Weigel suspects former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer:
He’s been visiting Iowa and promising to visit all 99 counties. (It’s on his “bucket list.”) The Venn diagram of people who visit all 99 Iowa counties and people who run for president is basically a solid circle. Schweitzer’s only just been added to presidential polls, where he comes in between zero and 2 percent. He talks about these numbers the way a presidential candidate always does. “The Republicans tend to choose the candidate who came in second place in the last election, and Democrats tend to move on,” he says. “Ask President Ed Muskie how it worked out to be the front-runner. Ask President Howard Dean how it worked out.”
Sam Kleiner looks at where Schweitzer deviates from your average Democrat:
Becoming famous as a “blue man in a red state,” Schweitzer compromised on core liberal commitments to gun control and allied himself with the NRA. In his 2008 run, Schweitzer was endorsed by the NRA with an “A” rating and a personal visit by Wayne LaPierre for a campaign rally. Schweitzer signed an array of NRA-backed bills into law, including a 2009 “stand your ground” bill that the NRA called a “victory.” …
While it’s tempting to write off Schweitzer’s relationship with the NRA as a kind of compromise that Western Democrats must make in order to stay in office, it’s worth recalling that [Montana] Senator Jon Tester was a supporter of the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill. Schweitzer is either a genuine conservative on gun control or, more troublingly, a candidate willing to “tack hard right” in order to get elected, as he would put it.
On the environment, Schweitzer has similarly been far to the right of the Democratic Party, and he isn’t sorry about it. He blamed “jackasses” in Washington for the delays on the building of the Keystone Pipeline. While Western Democrats have a tradition of producing some of the party’s greatest conservationists, including Secretaries of the Interior Stewart Udall and Bruce Babbitt, Schweitzer has gone the other direction. He has been one of the strongest advocates for expanding coal production, with extensive plans to ship coal to China. That plan has been met with fierce resistance from groups such as the Sierra Club. Western Democrats have a rich tradition of being the vanguards of the party’s environmentalist wing, but Schweitzer does not fit there.
(Photo: Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer speaks on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. By Alex Wong/Getty Images)