CAMPAIGN '08: MOUNTAIN WESTLocal Democrats in West fear impact of unpopular ticket leader

Noam N. Levey

Los Angeles Times
September 30, 2007

BOZEMAN, MONT. -- Election day was still more than a year off when Sen. Max Baucus recently stopped by the new Boys & Girls Club along a creek outside this fast-growing city in the shadow of southwestern Montana's jagged Bridger Mountains.

But the silver-haired Democrat looked every bit a candidate in a nail-biter as he finger-painted with children at the log-cabin clubhouse and then raced 100 miles down the Missouri River to the state capital to talk up what he was doing for the state in Washington. Baucus is the longest-serving senator in Montana history. As chairman of the finance committee, he writes the nation's tax laws. He is one of the most popular politicians in the state. And his party, which controls the governor's office, the Legislature and the state's two Senate seats, is on a roll.
Yet, as he prepares to run for a fifth term next year, Baucus is entering treacherous territory. Despite recent gains by Democrats in the Rocky Mountain West, party officials across the region are increasingly anxious that their congressional candidates may get dragged under by Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.

The New York senator and Democratic front-runner was by a wide margin the most unpopular of 13 potential presidential candidates in Montana, according to a June survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Billings Gazette; 61% said they would not consider voting for her, compared with 49% who would not vote for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and 45% who would not vote for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

The most unpopular Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, was rejected by 51%.

Recent polls in Colorado, Nevada and Arizona have found similar distaste for Clinton.

"She's carrying huge negatives out here," said Floyd Ciruli, an independent Colorado pollster who said Democratic congressional candidates would have to highlight their differences with the national party to be successful next year. "It's that liberal East Coast image that is so hard to sell in the West."

One key advisor to a prominent Democratic congressional candidate, who asked not be to identified discussing tensions within the party, went even further. "It's a disaster for Western Democrats," he said. "It keeps me up at night"...

...But party leaders and strategists also attribute the recent gains to candidates who connect with Western voters and their values, in part by distinguishing themselves from the national Democratic Party.

Perhaps no one is more of a poster child for that success than Montana's colorful governor, Brian Schweitzer. Three years ago, Schweitzer became the darling of Democratic politicos when he swaggered into office with a dog and a pair of cowboy boots.

Schweitzer, a cattle rancher and the grandson of homesteaders, is no Democrat in name only. He is a proponent of energy conservation and environmental regulation. He favors abortion rights. And while the Bush administration was pushing to expand surveillance powers with the Patriot Act, Schweitzer pardoned 78 Montanans, most of them German immigrants, who had been convicted of sedition during World War I.

He also champions gun rights and coal -- a major Montana export -- positions that reflect clear differences from the Democratic Party's coastal wings.

"There are two kinds of people in Montana," Schweitzer joked in a recent telephone interview. "Those who are for gun control, and those who run for public office."

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Governor Schweitzer and John Edwards

Who knows what this means, if anything, but Governor Schweitzer is saying some nice things about John Edwards.

Too many will try and read the tea leaves here -- let's just say that Schweitzer and Edwards are interchangeable when it comes to the perversion that lobbyists infect into democracy.

From the Washington Post's Chris Cizzilla and his column The Fix:

Edwards and Schweitzer: Perfect Together?

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) will be introduced by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer later today at a fundraiser in Missoula, according to his campaign.

Sources on both sides were careful to note that Schweitzer's presence at the "Small Change for Big Change" event, which is to be held as the University of Montana, did not constitute an endorsement. But, that won't stop the Edwards campaign from using today's event to bolster the argument that Edwards is a candidate who has real appeal in red states...

Here is a kick-ass quote and the primary tie that binds them:

In an interview today, Schweitzer said that Edwards "says out loud what I say every day here" when it comes to the overpowering influence of lobbyists on the legislative processs. "Lobbyists are not the fourth branch of government," said Schweitzer. "They don't run the government, but they act like they do."

Go here for the complete article.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jag writes a book

Hey, who knew the four-legged member of the Schweitzer family was as equally erudite as his master? Maybe Disney will option it for turning into a film.

