In case you missed it, the Associated Press had a very revealing report over the weekend that highlighted the absence of popular Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) from the campaign trail for Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
I’ll have that for you in a second, but first, here’s a great quote regarding the Rehberg-Tester race, as contained in this Washington Post profile piece:
“Honestly, Tester and Rehberg have to feel like they are running a marathon on a treadmill without an iPod: 26 miles of nothing but the same,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for the independent Cook Political Report.
Back in February only 19 percent of voters guessed that Tester voted at least 90 percent of the time with Obama, according to the challenger’s polling. That number has now grown to more than 50 percent of voters aware of that statistic, and Rehberg’s campaign asserts that it is winning by a 3-to-1 ratio among those voters.
The big story, that seems to have largely gone under the radar with the East Coast media; however, is this story from the AP. That’s where the Tester camp basically said: we don’t need Gov. Schweitzer.
The AP’s Matt Gouras has this:
Gov. Brian Schweitzer has so far been a bystander in the state’s big U.S. Senate race showdown — and he says he thinks he’s more effective helping down-ticket Democrats.
Polling shows that Schweitzer remains the most popular politician in the state. But U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has not brought Schweitzer in as a surrogate on the campaign trail even though both are friendly and complimentary of one another.
The Tester campaign said the former state senator from Big Sandy admires Schweitzer’s leadership and past help — even if not needed this time.
I suspect there is a lot more to this story. To suggest that Gov. Schweitzer is not needed on the campaign trail is hardly believable. He’s consistently polling at 60% and higher for his approval rating.
What could be behind the Governor’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for the Tester re-election effort? Disagreements on energy policy? Personality conflicts? A potentially brewing fight between Gov. Schweitzer and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) in 2014? Or, could it be tied to Obamacare, which was written by Baucus and could not have passed without Jon Tester’s crucial vote?
Gov. Schweitzer has every right to be irritated with Montana’s two Democratic US Senators. I wouldn’t say the Montana Democratic Party was dead before he came along, but Gov. Schweitzer certainly set Montana Democrats on a path to victory for decades to come. And then, what happened in 2010? Max Baucus and Jon Tester’s actions in Washington, DC helped lead to decimating Democratic losses in Montana’s legislative elections. Schweitzer cut them a path, and for some reason, they and many other statewide Democrats decided to go off on their own little venture into the wilderness.
You may recall, during the Democratic National Convention earlier this year, Gov. Schweitzer had this to say on CNN:
President Obama is not going to help any candidate in Montana. If you are a congressional candidate in Montana and you’re a Democrat- it’s gonna hurt you. But if you’re running for Governor in Montana you can be completely separate from those skunks back in Washington, DC. You don’t have to pay any attention to them at all, everybody knows that a Democrat in Montana has nothing in common with that smell in Washington.
Schweitzer has criticized Obamacare, saying it could bankrupt the State of Montana. His criticism of Obama policies, backed by Tester, doesn’t stop there. In fact, as The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s OpenMarket.org blog notes, Gov. Schweitzer was recently critical of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul reform bill during an appearance on HBO:
Yet listen (at 37:55; HBO subscription required) to the the exact words of Montana’s outgoing Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer on the show:
Banks that actually did their job like in Montana – where we didn’t have banks go upside down, because they made you bring your financials in and they’d only loan you money if they understood your business plan – now, they are the ones that are being penalized. They now have more regulation on them, and it’s more difficult for them to make the loans. The very banks that were doing their job are having a tougher time because of the banks that are too big to fail.
Fellow panelist Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), there to represent conservatives, replied with a grin to Schweitzer, “I knew there was something I liked about you.”
Click below to watch the video of Gov. Schweitzer on HBO: