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Candidates for governor already begin to surface

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has more than two years to go on his second four-year term, but that won’t stop potential candidates from testing the waters this far out from the 2012 elections.

So far, we have one actual filed statement of candidacy from a Democrat and a bunch of rumors of potential candidates. The actual filing was from Ronald J. Lassle of Helena, who submitted his statement to the commissioner of political practices’ office on Oct. 19, listing himself as campaign treasurer.

Other names floating around the capital city include Attorney General Steve Bullock of Helena, business executive Steve Daines of Bozeman, Neil Livingstone, a Montana native who heads a Washington, D.C., security consultant firm, and State Sen. David Wanzenried, D-Missoula.

Mr. Bullock, 43, is a former private-practice lawyer in the middle of his first four-year term as AG. Although his current position has traditionally been a stepping-stone to the governor’s office in Montana, it might not be quite this soon. Unless it looked like a slam-dunk to the Democratic nomination for governor, he is likely to stay where he is for a second term.

Mr. Daines, 46, was Republican nominee Roy Brown’s running mate in the 2008 gubernatorial race. He is Asia/Pacific vice president and general manager for RightNow Technologies, a Bozeman customer-service software firm. While continuing to be politically active, it’s not clear whether Mr. Daines would want to make his own attempt at the state’s top office in 2012.

Dr. Livingstone is chairman and CEO of ExecutiveAction, LLC, and is also involved in operating an Oregon-based precision helicopter company. He is considered an authority on terrorism and has written books on the subject and appeared on talk shows to discuss it.

A recent article in Harpers magazine suggested Dr. Livingstone is considering running for governor of Montana after being approached about it by unnamed people. Since the company he founded, GlobalOptions Inc., went public in 2005, he presumably has sufficient resources to invest in a political campaign and/or can acquire them.

Sen. Wanzenried is a longtime Democratic elected official who spent five terms in the House of Representatives before joining the Montana Senate in 2007. He reportedly considered challenging U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., for the state’s lone House seat in 2008, but decided against it.

Speaking of ...

… The governor, our current one was in West Virginia over the weekend speaking to a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Charleston. According to press reports, he dissed the guys on the other side of the aisle in a rousing keynote speech to the party faithful.

“If there was a vote on Christmas, they’d vote ‘no’ on that,” Gov. Schweitzer reportedly said of the GOP.

West Virginia Democratic officeholders find themselves in a dilemma because they supported President Obama’s election and now his Environmental Protection Agency appointees are opposing surface coal-mining permits for the state. “It will be Montana and West Virginia that will lead the country to coal that is cleaner and greener,” Gov. Schweitzer said.

Also appearing at the Charleston soiree were West Virginia Democrats Gov. Joe Manchin, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and U.S. Reps. Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan.

Libby screenings

Federally funded medical care for Libby residents with asbestos-related illnesses is scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 9, with screenings starting the following Monday. The new services are being made available because the feds declared a Public Health Emergency in Libby last summer, sending a $6 million Health and Human Services Department grant on its way to Lincoln County.

A new Web site at www.libbyasbestos.org is now up as a clearinghouse for information on available benefits and medical services for those suffering from asbestos-related health problems in that area. The grant money is also supposed to help pay for cleaning up homes and other buildings in Libby that have been affected by asbestos contamination.

Credit should go to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., for closely following this issue and helping to make the designation and the funding come to pass. (May he manage to get that active on single-payer health care reform.)

Quote of the week

“My deal with my chief of staff is you run Montana government; I’ll run the rest of the state. So my responsibility isn’t even in this building. My responsibility is communication with the people who are running businesses and key constituents outside the Capitol.”

– Gov. Brian Schweitzer, in an Oct. 19 interview with McKinsey Quarterly.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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