Jag bones up writing skills, pens kids' book
Richard Ecke
Great Falls Tribune

September 2, 2007

Thousands of books have been written about dogs.

Few have been written by dogs.

That means Jag, Montana's first dog, will break new ground as the author of a book called "First Dog."

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will play a supporting role helping promote his dog's book. Jag often accompanies the state's top executive on visits to schools, newspaper offices and on other occasions...

Go here for the reminder.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Go west you national politicians and pundits

Once again, yet again, another reminder is offered on how to not only win the mountain west and rural west as a local but also a national. Of course, there is a mention of Governor Schweitzer:
Diary Of A Mad Voter: JP Pendleton
Candidates Could Find Campaign Wisdom In Rural West
JP Pendleton

"Flyover Country.” I’d probably call it an overused term if I hadn’t opened this paragraph with it. Nevertheless, much of the area we live in along the Rockies would clearly fall into this geographic region of relatively sparse population and darn nice scenery. One would only need to look at a nighttime photograph of the North American continent to see there is definitely some space between the bright spots out here.

Even with the ever-lengthening political season, the aspiring leaders of the free world have a finite amount of time to reach potential supporters and win their vote (and their donations). This means they need as much bang for their buck as they can get, and have to reach both the population centers and/or the states with the early primaries. This gives them votes and money and the all-important delegates for the national conventions in the summer.

In Montana, our relatively late primary (June) combined with our relatively low population density (one million folks in the fourth largest state in the Union) and proportionately few electoral votes (three) makes us a pretty uninviting target for the bare-knuckle combat of presidential politics.

That doesn’t mean we’re completely ignored. I remember listening to both Bush 41 and Bill Clinton speak at Rocky Mountain College in Billings during the summer and fall of 1992. Regardless, the numbers would indicate a fairly low electoral value on Montana and other Mountain West states – but I’m not as convinced that holds water when you take into account the practical views of those living in this easy-to-ignore region.

I would say in order to attract the Montana voter, one must first understand the political landscape and look at the political history of the state through a lens larger than the last cycle or two. The emergence of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer as one of the most popular Chief Executives in the Nation – the first Democrat in sixteen years to occupy the Capitol in Helena­and the recent ousting of three-term Republican Senator Conrad Burns would indicate at face value a shift from red to blue using the political color wheel.

However, a recent conversation with a political veteran in Helena reminded me of Montana’s strong democratic roots. Senator Conrad Burns was only the second Republican ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Montana – and the only one ever re-elected [since the adoption of the 17th Amendment providing for direct election of Senators by the people rather than the legislature]. One shouldn’t forget the deep union roots of Montana, and the strength of the labor and trade unions in the state, not to mention Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Burton K. Wheeler, Pat Williams, Max Baucus and a host of other prominent Democrats over the last century. Still, I think it would be fair to say Montana (and much of the west) has a strong independent and populist streak that has no qualms against breaking free of the traditional framework of Democrat or Republican.
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Campus Progress spneds time with Brian Schweitzer

Sure, there is an element of 'fluffiness' here but it remains an opportunity to get the word out about Brian Schweitzer:
Five Minutes With: Governor Brian Schweitzer

Ben Adler and Graham Webster
May 3, 2007

Just three years into his new career in electoral politics, Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana has been heralded as the epitome of an important new movement: prairie populism. A lifelong Montanan with a background in science and a career in international business, the political neophyte ran for governor of Montana as a Democrat in 2004 and won, even though the state voted for President Bush by a wide margin. Since then Schweitzer has set out to make his name on a handful of important issues in the West: creating clean energy, defending water and wildlife, protecting local farmers, and helping Native American tribes retain their traditions in public education. Campus Progress spoke with Schweitzer on the phone about his signature issues, and his penchant for casual clothing.

You were not a political figure for most of your life. What made you decide to go into politics?

I think if you look at the direction this country has taken over the last ten years and you are passionate about your community and you don’t get involved in politics, you are going to regret it later on. We need talented, new people in politics, and I simply just said, “I think I can do a better job than the jokers who are doing it now.” We need people who are willing to step up, people who will bring a new perspective to leadership­and that’s what I was doing.

