Schweitzer 

Drafting a "game changer"

Adam Green has been following Brian Schweitzer from afar for years. Even before he co-founded the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Change Campaign Committee with former union organizer Stephanie Taylor in 2009, he saw Schweitzer as "an authentic guy who says what's on his mind and generally stands up for the little guy." Now Green and Taylor are trying to draw Schweitzer out of his post-gubernatorial life on Georgetown Lake and convince him to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. They're already primed to hand him $24,000 in contributions the moment he declares.

"We look for game changers," Green told the Indy during one of several stops in western Montana early this week. "People who will both represent their state well and have a systemic impact on the culture of politics in Washington. Brian Schweitzer's authenticity and economic populism is something that the Democratic Party sorely needs right now, and could have huge ripple effects across the nation if he has a bully pulpit in Washington, D.C."

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  • Photo by Chad Harder

PCCC has collected 16,000 signatures from supporters of its "Draft Brian Schweitzer" campaign, and Green and Taylor have already talked directly to Schweitzer about their initiative. "They're taking note," Green says of those around the former governor, adding that mounting grassroots support—and the money raised so far—could sweeten the pot as Schweitzer makes up his mind.

PCCC isn't alone in actively courting a candidate to vie for retiring Sen. Max Baucus' open seat. An anonymous website went live earlier this month encouraging conservatives to draft former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot for 2014. A February Public Policy Polling poll showed Racicot beating Schweitzer by a margin of 46 to 45.

The difference is PCCC has been successful before in recruiting winners. The organization convinced Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run in Massachusetts last year, and eventually raised more than $1 million for her campaign. Green calls Warren a "game changer" too. But Schweitzer's folksy shtick—like his wielding of a veto branding iron in 2011—has Green convinced he's an easier sell in his home state.

PCCC plans to host a string of house parties promoting a Schweitzer bid throughout the state in the coming weeks. The man himself is still undecided. "I think he's torn," Green says, "mostly because he loves being in Montana and D.C. is so depressing and dysfunctional."

When pressed, Green offered his own prediction: "My guess is he'll run."

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