Mont. Democrats Scramble to Replace Schweitzer in Senate Race

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 10:40 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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When former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced over the weekend that he would not be running for the Senate, the Democratic Party was caught unawares.

The Party now has to scramble to find a replacement for a candidate thought to be a heavy favorite to capture the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, reports the Hill.

“It took us by surprise,” said Montana Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Nancy Anderson.
“People were hopeful he was going to run. He’s very well-respected and well-liked in Montana. People were waiting to see what Brian was going to do. Now, names are floating up, and I imagine there are names we haven’t even heard of yet. We will go forward and support our party’s candidates, and we’ll see what happens from that point forward.”

Some of those names include EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, state Auditor Monica Lindeen and State Superintendent Denise Juneau.

Schweitzer’s decision blindsided many State Democrats, who were participating in their yearly party convention.

“It was a surprise,” said Montana Democratic strategist Aaron Murphy. “The effort begins now of really casting a wide net to make sure Democrats aren’t going to just stick to one name but rather open up a whole slate of options for folks. We can win this race, and we will, and it’s a matter of putting a good person forward.”

According to the Daily Beast, Schweitzer’s reasons for bowing out of the race had to do with a general distaste for life in the nation’s capital.

“And I concluded it was really bad to live in [Washington D.C.]; traffic is bad, weather is worse,” Schweitzer said. “Most of the people you talk to are frauds.”

The state’s GOP tells a different story.

Republicans were “making a healthy effort [to gather] opposition research … worked hard distributing it to local media,” said Bowen Greenwood, Executive Director of the Montana Republican Party.

Some Democrats secretly see Schweitzer’s decision not to run as a blessing in disguise.

“Republicans are right about one thing: Schweitzer was a treasure trove for opposition research,” one Democrat said.“The likelihood Schweitzer was going to self-combust was pretty high. The guy is a dynamo, and the thing about dynamite is it tends to blow up.

"There are a number of names of Democrats that are considering running. They’d start the race as the underdog, but they’d start off with a better chance of making it to the finish line.”

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