There’s a lot of talk here in Washington about whether the Rocky Mountain West, a traditionally conservative region, is going to open up and turn purple or blue. Do you think it will, and if so, why?

On the East and West Coast people look at the map of the center of the country and they draw lines that are red and blue on it. But people don’t get up in the morning and go off to work thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t sit down with their family thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t go to church on Sunday thinking they’re red or blue. We just don’t think about it that way out here.

In the Rocky Mountain West, we have a tradition of libertarian populists. And out here in Montana, we didn’t like the notion of having this PATRIOT Act that allows the federal government to spy on us and collect a lot of other financial information about law abiding citizens. We didn’t have to see the report come out to see that the FBI would abuse this­every time they’ve been given this power in the past, they have, and they did again this time.

And the greatest thing about Montana and the Rocky Mountain West is that you’re never more than 30 minutes from great trout fishing. You’re never more than 30 minutes from a place where you can hike. You can raise a family, and that family not only will grow up being able to camp, hunt, and fish, but to hike in some of the most pristine places left on the planet, drink the water and eat the fish that you catch in that stream.

We want to protect that, so when Washington, D.C. has notions about coming out here and digging up all of Montana and drilling wells everyplace that we’ve got across the state, saying, “Well, we need your energy and we’re willing to sacrifice your backyard,” folks in Montana say, “No, I don’t think so.” We could produce our energy with alternative energy; We don’t want you to destroy our backyard.
Go here for the rest.

The Baltimore Sun invokes the name of Brian Schweitzer

We're surprised but delighted that a newspaper on the east coast brings up Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Read on:
Heck no

Baltimore Sun editorial
May 29, 2007

You gotta admire a governor who doesn't mince words about whether his state will comply with a knuckle-headed mandate from Washington as costly as it is offensive. "No, nope, no way, hell no" was how Montana's Brian Schweitzer put it, according to an Associated Press account of a recent ceremony in which the governor signed one of the strongest rejections so far of the federal law known as Real ID.

Montana is justly proud of being at the forefront of a national rebellion against an anti-immigrant measure the Republican Congress passed in 2005 that would turn state-issued driver's licenses into national identity papers through a chaotic and expensive process fraught with the possibility of privacy violations and identify theft.

This rebellion is a refreshing sign that common sense can prevail even when federal officials fan fears of international terrorism and threaten citizens of recalcitrant states that they won't be able to board airplanes. Nearly a dozen other states have also formally refused to participate in the program, and more than half are debating the choice.
Go here for the rest.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

it's been a while

Yes, it's been a while since our last post. The absence is due to various reasons -- being busy on a number of other projects, not a great deal of Governor Schweitzer news and certainly that he will not be leading a presidential campaign in 2008.

So, our posting will be slow here but we will continue to add items that catch our eye.
Great Falls Tribune editorial
May 17, 2007

'Square Deal' trumps 'Handshake'

There will be plenty of detailed analysis in the coming days and weeks on what the 60th Montana Legislature has wrought.

But one of the first things that strikes you as you look at the big picture is that the governor's Square Deal with Montana fared better than the Republicans' Handshake with Montana.

In fact, things went just about the way Gov. Brian Schweitzer predicted in a meeting with the Tribune editorial board four months ago.

At the time he said that lawmakers would engage in fiery rhetoric for 85 days and use tactics that would make everything look to be in jeopardy, but that in the last five days they'd come together and pass a budget, tax plans and programs to move the state forward.

We doubt if he expected the level of rhetoric ­ the gutter level in some cases ­ and some of the tactics that actually occurred, but he wasn't too far off.

Also, he didn't anticipate that those last five days would be days 91 through 95, a special session.

But in the final analysis the pieces that came together last Friday, Monday and Tuesday bore a striking resemblance to what the governor proposed back in December.

A few components were missing ­ special pursuit of out-of-state tax cheats died, for example, as did setting up a reserve fund to compensate counties with large amounts of protested taxes and a reduction in business equipment taxes ­ but the majority of his program made it through in some form.
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Governor Schweitzer interviewed on "Charlie Rose"

Again, we have been neglectful. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was recently a guest on "The Charlie Rose Show" and we have a link for those of you who missed the opportunity to see and hear Governor Schweitzer.

