(In the final days of an election, there is so much information from so many races, it's difficult to stay on top of every story and understand the subtle dynamics often at play on the ground. Thankfully, we have an expansive 50-state blogosphere to match our 50-state strategy. Over the last two weeks of the campaign, we've asked leaders of the state blogospheres to provide insight into late developments and share the stories of their states in a series we're calling "Listening to the Locals." SusanG)
Situated in the Rocky Mountains, Montana is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Still, politically, it's just a flyover state, with less than a million people, a single at-large representative in the House, and three Electoral College votes, right? Why fuss over Montana?
Because Montana's political environment is ideal for creating the Western Democrat. With a strong streak of libertarianism mixed with a heaping dash of economic populism, the state's electorate prefers Democrats that are outspoken, independent, and genuine. That, along with Montana's beautiful open spaces, creates progressive politicians with a strong conservation ethos, that champion individual civil liberties, and who defy conventional rhetoric when advocating for issues important to their state.
That's how we ended up with Senator Jon Tester and Governor Brian Schweitzer.
Over at Left in the West, I've been thwacking wasp's nests with sticks by urging Montana's superdelegates to commit to voting with the outcome of the state's June primary. None would.
And then, lo! Kossak bajadude reported that Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was rounding up the remaining uncomitted superdelegates and getting them to sign a petition to commit to supporting the candidate with the most delegates at convention time!
Naturally, I duly posted and commented on the contents of the Kos diary.
Two hours later, my phone rang. It was Governor Schweitzer.
In an interview on Yellowstone Public Radio
Monday, Montana's Republican Representative Denny Rehberg said the blogs should be controlled because "you can write or say anything."
The other statewide race this election - the House race - just isn't getting much attention. It pits incumbent Denny Rehberg (R) against challenger Monica Lindeen
(D), in another battle between a corrupt and out-of-touch DC insider and a feisty Montana Democrat with an excellent record in the state legislature.
As spring trickles across the valleys of Montana and up the slopes of its mountains, its citizens debate light rail, the delisting of grizzly bear and wolves, and the encroachment of big box stores. A Wim Wenders movie set in Butte premiered there. Governor Brian Schweitzer asked wayward Montanans to return to the state – with wallets, please, while the state board of education passed an anti-bullying policy, despite state conservatives’ objection to an acknowledgement that victims of bullying might be targeted because of their “sexual orientation.”
This month is calving season
, the temperature dropped to twenty below
, and Montana contemplated the state quarter
, the anti-meth campaign
, the economic impact of losing its missile silos
and is abandoned by its Air America affiliate
Governor Brian Schweitzer chewed out two UofMT professors who claimed the state could lure business by changing existing environmental and economic laws. It turns out Montana is already one of the most business-friendly states in the union. Pundits find hidden meaning in the governor's decision to let nine bison roam unhindered outside of Yellowstone National Park, but are generally mum on Schweitzer's 60 Minutes appearance.
Missoula wraps up its Wildlife Film Festival; Environmental groups use Glacier National Park in a bid to halt global warming; the federal government slashes funding for Indian clinics; legislators want to protect the state from Wyoming water; Helena's Montana State Library bans freedom of speech; and Senator Max Baucus leads a rally against federal plans to sell off Montana public lands to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.