What a great night. Not only did the best Democrat win, but so did Conrad Burns' worst nightmare. Say hello to the next Senator from the great state of Montana:
Congratulations to the hundreds, if not thousands, of Tester volunteers on the ground in Montana who actually made this happen. A hat tip to all your efforts. Of course, now the really hard part begins -- taking down a sitting U.S. senator. We're all counting on you!
This has been a race I've been following since -- get this -- December 2004.
State Democrats are bubbling with excitement at their sudden reemergence. They believe they can take Republican Conrad Burns in the 2006 Senate race, who just barely defeated current Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer in the 2000 contest. Dems are looking to John Tester, a bona fide Western farmer (complete with missing finger from farming accident) who is now Senate Majority Leader. He's literally from the middle of nowhere, and naturally speaks the language of rural America.
Of course, Morrison jumped in and complicated things. But this was the perfect primary. Demcoratic voters in Montana got a clear choice between a populist Democrat in the mold of Gov. Schweitzer and a DLC rising star from a prominent political family. Both campaigns kept it clean against each other (for the most part), and kept the heat on Burns. And tester was forced to put together a field operation and hone his message far in advance of the November election.
In the end, money, pedigree, and (early) institutional support weren't enough against a dedicated people-powered movement. Regular people can and have made a difference tonight.
Now, Tester can take what he has learned and kick it up a notch, because things are going to get UGLY in Montana. Burns is the nation's most unpopular senator, and he won't win by force of his record. He'll try to win by dragging Tester down into the mud with him.
So it's not too early to start helping. Just picture it -- a new Senate in 2007 with Jon Tester, Bernie Sanders, and Ned Lamont. It would be a whole new ballgame in Washington D.C. Let's do everything we can to make it happen.