Summer. It’s hot. People are out doing things. Few are paying attention.
Ain't much to talk about because of it.
So let’s do some speculating.
Here in Montana we have a lot of politicians, and many of them might have long futures.
I thought it’d be fun to speculate on those futures today. Hey, maybe we’ll even get a few comments to liven up the debate.
I got thinking about this today when I saw this tweet from Matthew Koehler:
I replied, saying I’d bet $5 that Zinke finishes out Trump’s first term.
I fully expect Trump to finish out that term, and I bet he’ll run again in 2020. He’ll be 74-years-old at that point.
The Washington Post had an article up last week highlighting the 15 top Democratic presidential contenders in 2020. Bullock did not make the list.
Those that did make the list aren’t that interesting. I’m not sure how anyone will get excited about them.
Unless the economy collapses – which I think it will in the next year or two – then Trump will easily win a second term.
There’s just no one out there with his charisma, his ability to steal the spotlight.
But does that mean Zinke will stay in the cabinet until 2024?
Currently the odds-on-favorites to run for governor in 2020 are Tim Fox and Greg Gianforte.
Should Gianforte lose to Kathleen Williams this year, he’ll be out. His political career in Montana will be done. I personally feel that many Republicans will be happy with that. He has too much money, meaning any race he enters he’ll likely win, and no one else will be able to compete.
Gianforte will be 59-years-old in 2020, while Tim Fox will be 63. Zinke will also be 59 that year.
I told you four years ago how Zinke sought out the advice of Marc Racicot when he first thought of entering Montana politics. That should have been a clear tip-off that this guy was serious, that he would go places.
Will he step down from the cabinet to run for governor in 2020, however?
I wouldn’t put money on that. Zinke would do much better for himself if he stays in the District of Criminals until 2024.
At that point the state’s First Senate Seat will be up again. If Tester wins again this year, it’s a logical choice for Zinke to try and unseat him in 2024. I don’t see the GOP governor – either Fox or Gianforte – giving up a second-term-gubernatorial-run to try and take out Tester.
One of the wildcards is that by 2022, we would have our Second Congressional Seat back, which we lost in 1992. This will allow a lot more people to come to the fore politically, and many could make the jump up to the Senate, or down to a statewide position.
We’ve spent a lot of time just now speculating on the 2020 governor’s race, mainly because it’s so wide open. Dems have no bench to speak of while the GOP has had most of its big names win statewides in 2016, most of whom will choose to run for reelection in 2020 instead of making the jump. By 2024, however, they'll all need a place to go, and Tester's senate seat is the only place...unless a Dem somehow wins the governor's seat in 2020, making it wide open for Republicans in 2024.
Dems are in a particularly bad position, with early indications pointing to Mike Cooney running for governor to replace Bullock. No one will get excited about Cooney, especially not young people and especially not the money.
Heenan and Kier could come back, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kathleen Williams run for governor in 2020 after she loses by the standard 10-15% this year.
The name Amanda Curtis isn’t even bandied about in Montana politics anymore, so I feel she’s run her course.
One I am worried about is Zeno Baucus, who’ll likely go for the AG position in 2020 when Fox is done. I’m not sure Kim Dudik will be able to beat him in a primary, one that sees Wall Street Max throw the few million he has left over from his 2014 campaign war chest down to his son.
I could see Heenan running for AG in 2020, as he has the legal background…though I think governor is a much more likely choice for him. Personally, I just don’t see him running for the U.S. House again in 2020.
I continue to be one of the few that says Schweitzer might run again in 2020. He’ll have his 8-year term-limit cycle up by then, meaning he could potentially serve another two terms.
But can many Montanans imagine Schweitzer serving until 2025, or even 2029? He’ll be 65-years-old in 2020, but I feel that dog still has a lot of bark and bite in him.
I guess if you’re a Montana Democrat, you feel pretty frustrated by the lack of options your Party has when it comes to candidates.
The legislature has always been the ladder in Montana politics, but Dems have not been doing well in that body for over 20 years now. This often means that unknown candidates run for statewide offices, and their lack of experience, fundraising capability, and name recognition means they typically lose by 10-15%.
There is no indication that this will change in the coming years. Democrats have already written off the 2019 legislature as lost to them, and I fully expect 2021 will be the same.
When it comes to up-and-coming names from both parties, it’s hard to figure who might make a name for themselves at the statewide level.
Adam Rosendale’s fortunes are tied to his dad’s, and should Matt win against Tester this year, I fully expect Adam will run for and perhaps win a statewide office.
Adam Hertz is another I’d keep my eye on. With his dad, Greg, up in the Flathead, this is a guy that can find lots of Western Montana support.
I don’t see Austin Knudsen having much of a political future in Montana aside from jumping up and down between the Montana House and Senate. Unless you’re from Billings or Lewistown, I don’t feel you’re going to go anywhere if you’re from Eastern Montana.
I don’t think a Missoula Democrat will win ever win a statewide office. I shouldn’t save ever, but for the next decade that’s probably out.
It really is a roll of the dice.
My is it fun to watch them tumble.