Western Senate Races, the heart of Swinging 2006 to the left
The 2006 Senate races will be a big time in the West. Its an opportunity to show that the Democratic Party is the real deal in the West, with most of the western states having contested Senate races. If you were to choose on Western Republican to go after, it would be Senator Burns of Montana.
Montana is the romantic heart of the Western Democrat movement, with our sweep last year. Only Colorado came close to matching the enthusiasm in Montana, and they have an open race for Governor to hang their hat on in 2006.
Burns is looking everyday like a more vulnerable candidate. If Bush’s Social Security fiasco can be hung around his neck or he can become the Judy Martz of 2006 (a Montana Republican known far and wide as being corrupt), and if his lackluster re-elect numbers stay low, I think he’s beatable
At the same time, Democrats are already lining up to take a shot at him:
At least four Democrats are being considered or being mentioned as possible candidates next year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Conrad Burns.
Daniel Kemmis of Missoula, an attorney and former Montana House speaker who heads the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, a research think tank at the University of Montana.
John Morrison of Helena, an attorney who was re-elected as state auditor in November and serves as Montana's insurance and securities commissioner.
Leo McDonnell of Columbus, founder and president of R-CALF, a national cattlemen's group.
Jon Tester of Big Sandy, an organic grain farmer who is president of the Montana Senate this session.
My favorite, for obvious reasons, is Kemmis:
Kemmis, 59, sent a letter to the Democratic Party's executive board saying he's looking at the race, but has made no decision yet to run. He said he knows there are some other good Democrats also considering it and wants to make sure the party gets the best possible candidate.
"For me, it's party a matter of having grown up idolizing Mike Mansfield and absorbing his great respect for the U.S. Senate both as a great deliberative body and as a counter balance to the executive branch when it takes a wrong turn,'' Kemmis said.
Among his attributes, Kemmis said, are having been being born and raised on a farm in Eastern Montana and retaining those roots, while having substantial experience working with the more urban side of the state.
"My real strength has been bringing different factions together to figure out what they have in common urban and rural, environmentalists and loggers,'' said Kemmis, author of several books on the role of communities. "The bridge building and problem solving that I've devoted my career to would be of value in the Senate.''
Another great resource, the Burns page at DSCC.
Emmett O'Connell | April 1, 2005 | Comment on This Post (3 so far)
Your Personal Note:
"Burns is looking everyday like a more venerable candidate."
Do you mean "vulnerable" candidate? "Venerable" doesn't make sense in the context of your article.
Posted by: katty | Apr 2, 2005 8:11:54 PM
Kemmis is a great person and would make a great senator (I had the opportunity to sit in on a pre-campain meeting with the man) and I would love to see him in the office. But actually getting their is another story. Kemmis is coming out of Missoula (the liberal island of Montana) and people are not incredibly receptive of missoula politics and politicians in the rest of the state. I haven't decided yet as to who I would give my vote in the primary, but right now its a close one between the philosopher Kemmis and the organic farmer Jon Tester. Jon Tester is a very good man, speaks straight, and seems to rise above the fray of traditional Montana politics. As far as the general election goes, the chances of Tester pulling the needed votes looks better than Kemmis (especially in the rural districts).
Posted by: derf | Apr 5, 2005 8:42:59 PM
I just want to respond to Colorado's getting the second fiddle there. For 2006, we have more than just a governor's race to hang our hats on. Sure we have to win that, but we've also got to fend off a gay marriage initiative run by no less a foe than James Dobson's Focus on the Family, defend John Salazar's CO-3 seat (one of the top defenses in the country for Dems), win the open seat vacated by Bob Beauprez (CO-7; one of the top races period), help Mark Udall win big (CO-2) in order to set up his 2008 Senate run against Wayne Allard (which Allard might well opt out of if Udall has a strong showing), and maintain our all-important control over the state House and Senate.
Along with Montana, Colorado is a place where true Western Dems, with great approaches to resource use issues, the family, education, and the budget, are demonstrating that out here in the Inland West the momentum is 100% on our side. My humble opinion: there will be no more important, no more interesting place for Dems to be in the country in the Summer and Fall of 2006 than Colorado.
Posted by: Gringo | Apr 6, 2005 12:37:33 AM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)