What Are They Thinking?

Two of Montana’s highest profile politicos are busily playing games as they contemplate their next moves.

In what has become a not-so-secret deliberation (the sleazey insert in the Christmas card being a dead giveaway – DUH!) of possible future plans, Denny Rehberg is pulling all sorts of strings and dirty stunts behind the scenes to keep his options open for either a run for the Senate (Denny’s favorite – less likely to be successful) or governor (less desirable in Denny’s mind, but better odds of winning) in 2012. Knowing full-well that a successful run for either of those offices requires a longer-than-ever funding marathon, Denny is actively thwarting the campaigns of the leading candidates for both offices while he dithers around deciding which direction suits his fancy. Informal polls around the state show very little support for Denny for either office, and most insiders are clearly less than enthused with the prospect of Denny as a candidate for any office other than the one he currently holds. Yet it seems our lone Republican Congress Critter may be suffering from some kind of self-delusion that imagines a groundswell of support that shows no sign of existing in reality.


Hopefully, somebody will provide the much-warranted slap upside the head that Denny needs to come to his senses. Call it the contempt of the familiar or just a general lack of enthusiasm, whatever – but Denny’s support is lukewarm at best. He no longer generates the kind of passion that it will take to win a hard-fought campaign – primary or general.

But that’s only one side of the picture. Look at what’s going on across the aisle, where the Democrats are staring at their own 800-pound gorilla — in the guise of Brian Schweitzer. Regarded as one of the most astute political strategists around (not to mention a legend in his own mind), the Gov is also well-known for his insatiable, driving ambition. No way is he going to be content sitting on the dock at Georgetown Lake fishing. A recent telephone poll indicates that Big Bri is also eying Jon Tester’s senate seat. This is not sitting well with the Democrat Party insiders and a contested primary would be most unwelcome by the party faithful. If the poll questions are any indication of Brian’s thinking, he knows a contested primary would not end in his favor. So he’s apparently contemplating a run as an independent candidate, thus bypassing a bloody primary battle. Basing his possible campaign on his “widespread popularity” and his well-known “independent” political streak, Schweitzer apparently thinks that by running as a “non-party” candidate, he can appeal to disillusioned TEA Partiers, and the vast bastion of the politically unaware.


Certainly his recent attacks on the Legislature, his continued dismissive treatment of the environmentalists, and his sudden conversion to a pro-growth, pro-business agenda tend to underscore a populist campaign in the making. The party leaders will be hard-pressed to thwart the political force that Brian envisions himself to be.

It’s anybody’s guess as to how things will play out. If both Brian and Denny decide to take a whack at Jon Tester’s senate seat, poor Jon’s going to feel like the proverbial pinata for the next two years. In a three-way race – with three equally well-known candidates, there’s never a sure bet.

One thing’s for sure, though: For political junkies, it’s shaping up to be a fascinating exercise in strategery, tactics, moves, countermoves, and self-serving press-releases up the ying-yang.

Fasten your seat belts – the spin starts now!

4 thoughts on “What Are They Thinking?

  1. Most interesting. 2012… Does Obama have a chance of winning? I guess that depends on who the R’s choose. I haven’t seen any serious contenders yet that have a shot at winning. I don’t believe either Romney or Palin are electable. Daniels says he won’t run last I heard.

    So the big decision for BS is does he hang his hat on Obama getting re-elected and go for a Cabinet post? Or does he distance himself and go for the Senate. Perhaps he sits out 2 years and goes for Max’s seat. Perhaps Max steps down and he appoints himself.

    I suppose the ideal for that side of the aisle would be for Bohlinger to resign, appoint Wanzeried, have Max step down, BS goes to the Senate and Wanzenreid takes over. Who needs voters?

    As for an Indy run, that might be doable. He is setting up the next gov. with his insane budget this time. Gets him a “get out of jail free” card as he leaves office with what appears on the surface to be sound fiscal policy. The D’s that don’t like Tester and the swing Indy’s could pull together to allow him to beat Tester.

    If anyone thinks the R’s in Helena or DC are going to turn this economy around in the next 18 months, they had best think again. The D’s will use that to their advantage, saying that the R’s had their chance and couldn’t do it – let us try now. And the ever fickle voter just may fall for it.

  2. Wow RP – you’ve hit on a bunch of good points. The one thing I would challenge you on is BS getting an appointment from Obama. He was set to have Energy in 2009 but it didn’t happen. Lots of rumors, but bottom line – the gov was too radioactive and he didn’t deliver the state as promised.

    Early bets had BS waiting for 2014 and taking Max’s seat, but word on the street is that he ticked Max off, so evidently that deal bit the dust.

    As for the economy – you’re probably right on. Although, there is an argument to be made that with the R’s in control of only the House, they could only do so much.

  3. Lots of rumors, but bottom line – the gov was too radioactive and he didn’t deliver the state as promised.

    That’s a good thing. The less I hear of him, the better.

    with the R’s in control of only the House, they could only do so much.

    All the Legislature can do is to lay a solid foundation to pave the way once the recovery starts going in Montana. I find it amusing that the BS budget doesn’t really cut anything and tries to provide the same levels of service the State currently provides. I believe the R’s have a different vision.

  4. Happy New Year Basket Case Manager, I look forward to reading and commenting on your site again in 2011. Your insight and intellect are always most enjoyable to take it.

    It has been my observation watching Congressman Rehberg during his political career that while I rarely if ever disagree with his political philosophy or voting record, it has always been very apparent that he lives by the rule not uncommon to most ego centered politicians, “It’s all about ME”. Denny is one of the most self serving, self centered political animals I have ever watched. For what it’s worth of this observer there is no longer a place for that kind of selfish thinking in politics if we are truly going to turn this country around and return it to governing for the people and by the people. Again, I can’t argue with Rehberg’s record, it’s his approach to climbing the political ladder that nauseates me and I just don’t see those selfish, self centered attitudes in Steve Daines. I have watched young Daines since he was a teenager, taking an interest in politics and I have always observed a more humble, serving spirit in his demeanor and I wish him every success in his effort to run for the US Senate. I hope Rehberg keeps in mind that he has enough baggage (i.e. the boat ride on Flathead Lake ) that will surely be brought up during the upcoming campaign by his democrat opponent to make the race a very ugly nasty battle which he is likely to lose given what’s out there about his somewhat torid past. Steve Daines comes to the table with a fresh outlook and no record of blatent stupidity to overcome. My vote and my support definately go to Daines!

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