Here you go and luckily it's the first segment of the March 8, 2007 show: Charlie Rose and Brian Schweitzer

We have yet to find a transcript but will let you know if one becomes available.

Joe Klein discovers the Western Democrat

We have been neglectful, mainly due to other pressing obligations. So, let's play some catch-up here.

Joe Klein caught some heat for the following but we'll still take the publicity. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is the featured photo to Klein's article.
The Democrats' New Western Stars
Joe Klein
January 19, 2007

A week before the 2006 elections, I found myself in a holding room with a posse of prominent Colorado Democrats waiting to stage a rally in the city of Pueblo. Almost all of them were in full western regalia--cowboy hats and boots, blue jeans, western shirts and jackets, string ties or no ties at all. These were large people, as Westerners tend to be, and they were not shy. Several noted my rumpled, Eastern aspect and took pity on me. "We've got to get you some boots," said Bill Ritter, the Democratic candidate for Governor, who was about to be elected in a landslide.

"Feeling out of place?" asked a local state rep, a tall blond woman named Buffie McFayden, who greeted me with a black-power handshake and two Sammy Sosa heart kisses.

"Bet you never thought you'd find a politician named Buffie out in Colorado. I tell folks it's short for buffalo." McFayden, a force of nature, explained that her district had 12 prisons and a solid Republican majority that voted for her because "the right's gone so far to the right, you can't recognize them anymore. When the wingers accuse me of being a liberal, I say, Sure, if you mean that I'm in favor of staying out of people's private lives and balancing the budget and I'm against stealing."

And on it went as, one by one, I met the exuberant and slightly eccentric Democrats of Colorado--the hosts of the next Democratic National Convention, to be held in Denver in 2008. Each had a big personality and a distinctive personal history. Ritter, for example, was one of 12 children who grew up poor on a wheat farm; in 1986 he and his wife made a midlife decision to spend three years as Catholic missionaries in Africa, working at a nutrition center in Zambia. Then there were the "Salazar Boys." U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and his brother John, a member of Congress, were raised on a ranch without a telephone or electricity. Senator Salazar was the only freshman Democrat elected to the Senate from a red state during George W. Bush's 2004 victory. He is a moonfaced fellow whose modest demeanor belies his reputation as an ecumenical annoyer of special-interest groups. He once called Jim Dobson of Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based conservative Christian group, "the antichrist." But he was also one of the very few Democrats to stick with pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman after Lieberman lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont in Connecticut last summer.

Go here for the rest of this longish article that also features coverage of Brian Schweitzer.

The always interesting David Sirota provides his take here to Klein's article, with a particular emphasis on Klein's writing skills.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Brian Schweitzer delivers Democrats' national radio address in advance of President Bush's State of the Union address

January 20, 2006 - Helena, MT

Good morning. I'm Brian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana, the Big Sky Country.

On Tuesday, President Bush will deliver his annual State of the Union Address. He is expected to talk about the war in Iraq and the need for our country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about these topics, which are very important to all Americans.

Along with many people across the country, I have serious concerns about the President's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq. His plan is just more of the same.

I lived and worked in the Middle East for six years, Salam Alaikum to those who speak Arabic. There, I spent time with many Muslim families and like our families in the United States they want opportunities, freedom to work and live as they choose and the ability to make their country a better place for future generations.

Mr. President there are animosities between Sunni and Shiite people in the Middle East that have developed over centuries. Outsiders can not resolve this conflict unless the Iraqi people want security and freedom as least as much as us.

The American people expect, and our troops and military families deserve, a real plan for success in Iraq that includes political solutions as well as military action.

Mr. President I heard you say that you want to embed American troops with the Iraqi army in Baghdad. Please, don't embed our men and women within Baghdad beside untested and potentially corrupt members of the Iraqi military.

We could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform for the role that they play in protecting Americans at home and abroad. No one has sacrificed more than the military families at home who have a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Democratic Governors were helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil long before President Bush discovered our oil addiction just last year in his last State of the Union Address.

