Here at Western Democrat, we have previously made the case for Bill Richardson for President or Vice President. But consider another prominent Western Democrat for the currently open position of Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency, namely Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana.
The vice presidential nominee has four roles: to help the ticket win in November, to serve as a loyal part of the new administration, to assume the presidency should disaster strike, and, under happy circumstances, to lead the party eight years hence. Governor Schweitzer is an attractive candidate for all four tasks.
Governor Schweitzer would be a great candidate. He is the popular Democratic governor of a red to purple state who knows how to appeal to Republicans and Independents. He would reinforce the Obama message of turning the page on the red/blue divide of the last decade. He has a natural, folksy charm that would play well on the national stage. He is from way outside Washington in a year when voters are hungry for change in Washington. He does not play into the GOP stereotype of an out of touch Eastern liberal, yet he effectively champions Democratic issues such as education and healthcare. He does not have a trail of potentially controversial votes on wedge issues in the Senate. He is old enough to be successful and experienced both in the private and public sectors, including international experience, while young enough to be a vigorous campaigner. He understands national issues that are particularly important to the West such as energy and water, the West being rich in energy, but chronically short of water. He could help swing crucial states in the West. Montana has only three electoral votes, but he would automatically put his state in play. Neighboring North Dakota is potentially swingable and has three electoral votes. In the rest of the West, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, with a combined nineteen electoral votes, will be critical battlegrounds, and having a Westerner on the ticket would help. The sum total is the equivalent of swinging one big state, which is about the best that a vice presidential nominee can hope to do. Moreover, Governor Schweitzer would be a reassuring choice for a number of wavering constituencies all across the country that the party needs in November.
Governor Schweitzer could serve in an Obama administration without carrying any baggage from the long contest for the nomination. He would bring executive experience to the new administration. He could represent Western and rural constituencies inside a White House with an urban and Midwestern President. And though his easy and down-to-earth demeanor tends to hide it, his successes in life and politics are the natural product of a first-rate mind. Of course, only Senator Obama can tell us if their two personalities are a good working fit.
Given all these assets, I would feel very comfortable with a President Schweitzer should he ascend to the nation’s highest office, ideally eight and a half years hence, after having served President Obama loyally and well.
Leo Brown | June 5, 2008 | Comment on This Post (5 so far)
Jay over at 4&20 blackbirds points to a Hill article that gets into the ongoing debate (which we all for sure wish would stop) of who can really take credit for the Democratic win in the Senate, especially for Tester winning in Montana.
Of course, Sen. Schumer of New York is saying that it was the great database they helped build, but Jay has other thoughts:
Here’s what I know. I wouldn’t have joined the Missoula Democrats, volunteered for Tester, or started blogging without Dean’s infrastructure.
The voter lists were nice… but about a gazillion organizations had similar lists. How many of you Democratic-leaning Montana voters received phone calls this election, raise your hands! And how many of you received like a gajillion phone calls?
Jon won that race. Montanans won that race. Thanks for all the money, though.
There's something to be said for DC based power types taking too much credit for wins in the West. Conrad Burns would still be a Senator had not Tester decided to run (at least I'm convinced of that). Tester was the right guy at the right time, and no amount of really great data would have put a bad candidate over the top.
If anyone is going to take credit, the organization that put the race in the well trained hands of Montanan Democrats deserves some credit. But, Montanans deserve the most.
This could be a huge development for America's energy future and a large step in the right direction for renewable energy projects across the West:
House Democrats in the first weeks of the new Congress plan to establish a dedicated fund to promote renewable energy and conservation, using money from oil companies.
That's only one legislative hit the oil industry is expected to take next year as a Congress run by Democrats is likely to show little sympathy to the cash-rich, high-profile business.
Whether the issue is rolling back tax breaks - some approved by Congress only 18 months ago - pushing for more use of ethanol and other biofuels instead of gasoline, or investigations into shortfalls in royalty payments to the government, oil industry lobbyists will spend most of their time playing defense.
Details of a renewable fuels fund have yet to be worked out.
Nonetheless, it's one of the initiatives the House will take up during its first 100 hours in session in January, according to aides to Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. At least some of the money - revenue gained by rolling back some tax breaks - will go to a program to support research into making ethanol from sources other than corn.
