Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


From Helena to D.C.? Schweitzer Would Make History in Montana

Bookmark and Share

No ex- or sitting Montana governor has ever gone on to win a U.S. Senate (or U.S. House) race

brianschweitzer10.jpgThe decision to go from 1 of 50 to 1 of 100 may seem like a demotion to some.

And yet, several U.S. Senators in the 113th Congress took that very route, such as Delaware's Tom Carper, Maine's Angus King, Nebraska's Mike Johanns, New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen, North Dakota's John Hoeven, Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, Virginia's Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin.

All served as governor before winning their U.S. Senate seats.

But not all governors have been successful in winning Senate seats in recent years.

For example, Republican Linda Lingle of Hawaii (2012), Republican Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin (2012), Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist of Florida (2010), and Republican Jim Gilmore of Virginia (2008) all failed in their Senate bids over the last few cycles.

But in Montana, Democrats are pinning their hopes on former two-term Governor Brian Schweitzer to take the plunge in what the party views as their best chance to hold Max Baucus' seat that has been in the Democratic column since 1913.

Schweitzer, of course, ran for the Senate once as the Democratic nominee in 2000 - losing to then two-term GOP incumbent Conrad Burns by less than 13,700 votes.

A new survey by Harper Polling was released this week showing Schweitzer, who says he won't decde if he'll enter the race until at least May 2nd, with a modest advantage over top GOP prospects like U.S. Representative Steve Daines and former Governor Marc Racicot.

But here's the thing.

Not a single ex- or sitting Montana Governor has ever been elected to D.C. - to the House or the Senate.

A few Montanans have taken the reverse path - going from D.C. to Helena.

For example, Republican Joseph Dixon twice won election to the state's at-large U.S. House seat in 1902 and 1904 and was then elected to the Senate in 1906.

As an incumbent in 1912, Dixon lost the state's first popular vote Senate election to Democrat Thomas Walsh with 32.1 percent of the vote while running as a Progressive.

Dixon was elected governor of Montana eight years later in 1920, lost his reelection bid in 1924, and then failed in his challenge of Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Burton Wheeler in 1928.

Democrat Roy Ayers also was victorious in two elections to the U.S. House before becoming governor - representing the state's 2nd congressional district after winning the Elections of 1932 and 1934.

Ayers then narrowly defeated Frank Hazelbaker in the gubernatorial election of 1936. Governor Ayers lost his reelection bid to Sam Ford four years later.

The one and only Montana Governor who later became a U.S. Senator was John Erickson, although he was never elected to the position.

In fact, he had to appoint himself to get the job.

Erickson was elected governor of the Treasure State three times - in 1924, 1928, and 1932.

When four-term Democratic U.S. Senator Thomas Walsh died in March 1933, Erickson quickly appointed himself to the seat and resigned his governor's post.

Erickson would serve in the position for nearly a year and a half until November 1934, but lost a competitive six-candidate race for the Democratic nomination - coming in a close third behind James Murray with just over one-fifth of the vote.

And with that, Erickson's Senate career came to a close.

The only other Montana governor to run for Senate was Republican Tim Babcock in 1966.

Lieutenant Governor Babcock became governor when the state's 15th Governor, Donald Nutter, was killed in an airplane crash in January 1962.

Two years later Babcock was elected to a full term with a 2.6-point victory over Democrat Roland Renne in 1964.

However, halfway into his four-year term, Babcock decided to challenge one-term incumbent Lee Metcalf in the 1966 U.S. Senate race.

Metcalf defeated Governor Babcock by 6.3 points, and Babcock was rewarded by losing his gubernatorial reelection bid in 1968 by 12.2 points to Democrat Forrest Anderson.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: The Longest-Held Republican US Senate Seats
Next post: Colbert Busch: Making History in South Carolina?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting