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NYT Magazine: The Big-Sky Dem: Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana [View All]

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 10:03 AM
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NYT Magazine: The Big-Sky Dem: Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana
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The Big-Sky Dem
Published: October 8, 2006

(Catherine Ledner for The New York Times)
Governor Schweitzer

....(Governor Brian) Schweitzers Montana miracle, in which Democrats took back the governors 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 Schallers 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.

Hes one of the new stars in the party, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, told me recently. Were highlighting him wherever we can. Indeed, just 54 days into his term, Schweitzer was chosen to deliver the Democrats weekly radio address, and he has been attracting notice from the party faithful ever since like when he compared the president to a shifty cattle auctioneer hawking lousy bulls to dubious ranchers.

Six-foot-two and a beefy 205 pounds, Schweitzer has seized the heartland imagery generally monopolized by Republicans. Schweitzer is the antithesis of the Democrat stereotype, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, of, the partisan Democratic blog, told me. Too many Democrats look like targets for the school bully. Schweitzer is a tough guy. And people like guys who will bar-fight their way across a state.

Schweitzer veers right on many economic and social issues: he opposes gun control, favors the death penalty and preaches about lowering taxes and balancing budgets. At the same time, he leans left on some issues that matter to progressives: championing energy conservation and environmental regulation, opposing governmental restrictions on abortion and criticizing free-trade deals. Hes as much a prairie centrist as he is a prairie populist, Bruce Reed of the Democratic Leadership Council told me. Schweitzer has the ability to reduce a complicated issue to a few sharp lines, reframing it with themes of patriotism and underdog know-how. I was a critic of Nafta, I was a critic of Cafta and Ill be a critic of Shafta, he says of free-trade agreements, long the hobgoblin of even the most articulate liberal politicians. Why is it that America supposedly creates the best businessmen in the world, but when we go to the table with the third world, we come away losers?...
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