This article goes into some other length about improperly written lease agreements with oil and gas companies that will end up (if properly modified) to return almost 10 billion dollars to the Federal Government. That's money that can be spend on the future of our country, not the past.
When I read articles like these I think about all the perceptual changes that will start to come about now that the Democrats control both Houses of Congress. When average hard working Americans see the minimum wage increase, see ethics reforms and see their government investing money in the future than we can start to build on the progressive gains made this year out here in the West or anywhere where hard working Americans want a government that works for them.
2008 Democratic Convention Watch points to an interesting tale told by Novak, in which he lays bare a badly kept secret about a convention in New York and Hillary Clinton:
Denver lacks sufficient hotel facilities, a suitable arena and labor union support, not to mention adequate financing. But when New York was leaked as the site, the reaction was so negative that Dean delayed a decision. Party members complained that it would be the fourth out of the last nine Democratic conventions scheduled for New York. Backers of Hillary Clinton don't want her nominated in her place of residence. George H.W. Bush and John Kerry lost elections when nominated in their respective hometowns of Houston and Boston.
2008 Democratic Convention watch points out that Hillary is publicly backing New York, but that going back to the 1950s, Presidential candidates who are nominated too close to home have a hard go at it.
Wouldn't it be ironic that Clinton's pre-primary inside the party power -- before she fizzles out in front of voters and caucus goers -- could put the convention out West?
Emmett O'Connell | December 24, 2006 | Comment on This Post (3 so far)
I like seeing positive coverage of the West's man in 2008, Bill Richardson:
Richardson would have to be considered a serious contender, no matter what his ethnicity. He's got the goods. Having served as a member of Congress, a Cabinet secretary and U.N. ambassador, Richardson also has the benefit of being a governor -- in a Democratic field likely to be chock-full of senators, in a country where voters haven't elected a senator to the presidency since 1960. He won re-election this year with 69 percent of the vote.
This just isn't any blogger - this is Ruben Navarette, nationally syndicated columnist and CNN politics opinion writer. After the deluge of positive "Western Democrat" coverage after the election, people are starting to see Richardson for what he is - the Democrats best chanced for an experienced executive with foreign policy experience that can solidify and build on the Western gains seen with this last election.
Mr. Navarette sees even more (some hope) for our country in a Richardson candidacy:
That's Richardson. His mother was born in Mexico, and his father was an American businessman. Richardson was raised in Mexico City before going off to prep school in Massachusetts and then earning college and graduate degrees at Tufts University. Being of two worlds -- bilingual, bicultural and binational -- he is well-suited to introduce one to the other.
One of the biggest thing holding our country back is not reconciling our true place within the Americas - our hemispheric neighbors that should be our natural allies and friends. Some of the greatest of our leaders - FDR and JFK - realized that by pursuing a fairer and more just policy with our southern neighbors and northern neighbor that we would become safer and greater nation overall.
Out here in the west, we've been getting used to the idea of being closer to our southern neighbors for a long time with many of us even tracing our lineage that way. Having someone in a leadership role facilitate a broader dialogue between all peoples of the Americas could be an enormous challenge and also offer a large potential for hope.
But, before all that it's nice to see Bill Richardson getting some positive national coverage this early in the race. The talking heads saying this race is Barack vs Hillary more than a year before the first votes are extremely premature.
Don't discount the western governor with the experience that matters most.
This is wonderful:
The New West Project, headquartered in Denver, will conduct research and develop strategies to secure and exploit recent Democratic gains in the Western states, party sources said.
At least four Western governors - Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Bill Ritter, Colorado's governor-elect - are expected to lead the group's advisory council, the sources said. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado and other members of Congress will provide "strategic guidance."
Reid confirmed the creation of the new organization, which he said would "build upon the leadership of people such as governors Napolitano, Richardson and Schweitzer" and "work to focus attention on the West."
This is a high level group. Consider the Western Strategy in play, my friends. It is wonderful to see this sort of institutional arrangement that will only benefit our local, state and national candidates long term. It looks like part think tank, part strategy firm, part communications development - all aspects that will be welcome by the plethora of candidates that will be running these next few cycles to take advantage of our our new promise out here in the west.