Here in Montana, for example, I have been working hard to promote renewable energy development and conservation, also to promote the development of coal to liquids facility as a bridge to new sustainable energy development and as an important step in reducing Montana's dependence on foreign oil.

Montana is producing renewable forms of energy including wind power and bio-diesel from oil seed crops. In Kansas, Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been promoting ethanol on the national stage. And she has made alternative energy a priority for her second term. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell has set energy efficiency standards for all state government vehicles.

This week I was proud of an action championed by Democrats in Congress. A bill was passed that will repeal $14 billion in subsidies given to big oil companies. The legislation also creates a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in clean, renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, promote new energy technologies, develop greater efficiency and encourage energy conservation.

Last year Montana oil producers increased their oil production and we will increase it again this year. Congress should not be giving subsidies to multinational corporations to develop oil fields for foreign dictators. The market is driving the exploration boom in Montana, not freebies from Congress.

We have enough energy resources and green technology in the United States to enable us to stop relying on foreign dictators to supply us with fuel.

Along with a smart strategy in Iraq, our energy independence can make us stronger and safer. We Americans use 6.5 billion barrels of oil a year. We only produce 2.5 billion ourselves. We import 4 billion from some of the world's worst dictators.

I've got a plan. We can save 1 billion barrels through conservation. Things like more efficient cars, homes and appliances. We can produce another 1 billion barrels of bio-fuels with crops like corn, soybeans, canola and camilina. My hope is Americans can produce 2 billion barrels a year from our enormous coal reserves to a clean-burning fuel for about $1.20 a gallon and for the next fifty years only touch a small fraction of our coal supplies.

We can achieve energy independence in 10 years, create a whole new industry with hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs, and you'll never have to send children and grandchildren to war in the Middle East again.

Mr. President lets create hundreds of thousands of jobs in America by producing our own clean fuels, bring our men and women home, and stop spending money in Iraq.

This is Brian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana.

Thank you for listening. God bless your family and God bless America.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Look west Democrats gets even more play

Here's yet another Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer profile. After digesting this, any reader will have a better understanding that the Dems have a national winner in the Big Sky State, one who will play well throughout this country if the opportunity arises.

The Kerrys, the Bidens and the like need to set their respective egos aside, settle in as elder statesmen and understand that there is a new Democratic Party nowadays filled with members who demonstrate the ability to not only connect but represent everyday people.
Dems look to Big Sky
By Karen E. Crummy
Denver Post Staff Writer

Helena, Mont. - In a state where voters backed a Republican candidate in nine of the past 10 presidential elections, Democrats suddenly find themselves in control of almost everything.

In the past two years, the party has taken control of the governor's office, the state Senate, and - depending on a Tuesday recount - has maintained a split in the state House. In the November general election, the party's U.S. Senate candidate also beat an entrenched Republican incumbent.

That makes Montana a political laboratory for national Democrats trying to determine what elements are needed for retaking the White House in 2008.

And when sorting through the reasons Democrats have taken hold in a conservative state, fingers frequently point first at Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Midway through his first term, Schweitzer, a relative political newcomer, is a self-described "pickup-driving, God-fearing, gun-toting, red-meat-eating, take-responsibility-for-my-actions, invest-in-education kind of Democrat..."

"He's that rare, high-energy individual that has 'the thing.' That Bill Clinton-Barack Obama thing," said Jerry Calvert, a political science professor at Montana State University.

He's a 6-foot-2-inch back- slapping, bear-hugging guy's guy who gave his wife a revolver for her birthday and takes his dog to the office - every day. He's also a calculating politician who chose a Republican for his running mate, and an expert on renewable resources, a master's degree holder and an Arabic speaker.
Go here to read the rest.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Brian Schweitzer does it again

Here's a little something I posted Thursday at another blog I maintain:

Not to take anything at all away from Jon Tester and his close victory over incumbent Conrad Burns but it simply wouldn't have happened without the emergence of Brian Schweitzer two years ago as Montana Governor.

Tester is going to be a tremendous United States Senator and such a refreshing change--a public official who will represent the middle class residents of the Big Sky state rather than the interests of the K Street pimps in D.C. Simply note this charming item from a Washington Post article dated November 9: "...Tester, who was running farm chores Thursday morning, picking up a barrel of oil in Great Falls on the way to his grain farm in Big Sandy..."

