Gizzi on Politics: Schweitzer’s Stature; Dingell Out; McCain’s Help

Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 03:38 PM

By John Gizzi

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Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is clearly the leading Democrat in the state for a possible Senate bid following the sudden announcement by Sen. Max Baucus on Tuesday that he would not seek another term.

Even before the 71-year-old senator formally called it quits Tuesday morning, the most recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Baucus losing to Schweitzer among Montana Democrats by a margin of 54 percent to 35 percent.

Republicans so far have two strong contenders — former state Sen. Corey Stapleton and state Rep. Champ Edmunds.

Schweitzer, — who is now expected to make his candidacy official — is best known nationally as a vociferous advocate of single-payer health insurance.

Mrs. Dingell out of Michigan Race

Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell announced last week she would not run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, raising odds that Michigan Democrats will join hands behind a single candidate.

In underscoring the importance of uniting behind one candidate, the wife of veteran Democratic Rep. John Dingell told reporters she was urging three-term Democratic Rep. Gary Peters to make the race. Peters is expected soon to officially declare for the Senate race.

Among Republicans, a favorable column by nationally syndicated pundit George Will last weekend heightened interest in the possible Senate candidacy of Republican Rep. Justin Amash, a protege of Ron Paul.

Amash spokesman Will Adams told me that the Grand Rapids-area congressman “is looking at it but has not made a decision yet.” Other prospective GOP hopefuls are Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land and Rep. Mike Rogers.

McCain to Sanford’s Rescue

Republican Sen. John McCain has come to the aid of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford after the National Republican Congressional Committee confirmed it would not send any further funds for his bid to win a House seat in an upcoming special election.

McCain’s political action committee last week sent the legal maximum donation of $2,500 donation to Sanford’s campaign.

In 2000, then-Rep. Sanford was among the high-profile supporters of McCain in the heated South Carolina primary that the Arizona senator narrowly lost to George W. Bush.

Most surveys give a slight lead in the May 7 race to Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. One GOP volunteer who has been working on a phone bank for Sanford told me: “From the calls I’m making, this is going to be a tough one.”

Roemer Son Eyed for House Bid

With the announcement of Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana that he will seek the Republican nomination to oppose Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu next year, a familiar name has begun to surface as a possible GOP candidate for Cassidy’s Baton Rouge-based seat.

Chas Roemer, son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, is being eyed to run in the 6th Congressional District.

The 43-year-old Roemer, who has also been mentioned as a Senate candidate, is an elected member of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a favorite of “back-to-basics” proponents in public education.

The elder Roemer represented Louisiana in Congress as a Democrat from 1981-88, but was a Republican while governor from 1988-92. He made surprise bids for the Republican and Reform Party presidential nominations last year before supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson for president.

John Gizzi is a special columnist for

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