The best part of the article? The quote from an unnamed "Western Democrat":
As an example of what the new organization may do, the Western Democrat said that political professionals would analyze such questions as "the difference between first- and second-generation Hispanic voters, ... what motivates them and how we communicate with them," as well as "why a recent transplant from California, who has voted Republican all her life, is now voting for Democrats."
Good question, "Western Democrat" - it just leaves me amazed to see our namesake invoked so strikingly in an article. Methinks the author of the article, John Aloysius Farrell , might just be an reader of our humble site. If so, thanks for the article John - we'll be watching for you in the future.
It's great to have a new project designed for this express purpose and examining the multitude of new questions that are arising from the new political climate in the West. Now, if any of those people involved in the project are paying attention it would behoove them greatly to include netroots and blog outreach as an element of the project. You see, since major political focus has been absent from the West for awhile the netroots and blogosphere have been proliferating and recruiting top candidates all over the place. It would be an essential element of any plan that you should put together.
Here's the The New West Project!
Landon Mascareñaz | December 6, 2006 | Comment on This Post (0 so far)
Boo NYC, Go Denver!
There is a lot going on right now in terms of choosing the site of the 2008 Democratic Nation Convention.
Here are two good places that I seemed to have totally missed (hat tip to DemNotes, a great blog written by the Colorado Democratic vice chair):
At least symbolically, the choice is clear. We can either go back east, from Boston to New York City and reaffirm our Northeast roots as a party. Or, strike out West.
Here is a nice development that I (again) didn't notice. State chairs are for Denver (hat tip to the convention watch blog):
An overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party’s state leaders believe their party should make a statement about its Western resurgence and national aspirations by selecting Denver over New York for the 2008 convention.
Of 36 state party chairs who gave a preference when surveyed by The Denver Post, 31 chose Denver and five New York. Hawaii did not respond; the rest had no clear favorite.
“Colorado is a great venue to talk about winning the heartland of America and the West,” said Alabama state chairman Joe Turnham.
“I prefer Denver. That’s where our future lies, quite frankly,” said California chairman Art Torres. “It’s the Rocky Mountain strategy that is going to bring the Democratic Party to the White House.”
That's awful nice coming from California.
...and good for Democrats.
The Senate Majority Leader is from Nevada.
The Senate Minority Leader is from Kentucky, the minority whip is from Mississippi. There is nothing that could be better.
For decades the schism between the south and the west has been pulling at the seams of the Republican Party. Conservatives from both regions approach their conservatism is drastically different ways.
The South is an authoritarian region that certainly isn't the West.
Lott being reelected as the Republican leader in the Senate is a solid example of where the GOP is running after their very regionally based defeat last week. Has anyone else noticed that the one house seat the GOP came to picking up was in Georgia?
The Republicans are running home, to the south. As they abandon the West, we have a chance to increase our gains already made.
Emmett O'Connell | November 15, 2006 | Comment on This Post (3 so far)
A couple of days ago, Tom Vilsack threw his hat into the ring for the 2008 presidential contest:
"Americans sent a clear message on Tuesday. They want leaders who will take this country in a new direction," Vilsack, Iowa's two-term governor, said in a statement. "They want leaders who share their values, understand their needs, and respect their intelligence. That's what I've done as governor of Iowa, and that's what I intend to do as president."
Well Tom, you also clearly intend to invalidate your home state caucuses. Like Tom Harkin ran in 1992, when an Iowan runs for president, your caucuses matter little to everyone else. Iowans aren't going to punish a favorite son and no other big name Democratic candidate is truly going to ask them to.
Which means the next caucus up is Nevada. Tom Vilsack, by running for president has made Nevada the Iowa of 2008 - great news for Western Democrats. Not just because the issues being discussed in a western state matter to us out here, it means our chances of nominating a westerner in 2008 are much improved. Nevada will be a natural spot for someone like Richardson to campaign (given his sky high re-election rate and majority support among all sub-groups - important in a diverse western state like Nevada).
Can you really see Hillary winning Nevada? Or Tom Vilsack for that matter?
Western Democrats have just indirectly made incredible progress because of the aspirtation of one Iowan. Thanks Tom, much appreciated.
Landon Mascareñaz | November 11, 2006 | Comment on This Post (3 so far)