Schweitzer campaigned heavily for Tester, stamping Tester as one of his political kin and Schweitzer's sky-high approval rating in Montana obviously helped. Beating an incumbent is always difficult--it usually takes some extraordinary circumstances or events to do so--even a sap laden with Jack Abramoff dealings and offering at least one ludicrous verbal gaffe a week. In addition to Tester's 'one-of-us' appeal, the credibility Schweitzer offered to Tester is what closed the deal.

Although some will say New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is THE political heavyweight for Democrats in the Mountain West/Southwest, I beg to differ. Schweitzer has been one of the primary components in Montana's emergence as a blue state on the political map--a tremendous statewide accomplishment--while Richardson has been leading a state that has contained elements of 'blueness' all along. As for the future, Schweitzer offers a freshness and an ability to connect with common folk that Richardson, despite his arsenal of skills and abilities, cannot match electorally.

Yes, to my chagrin, it is too early in his political career to get Schweitzer on any sort of national bandwagon for 2008 but definitely follow THE Man in Montana. He's been one of the foremost components in demonstrating to the D.C. Dems that the Mountain West/Southwest is no longer a GOP stronghold. Schweitzer, and others, have broadened the ranks of the Democratic Party and that's a lot more than many of the more media-prominent D.C. Democrats can ever claim.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A You-Tube Brian Schweitzer + Jag boost for Jon Tester

Below is a fine You-Tube political ad featuring Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and his trusty sidekick Jag, in support of Jon Tester.

photo of Brian Schweitzer

Monday, October 16, 2006

Brian Schweitzer back east

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer headed back east for some speeches recently and this article provides good coverage. FYI -- He was asked about running for the White House in 2008 and his single-word answer was: "Nope." We'll see.
Governor gets press over Iraq, on ‘Colbert'
By NOELLE STRAUB Missoulian D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON - Speaking to a national audience here Friday, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the situation in Iraq has become a civil war and that the Bush administration has changed the goalposts for when American soldiers can come home.

Schweitzer's speech at the National Press Club ended a three-day swing to the nation's capital and New York City for a series of talks on energy policy and an appearance on Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report.”
After remarks about ending dependence on foreign oil through conservation, biodiesel, renewable energy and coal-to-liquid technologies, Schweitzer fielded questions about Iraq and how Montanans view the war.

Schweitzer said Montanans wonder when they will know it's time to leave Iraq and who will tell them.

“What is the mark on the wall?” he asked. “I heard, ‘When we create a democracy.' Well, they have a dang congress, 400-some members. I heard, ‘When they stand up, we will stand down.' There's 290,000 people in the Iraqi military, it's one of the largest militaries in the world.”

The governor said Montanans join the military in higher percentages than nearly any other state. “We are prepared to help in this national effort, but please tell us why we are still there and what is the mark on the wall?” he said.
To read the rest, go here.

Brian Schweitzer speaking to the National Press Club

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer took a short trip back East recently and, among other events, spoke to the National Press Club:
Schweitzer promotes coal-to-fuel technology at National Press Club
Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — It's a speech Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D, can give by heart — he starts off with talk of his faithful border collie, Jag, to lighten the mood, then digs in on alternative energy sources.

The prairie populist was in good form Friday at the National Press Club, where he spoke about coal-to-liquid-fuel technology and other ways to decrease the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Wearing his typical bolo tie and jeans, Schweitzer peppered his speech with jabs at Washington, saying states were taking the lead on finding solutions to global warming and the nation's energy problems.

"We use about 6.5 billion barrels of oil a year and 4 billion comes from off shores," he said. "The most important issue of this time is creating energy independence."

