Can we do better?
by Pete Talbot
Pogie, over at Intelligent Discontent, has a post up on Sen. Max Baucus’ re-election bid. To date, it has generated over 150 comments, so it must be an issue that many people are following, closely.
(The only post of Pogie’s that has received a higher volume of comments was on gun violence, but that subject is guaranteed to bring out more nuts than a Tea Party convention.)
Pogie says that despite Max’s flaws, unless there is a viable challenger in the primary who can go on to beat the Republican in the general election, he’s supporting Max.
Now I have great respect Pogie (Don Pogreba) and his site – I often go to Intelligent Discontent first when I open my laptop – but I’m not ready to concede his point. And I planned to comment at his site but since my comment was going to run longer than his post, I thought I’d try something here at good ol’ 4&20.
I appreciate Pogie’s concern, having just read an article in the Washington Post about how Republicans are eating their own — the subject being how far-right candidates win in the primaries only to lose in the general elections. Could this happen to the Democrats in Montana if a more progressive candidate won in our primary?
It’s possible. But maybe, just maybe, voters are fed up with candidates who take a stand only after they’ve taken a poll, and who receive more in special interest campaign contributions than the GDP of most African nations.
I’ll start by parsing the comments, which, for the most part, made for an intelligent discussion:
“If there were a credible, electable alternative – I’d be there, but there isn’t. As much as I feel that Max is not anywhere near the quality of Senator that the previous seat holder was (Mike Mansfield) I will support him until another Mike comes along.” *
“No one to the left of Max can win in Montana: it’s just that simple … ”
Now I wouldn’t call Brian Schweitzer a progressive, more of a populist, but he’s to the left of Baucus on a number of issues. Health care comes to mind. And I’m not advocating Schweitzer as a candidate. I just want to point out that he came out of nowhere and almost took out Conrad Burns in 2000.
Perhaps the right (as in correct) candidate: straight talking and charismatic, can win in the primary and the general.
After some back-and-forth on if there are any potential candidates who really could challenge Max, this list was mentioned:
- Lizard offered Wilmer. I’d second that.
- Denise Juneau would be a great candidate
- Nancy Keenan just left NARAL. She’d be a formidable candidate!
- Ellie Hill from Missoula is a rising star in dem circles. Of course, that would assume that dems from other than Missoula think that any candidate from there is acceptable.
It’s a good-looking list. The author is right that Ellie might be a stretch. I like her but being a lawyer from Missoula is often the kiss of death in statewide politics.
Franke Wilmer would get my support and maybe if the progressives hadn’t had as many choices in the last congressional primary, she would have gone further.
Denise would be great, although she had a tough election against a flake last fall, I like to think she’s destined for higher office.
Nancy would be great, too, but who knows if she’s even interested. She had a rugged campaign against Rehberg in 2000 in which he slimed her repeatedly, but I don’t think Rehberg’s strategy would work as well this time around.
So, obviously, it won’t be easy for anyone, but this list is a good start.
Here are but three issues that have alienated me from Max and, I’m guessing, other Democratic voters, too.
1) His consistent support for the war in Iraq.
2) His handling of health care reform.
3) His shit-eating grin as he stood over George W. Bush’s shoulder as Bush signed the 2001 tax cut bill.
There are other issues, too. But can anyone except Max beat a Republican in the general election? From the post itself:
“I for one, cannot work to help create Senator Steve Daines or Senator Dennis Rehberg. Attacking Baucus without a candidate who can defeat Republicans like these is beyond foolish; it’s just grandstanding to get attention.”
First of all, Rehberg is a loser. And he says he won’t run for office again (although one should never take Rehberg at his word). The way Denny has acted since his loss, though, just doesn’t make him a contender, IMHO.
And Daines is just Rehberg Lite.
The thing to consider here is that the Republican Party is in disarray. Who knows whom its nominee might be. Champ Edmunds? Krayton Kerns? Derek Skees? Wouldn’t that be sweet?
If Max makes it through the primary I’ll, of course, vote for him over a Republican in the general (unless there’s a progressive Republican running, but that’s an oxymoron). And I’ll vote for Max if he’s the only name on the primary ballot.
I’m just hoping someone better than Max comes along.
*Baucus actually replaced Lee Metcalf, a Senator of equal status to Mike Mansfield. Metcalf was from Stevensville. He died in office at the end of his third term at age 66.