It may only be October of 2013, but the looming race for the White House in 2016 is already a hot discussion topic. This election cycle, however, may be much more significant for Montana and MSU. Former Governor Brian Schweitzer has attracted attention as a potential dark horse candidate for the presidency. That’s right, an alumnus of Montana State University is considering a run, according to an interview with RealClearPolitics.
Amidst the fallout of the government shutdown, Americans are steadily losing faith in both the Democrat and Republican parties. Gallup polls tell us that Congress’ approval rating sits at an all-time low of 11%, an unsurprising figure. Americans are ready to clean house in next year’s congressional elections, searching for fresh candidates and ideas on how to work together to avoid future catastrophes. The same is true for the executive branch, where the Obama administration has been beleaguered by multiple scandals and poor approval ratings.
Although Schweitzer had made reference to the possibility of running for President since 2012, there is a renewed interest in his candidacy amidst talk of yet another member of the Clinton or Bush families taking the White House. Schweitzer himself summed it up well: “There are 340 million people living in America. Isn’t there somebody other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times?”
Schweitzer himself may just be that candidate. When he served as Governor, Montana saw an eight year budget surplus, increased funding for education and increased utilization of clean energy sources. Montanans saw both tax cuts and economic growth and the momentum carries forward today. Schweitzer accomplished these for Montana in the spirit of bipartisanship, as evidenced by his choice of a Republican Lieutenant Governor, John Bohlinger. A candidate that achieves significant results while reaching across the aisle is appealing to the nation, as the United States is deeply divided on nearly every issue and consistently suffers because of it.
[pullquote align=”right”]“‘Live Free or Die’ — we understand that notion in Montana.”-Brian Schweitzer[/pullquote]
Despite these promising past accomplishments, Schweitzer would face significant challenges if he committed to a presidential candidacy in 2016. As a traditionally pro-gun politician, he could have trouble gaining traction within his own party on a national scale. In addition, the cost of running a national campaign is astronomical, with 2012 campaign spending reaching nearly a billion dollars for each party. Although Schweitzer is a successful businessman, he would have difficulty raising money as a relatively unknown dark horse candidate. This isn’t to say he would have trouble rallying Americans. In a speech he gave at the 2008 Democrat National Convention in Denver, he showed his skills as a powerful orator. optimistically speaking on how America can break her current dependence on foreign energy and worked the crowd into a cheering roar with his grassroots, relatable attitude, all while retaining intelligent discourse.
Should Schweitzer choose to run, he believes Americans across the nation could identify with him, especially early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. He said, “The people of Iowa are a whole lot like the people of Montana. And, of course, New Hampshire’s a lot like Montana. We don’t have a sales tax. ‘Live Free or Die’ — we understand that notion in Montana.” Although the election is still a few years away and Schweitzer has yet to officially announce his bid, the country could use a Montanan and a Bobcat in the White House.