The speech follows Schweitzer's announcement last Monday of plans to build a $1.3 billion coal-to-liquid-fuel facility in central Montana.
To read the rest, go here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Brian Schweitzer featured in the lead on 'Montana Niracle' article

Governor Schweitzer is featured once more in an article not only about the change from Republican to Democratic governance in Montana but throughout the American west. Here goes:
Miracle in Montana
Ted S. McGregor Jr.
Pacific Northwest Inlander

Imagine the scene: The candidate strides into the capital rotunda, followed by dark-suited men carrying briefcases. The gathered reporters open their notebooks. Camera flashes go off. On cue, the cases are opened, and piles upon piles of cash are dumped all over the floor of the place where the people's business is done. The shocked silence is finally broken by that candidate's righteous, booming voice, decrying the corruption that lobbyists and their briefcases full of money bring.

No, you don't have to daydream it, or experience it in an old Frank Capra movie; it really happened, in the Montana capital in Helena back in 2004. That politician was Brian Schweitzer, a mint farmer from Whitefish who was well on his way to winning the governor's job.

Oh yeah, and Schweitzer's a Democrat.

From out-of-control spending to indictments to botched wars to cover-ups, it's pretty clear that Republicans are trying their best to hand over the reins of government to the Democrats. But will the Dems grab them? Since being pushed aside in the 1994 Republican Revolution and then landing on the wrong side of the Florida non-recount, Democrats have been lost in the wilderness.

But in Montana, of all places, Democrats have found themselves.
Go here to read the rest.

Monday, October 09, 2006

NY Times Magazine does a feature on Brian Schweitzer

Maybe this will a big momentum generator as the New York Times Magazines on Sunday carried a feature story on Governor Schweitzer. You may agree with most of Governor Schweitzer's positions, or you may not, but name another Democrat who has his national appeal? Schweitzer could win every state John Kerry did, plus Ohio, maybe Florida and a number of Mountain West states. After what we have gone through for so many years now, people in this country are desperate for intelligence and authenticity in our leaders.

C'mon Democrats--here's a winner.
October 8, 2006
The Big-Sky Dem
By Mark Sundeen
NY Times Magazine

It’s fun being governor of Montana. Just watch Brian Schweitzer bouncing around the streets of Helena in the passenger seat of the state’s official S.U.V., fumbling with wires, trying to stick the flashing police light on the roof. When he spots some legislators on the sidewalk, he blasts them with the siren, then summons them by name on the loudspeaker. The men jump, and the governor tumbles out of the car, doubled in laughter, giving everyone a bear hug or a high-five or a soft slap on the cheek. Schweitzer, a Democrat in his first term, marches into a barroom in blue jeans and cowboy boots and a beaded bolo tie, and his border collie, Jag, leaps out of the vehicle and follows him in. The governor throws back a few pints of the local brew and introduces himself to everyone in the place, down to the servers and a small girl stuck there with her parents. He takes time from the backslapping to poach cubes of cheese from the snack platter and sneak them to the girl, who is now chasing his dog around the bar. “This is how you make friends with Jag,” he advises her. “Just hold it in your hand and let him take it.”

As soon as Schweitzer was elected in 2004 — the same night that George W. Bush carried Montana by 20 percentage points — pundits began declaring him the future of the Democratic Party. Never mind that it was his first elected office: the 51-year-old farmer and irrigation contractor had folksy charm and true-grit swagger. He shot guns, rode horses, took his dog to work and decimated his opponents with off-the-cuff one-liners heavy on the bull-and-horse metaphors. He didn’t act like a Democrat, in other words, and to many Democrats, reeling from consecutive losses to Bush, that seemed like a pretty good thing.

Schweitzer’s grandparents were homesteaders who immigrated to Montana from Ireland and Germany. His parents were ranchers who never completed high school. And until 2000, Schweitzer and his wife, Nancy, were farming in Whitefish and raising their three children. And then, despite the fact that he was a virtual unknown in politics, Schweitzer began a quixotic bid to oust Conrad Burns, a two-term incumbent Republican senator. To the surprise of Montana’s political class, he came within four percentage points of succeeding. Almost immediately, he began campaigning for what would be an open governor’s seat. Even after choosing a Republican as his running mate, he thumped his primary opponent by a 52-point margin, then won the general election by four points.

