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Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoes Republican legislation using a branding iron.
Vetoing Republican bills in his uniquely Montanan fashion.
Today's unexpected news of Sen. Max Baucus retirement is both the best and worst news of the day.

It's the worst news, because like Joe Lieberman, it would've been more fun for his state's voters to forcefully retire him. Word from Montana was that while former Gov. Brian Schweitzer isn't crazy about the idea of serving in the Senate, there were a couple of factors working in favor of those of us wishing to see him swap out Baucus: Schweitzer is genuinely interested in running for president (or being vice president), and taking out Baucus would be a great way to ingratiate himself with activist base voters. Also, Schweitzer and Baucus have a long-running blood feud over health care. Schweitzer was a loud and vocal proponent of single payer health care and drug reimportation from Canada, while Baucus was an asshole on those issues.

But of course, today's news was also the best news of the day because, quite frankly, that asshole is gone. Ron Wyden now takes over the Senate Finance Committee, which is huge. It's hard to overstate the impact of that move. Remember, it was Baucus in Finance who undermined and sabotaged Obamacare throughout 2009, giving us not just a far weaker law than we could've had, but costing us big in the 2010 elections.

And, the opportunity for Schweitzer is still there. Sure, he doesn't get to be the conquering hero by taking out Baucus by force, but the opportunity to have a fighting-style populist Dem in the Senate, willing to be partisan and aggressive and surprisingly progressive (single payer, pro-marriage equality, etc.) will play well. He certainly isn't ruling anything out.

On Tuesday morning Schweitzer said he’s currently focused on saving Stillwater Mine. Schweitzer, along with New York Hedge Fund the Clinton Group, is in the midst of an attempt to take-over the struggling mine, which employs 1,664 workers in the state [...]

“First we’re going to save 1,700 jobs, then we’ll see what the future holds,” Schweitzer said. “I’ve been working on this for the last four months...I’ll climb that mountain and then take a look around and see what the future holds."

That corporate board vote is May 2. Meanwhile, former Schweitzer staffers are already gearing up for a potential run.

In case you're wondering about numbers, the last and only public poll of the Montana Senate race, by PPP, had Schweitzer performing better than Baucus in general election matchups against the GOP, though it would still be a close race. His 56-37 favorability rating significantly bested Baucus' 48-45 job approval rating.

Finally, note that Schweitzer is a solidly pro-gun Democrat. But so is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Being pro-gun doesn't mean being anti-all-and-every restriction, and he's already made clear that he's in favor of expanded background checks. If he wants to make a serious run for the White House, a Senate race would be a good place to establish himself as serious and responsible on gun ownership.

Schweitzer will be a stellar upgrade in the Senate, if he chooses to run. Sign our petition urging him to run, and pledging your support if he does. First person to sign that petition?

Me.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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