Sen. Jon Tester made a bold wager on MSNBC last week: He bet the family farm—all 1,700 dry, dusty acres of it—that former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. And while Tester admitted that his "crystal ball is still a little cloudy," there aren't many in the state right now who'd take him up on the bet. Everyone's speculating that Schweitzer will vie for Max Baucus' open seat, from anonymous Democratic insiders to a growing Draft Schweitzer movement headed by political operatives in Washington, D.C. The question seems more when he'll declare than if.
Meanwhile, those with Senate aspirations of their own are left waiting for the final official nod from the man who polls show could win in a landslide. The 2014 lineup on both sides of the aisle is starting to resemble the line outside a gas station bathroom.
It's hard not to view Schweitzer's prolonged deliberation as a bit coy, a trademark Schweitzerian act of political theatrics. News broke earlier this month that he'd traveled to the Beltway to meet with interest groups that typically back Democratic candidates. In May, Schweitzer stood before a group of state union leaders in Billings and told them that, should he indeed decide to run, he'd need their help. He joked with The Hill recently that he should change his ringtone to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," a nod to how often he's getting calls about 2014.
The whole scene feels vaguely reminiscent of last year's widespread suggestion that Schweitzer would launch a White House run for 2016, except this time the pieces actually appear to be falling into place. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has hosted Draft Schweitzer rallies all across the state in the past few weeks, gathering thousands of grassroots supporters. The group has raised roughly $30,000 for Schweitzer's Senate campaign and intends to keep going until it hits $50,000. Schweitzer himself has admitted he has "a timetable" for making his final decision, though he told The Hill that, as a soil scientist, he tends to "think of time geologically."
Montanans understand Schweitzer's hesitation. This is a tough state to leave behind for a dysfunctional Congress, especially when you've been fishing at a cabin on Georgetown Lake for six months. But to employ what sounds a lot like a Schweitzerism: It's about time for him to fish or cut bait.