But a new brand of Western Democrats have redefined the issue in terms that are actually advantageous to our party, and can help peel away a huge and solid GOP voting bloc.
Out here in the Montana, for instance, Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has made the preservation of his state's hunting/fishing access laws a top priority. In Wyoming, Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) signed legislation giving citizens more leverage over oil and gas companies when those companies use their land. And in Colorado, Democratic legislators pushed legislation forcing oil and gas companies to pay up when they harm private property.
These are lessons for congressional Democrats looking to play offense in red-states in 2006, and at least some are already moving forward. For instance, Colorado Rep. Mark Udall (D) and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) have strong, pro-hunter legislation on the table. The more focus on these issues from Democrats, the better.
As Mehlman and Co chip away at traditional Democratic blocs, we can't sit still without raiding enemy turf. If we get the outdoorsmen, we make the Republicans' job a hell of a lot more difficult.