Thoughts on the West

Politico and the Denver Post hosted their final convention conversation in Denver today, with Governors Brian Schweitzer (Montana) and Janet Napolitano (Arizona), and Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado. The discussion centered around how Democrats can win the American west – states like New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Nevada, which have all shifted toward the left in recent years.

According to the panel, the reason why Democrats have done so well in those states recently comes down to the new kind of Democratic politician emerging from the west. Politicians like Brian Schweitzer, who got the delegates on their feet and going wild at the convention Tuesday night, but who also carries a laid-back and joking attitude into everything he goes into – for instance, he was wearing jeans while everyone else was in slacks. Or politicians like Ken Salazar, who speak candidly with the American people and admit it when they are wrong, which Salazar did when talking about his confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. Although the panel may have been a little too optimistic in their analysis of Obama’s chances out west (some suggested he had a chance in Arizon, home state of John McCain), I think Obama has a chance to do more in the west that any Democrat has done for decades.

Also: Brian Schweitzer will be the Democratic nominee for President. I’m not going to speculate on when, but he will. If you think Schweitzer can work a 20,000-seat hall of delegates, you should see him speak in a tent with a few dozen people – he’s making eye contact with the crowd, and he’s working the room afterwards. That’s the kind of strategy that wins in Iowa, and I think that one day we’ll see Brian Schweitzer accepting the Democratic nomination at a DNC in the future…

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