Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
No one conservadem senator has caused Democrats, liberals and progressives in particular, more consternation and heartburn than Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (conservadem-MT). The opportunity to do something about it has now presented itself.
The Washington Post reports today that Baucus to retire rather than seek re-election in 2014. It's time to elect a "Prarie Populist" progressive.
Kos writes at Daily Kos, Baucus out, it's Schweitzer time:
Today's unexpected news of Sen. Max Baucus retirement is both the best and worst news of the day.
It's the worst news, because like Joe Lieberman, it would've been
more fun for his state's voters to forcefully retire him. Word from
Montana was that while former Gov. Brian Schweitzer isn't crazy about
the idea of serving in the Senate, there were a couple of factors
working in favor of those of us wishing to see him swap out Baucus:
Schweitzer is genuinely interested in running for president (or being
vice president), and taking out Baucus would be a great way to
ingratiate himself with activist base voters. Also, Schweitzer and
Baucus have a long-running blood feud over health care. Schweitzer was a
loud and vocal proponent of single payer health care and drug
reimportation from Canada, while Baucus was an asshole on those issues.
But of course, today's news was also the best news of the day
because, quite frankly, that asshole is gone. Ron Wyden now takes over
the Senate Finance Committee, which is huge. It's hard to overstate the
impact of that move. Remember, it was Baucus in Finance who undermined
and sabotaged Obamacare throughout 2009, giving us not just a far weaker
law than we could've had, but costing us big in the 2010 elections.
And, the opportunity for Schweitzer is still there. Sure, he doesn't
get to be the conquering hero by taking out Baucus by force, but the
opportunity to have a fighting-style populist Dem in the Senate, willing
to be partisan and aggressive and surprisingly progressive (single
payer, pro-marriage equality, etc.) will play well. He certainly isn't ruling anything out.
Meanwhile, former Schweitzer staffers are already gearing up for a potential run.
In case you're wondering about numbers, the last and only public poll
of the Montana Senate race, by PPP, had Schweitzer performing better
than Baucus in general election matchups against the GOP, though it
would still be a close race. His 56-37 favorability rating significantly
bested Baucus' 48-45 job approval rating.
Finally, note that Schweitzer is a solidly pro-gun Democrat. But so
is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Being pro-gun doesn't mean being
anti-all-and-every restriction, and he's already made clear that he's in favor
of expanded background checks. If he wants to make a serious run for
the White House, a Senate race would be a good place to establish
himself as serious and responsible on gun ownership.
Schweitzer will be a stellar upgrade in the Senate, if he chooses to run.
Kos is running a petition urging Schweitzer to run, if you are into petitions.