Somethin' brewin' in the west

July 12, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

Jon Tester. Not exactly a household name, at least in my area. Not yet, anyway.

The guy is running a populist race for the U.S. Senate in Montana against Conrad Burns. Burns was tucked into one of George Bush's crowded pockets by Jack Abramoff. Yes, I know. Bush has had only a passing acquaintance with Abramoff. Also with Ken Lay, Tom DeLay and Prince Bandar.

Wikipedia tells us that populism is about appealing to the concerns of average folks. Its antonym is elitism. Think John Kerry. (Sorry, John, but it is what it is. Very difficult to picture you breaking a sweat in a Sears T-shirt.)

A friend of mine is very high on Montana's Governor Schweitzer and now, on Jon Tester. Has been quietly nudging about these dudes for some time. Now Joe Klein has given Tester ink in Time magazine.

Klein's principal thrust is about the growing number of populist campaigns this year. (Think Kinky Friedman.) The down-home approach. Remember the "aw shucks" persona and winky smirk that got George Bush where he is today? Okay, he's in one helluva mess. Still, you get my drift. It's undeniably true that the tongue-tied Christian cowboy thing seemed to play well for a while.

Jon Tester is a farmer. The real, real deal. Minnesotans with long memories will recall that doesn't always play well here. Cal Ludeman and Alan Quist come to mind. But that was then and that was here. Tester is looking good in Montana. According to the Rasmussen Reports, "Democrat Jon Tester leads Republican Senator Conrad Burns 50% to 43% making Burns the second most vulnerable Senator seeking re-election this year (Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is still the most vulnerable)." Woo hoo! How great is that?

I share all of this with you in my ongoing attempt to post at least one positive piece of news each week. It's an essentially thankless task. But every so often, something comes down the pike that looks like relief is on the way. Keep an eye on this guy.

Full disclosure: Until recently, I rarely thought of Jon Tester at all, and when I did, it was as "that guy from Montana, I think." I am not now nor have I ever been affiliated with Jon Tester nor with Jon Tester's barber. I have not been to Montana since 2004, and then only for a few hours, en route to Idaho. I might have bought a cup of coffee in Dillon.

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Anonymous (not verified) | July 13, 2006 - 12:14am

I have been talking about Gov Schweitzer of Montana now for 2 years. I believe the future of the Democratic party lies in the model of candidates coming from Montana. They are plain spoken, witty, common sense people who happen to stand for progressive politics and against corruption. Much as the Republican conservative ascendancy traces its roots back to the Western populist "sagebrush" revolution of the late 70s and early 80s, I believe that Democrats can regain power by utilizing the Prairie Populism of candidates like Tester and Schweitzer. This honest strategy working in a Red state is a recipe for success and should be studied quickly and in depth by Democrats outside the Northeast USA.