Within months of his election, bloggers were clamoring for a presidential run, and his popularity transcended the wonk journals to include coronation as “Hot Governor” by Rolling Stone magazine, while “60 Minutes” called him the Coal Cowboy. On camera he persuaded Lesley Stahl to take a whiff from a vial of diesel fuel synthesized from coal — a product that Schweitzer claims will not only fill Montana’s coffers but also help end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil peddled by “sheiks, rats, crooks, dictators.”

Schweitzer’s “Montana miracle,” in which Democrats took back the governor’s seat after 16 years and ended 12 years of Republican majorities in both state chambers, has been cited as evidence that the Republican bastions in the Western states are losing ground to a new, Democratic brand of libertarian-tinged prairie populism. No fewer than four recent books by Democratic strategists have mentioned Schweitzer as the kind of guy Democrats need to win back rural America. A fifth book, Tom Schaller’s “Whistling Past Dixie,” published earlier this month, also singles out Schweitzer and makes the previously heretical claim that the Democrats’ future lies in ignoring the South and embracing the West and Midwest, where voters are less evangelical and more independent.
Go here to read the rest.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Brian Schweitzer to appear before National Press Club

Mark October 13 on your calendar as Brian Schweitzer has another appearance that will hopefully bestow upon him more national media coverage. He is scheduled to speak before the National Press Club:
The following is a schedule of upcoming luncheons at the National Press Club. National Press Club events are open to NPC members and their guests only. Credentialed press may cover Luncheons and Newsmakers. Events listed are subject to last-minute changes. Space may be reserved at any NPC Luncheon by calling 202-662- 7501. To save time and avoid waiting in line, tickets can be paid for in advance by using a credit card or putting tickets on a house account if there is a credit card on file with the Club. Reservations are not required for Newsmakers, unless otherwise noted.

October 13, 2006 -- Governor Brian Schweitzer, Montana. Topic: Gov. Schweitzer will be discussing his vision for America’s energy future.

I-153 a model for Congress?

The following is an article about the need for I-153, the Montana initiative that at least slows the revolving door for individuals shuttling between legislator and lobbyist positions.

Such shuttling is but one longtime bane of local, state and national politics--but I-153 is a good beginning. Lobbying is all about money and access and not necessarily what is good for a city, state or country. For the ordinary citizen who cannot afford to 'play-to-play' -- expecting that our representatives have our best interest at heart -- well, we are just not allowed into the legislative equation.

I stop just short of calling lobbyist 'donations' legalized bribery. It can be difficult to 'prove' a quid pro quo but the taint is enough, or should be enough, for any legislator to reconsider accepting 'contributions' from an entity attempting to push or negate a piece of legislation.

That's just basic personal morality.
Capitol cleansing
John S. Adams

Does Helena’s “revolving door” need closing?

Gov. Brian Schweitzer wants to clean up state government, and since he couldn’t get the state Legislature to help him do it during the 2005 session, he’s taking his plan straight to voters in November.

Schweitzer is a key backer of I-153, the ballot initiative that would reform lobbying in Montana by requiring a two-year cooling off period for legislators, appointed state officials, elected state officials, and personal staff of elected state officials before they can become licensed lobbyists.

“If you were in the Legislature on Dec. 30 and on Jan. 1 you’re now working for the company that you were regulating or setting tax policy for, people are going to ask, ‘When did you negotiate that contract? When did you know that you were going to leave the employ of the people of Montana and join the employ of the company that you were supposed to be fairly taxing and regulating? When was this deal cooked?’ It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Schweitzer says. “What I’m trying to do is keep people from negotiating their next job when they are supposed to be representing the interests of the people of Montana.”

So far the measure faces no organized opposition, but not everybody in Helena thinks the reform is warranted.
To read the rest, go here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brian Schweitzer continues his progress with the outdoors

Matt Singer, Left In The West, offers this article on Governor Schweitzer fulfilling his promises to aid those who like to get out and enjoy the environment:

Schweitzer to Expand Outdoor Access

by Matt Singer
Left In The West blog

In line with Montana’s sportsman traditions, Governor Schweitzer rolled out another piece of his “Square Deal” today: Expanding access to the outdoors through new state park lands, fishing access, and free fishing licenses for children and seniors.

Here’s the meat of the proposal: link