Here we go again. Earlier this week, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer appeared on a segment of MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki." The ever-frank, never-boring Democrat briefly shared his take on the recently proposed nuclear treaty with Iran (remember, Schweitzer actually used to live in the Middle East). At the end of the less-than-two-minute clip, posted below, Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo chimed in with the question everyone but Schweitzer has been sick of for months: "Will you run for president in 2016?"
"Well, I'll just say that there's around 100 counties in Iowa," Schweitzer replied, "and on my bucket list is to try and make it to all the counties of Iowa someday." Schweitzer punctuated the comment with his toothy trademark grin, and the press leapt on nearly the exact same story it had a year ago. (The difference: Last time Schweitzer mentioned Iowa, a key presidential primary state, he was on CNN. Oh, and he also named New Hampshire, which must be feeling pretty left out right now.)
Schweitzer's numerical gaff aside, the renewed speculation regarding his 2016 aspirations suggests the public is still thirsting for the occasional pint of political folksiness. No wonder. Since Schweitzer announced in July that he would not be running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Max Baucus, the 2014 electoral field in Montana has gone a bit stale. U.S. Rep. Steve Daines declared his Senate candidacy earlier this month, and will face state Rep. Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula, in the Republican primary despite Edmunds' claims earlier this year that if Daines declared for Senate, he'd step down to the U.S. House race. Current Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh will contend with former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger in the Democratic primary. The latest data from Public Policy Polling has Daines trouncing both Dems by about 15 points. Against Walsh and Bohlinger, even Edmunds has a two-point lead.
The race for Montana's lone House seat is even more like a political Mad Lib. Just this week, Helena real estate investor Drew Turiano declared on the right, proclaiming himself a pro-life Christian Tea Party Conservative Republican. He'll face state Sen. Matt Rosendale, state Sen. Corey Stapleton and former state Sen. Ryan Zinke for the GOP nomination. Melinda Gopher, a Missoula local, and John Lewis, a former top aide to Baucus, have declared their candidacies on the left.
Everyone was waiting for Schweitzer to make up his mind about 2014. He declined to run and the floodgates opened. Yet we can't pry our attention away from him. And apparently he can't stop teasing us.
Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" appears every Tuesday online, and can be seen in the Indy's printed pages every Thursday.
Nonprofit's focus is decadelong forecast of weather
At a meeting with farmers and water managers last week in Great Falls, Vikram Mehta, president and executive director of The Center for Research on the Changing Earth System of Maryland, a nonprofit that is studying decadelong cycles of weather in the 10-state Missouri River basin, said that his research on being able to predict 10- to 20-year wet and dry weather cycles is promising and could help improve agricultural and water decisions.
Great Falls Tribune; Nov. 26
USFS proposes rule change for uphill skiers
As more skiers strap on skins and climb their way to the top of runs at ski areas, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed a rule change that would allow ski areas that lease lands from the federal agencies to charge a fee for the uphill skiers.
Aspen Times; Nov. 26
Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Thinking inside the box will be a crime against your nature in the coming weeks. The last place you want to be is in a pigeonhole. I advise you to stay far away from tight squeezes, claustrophobic "sanctuaries," and "convenient" confinements. If you're in a one-size-fits-all situation, you simply won't be able to access your highest intelligence. So then where should you be? I am rooting for you to wander into the wild frontiers where unsanctioned wonders and marvels await you. I'd love for you to find virgin terrain and uncharted territories where the boring old rules don't apply.
Wildlife group warns climate change threatens Montana's game animals
A report issued Friday by the National Wildlife Federation said that a warming climate will have an adverse effect on big-game animals such as moose, deer and elk in Montana and other states where those species are found.
Great Falls Tribune; Nov. 22
Habitat loss blamed for decline in monarch butterflies, wild bees
The return of the monarch butterflies to central Mexico didn't happen on Nov. 1 this year, but instead just a fraction of the millions of butterflies expected straggled in a week late, and the decline of that species, along with a slate of other insects including wild bees, has been linked to the loss of vegetation the insects need to survive.
