Every now and then, a seasoned player gets their shot at the big leagues. Last week, the Clinton presidential campaign announced its hiring of Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s brother, Walter, as a senior in-state advisor, giving him a boost from a state-level politico to a national campaign player.
“There’s no doubt, he is a political operative,” says Bigfork Republican and State Senate candidate Bob Keenan.
In 2005, when Keenan was House minority leader in the Legislature, he joined assorted lawmakers, lobbyists, and state officials who took exception to the fact that Walter Schweitzer, although he never held an official position, appeared to have behind-the-scenes influence on policy and decision-making.
Some say Walter’s new job, meanwhile, links him to someone Clinton’s most interested in: Democratic super delegate Gov. Schweitzer. “Clinton is desperate for super delegates, and this is a good way to influence Brian Schweitzer,” said one Helena observer.
“I don’t think there’s any kind of power play going on,” countered Bob Raney, a former Democratic state legislator and current Public Service Commission member. “I think Walter just loves to be involved in politics, and this is a great opportunity for that.” Added to it, he says, are Walter’s Montana ties and his hard-fought experience on his brother’s two intensely competitive statewide campaigns.
“He knows an awful lot about Montana politics,” Raney observed. “They need somebody in Montana who knows what the hell is going on.”