Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Schweitzer "teases" 2016 bid, surprises no one

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM

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.

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