New York Times; Nov. 22
Curses, Foiled Again
Assistant manager Ariel Sinclair, 23, stole nearly $6,000 from a drug store’s lottery machine after using its fingerprint-recognition feature to unlock it, according to police in Virginia Beach, Va. “If you’re providing your fingerprint to access this machine, I have no idea how, in your mind, you’re thinking you’re going to get away with this,” police official Adam Bernstein commented. (Norfolk’s WTKR-TV)
Closed-circuit cameras showed a man in his late 20s trying to rob a store in Blackpool, England, by threatening the clerk with a machete and a kitchen knife. The clerk responded by brandishing a mop and a bottle of vodka, forcing the crook to flee the store empty handed. (Blackpool’s The Gazette)
U.S. House panel hears bill to reimburse states for operating national parks
Although Montana did not use state funds to open national parks during the federal government shutdown in October, the Big Sky State's lone congressman Steve Daines introduced legislation to reimburse the six states that did and on Thursday, a House panel took testimony on Daines' bill and another that would prevent such closures of national parks in the future.
Great Falls Tribune; Nov. 22
State veterinarian says Montana will vaccinate bison for brucellosis
On Thursday, Montana state veterinarian Marty Zaluski told members of the Interagency Bison Management committee that the state plans to capture bison that wander out of Yellowstone National Park into Montana from late February to early March and vaccinate them to help stop the spread of brucellosis.
Helena Independent Record (Bozeman Daily Chronicle); Nov. 22
U.S. House passes bill to speed up drilling, another on hydraulic fracturing
On Wednesday, the U.S. House voted 228-192 to pass a measure to speed up federal permitting of oil and gas drilling operations that includes a required $5,000 fee for any group or person to protest a lease and would open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, and approved another bill on a 235-to-187 vote that would prohibit the Interior Department from enforcing a proposed regulation on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in states that already have such a regulation in place.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Nov. 21
U.S. Senate panel to hear bill to protect Montana's Rocky Mountain Front
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear testimony on a number of bills at a hearing at 9:30 a.m., including Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus's Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which would add 67,112 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and designate another 208,000 acres as a Conservation Management Area, and the Rural Water Projects Completion Act, introduced by Baucus and Sen. Jon Tester, that would set aside $80 million annually to fund rural water projects.
Great Falls Tribune; Nov. 21
All of the drama was supposed to end with the sale of one of the highest-priced fossils ever offered on the open market. But that sale will have to wait.
The dinosaur skeletons failed to sell at auction in New York City yesterday. From The Associated Press:
A pre-sale estimate had predicted that the skeletons, offered as a single lot, could fetch between $7 million and $9 million — a price out of the reach of most museums. There were hopes that a wealthy buyer would donate the skeletons to a public institution, similar to how The Field Museum came to own Sue, a Tyrannosaurus rex discovered in South Dakota in 1990. The museum acquired Sue at a total cost of $8.36 million, including premium, with backing from McDonald's, Disney and other donors.
But the skeletons did not make the reserve at the Bonhams auction; the highest offer was $5.5 million. Auction officials said they remained hopeful that they'd find a buyer, possibly among institutions that had previously expressed interest.
Utah provides a model for communities seeking federal transportation funds
At a meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., of Transportation of America, an alliance of community, business and elected officials, the ability of Utah to obtain federal funding for transportation projects was touted as one to follow.
Salt Lake Tribune; Nov. 20
Montana county hires attorney to fend off USFS water-rights claims
The Ravalli County Commission voted unanimously to use $1,500 of donated private funds to hire a Wyoming law firm to continue its challenge of the U.S. Forest Service's plan to obtain water rights on headwaters streams in the Bitterroot Forest in Montana.
Ravalli Republic; Nov. 20
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