Former Senator Hillary Clinton does not, and will not, want to include former Governor Brian Schweitzer as her Vice Presidential nominee if she wins the Democratic nomination. However, baring a more viable challenger, it is possible Schweitzer may become the inevitable choice; even after a bruising primary.
In recent polling former Senator Hillary Clinton averages more than 63% percent of the vote and no other candidate receives more than 11%.
Yet, there are many Democrats with Clinton fatigue. In addition, Democrats like to make up their own minds – on everything. If Clinton is dominating potential challengers in the early polls and straw ballots, primary voters will demand an alternative. Although, there are many other potential challengers for the Democratic nomination, most are Hillary clones or idealists scheduled to drop out after finishing below second place in New Hampshire.
Currently, undecided Democratic voters outnumber those who claim they will vote for former Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer, in the 2016 Democratic primaries. Yet he is likely to do well in largely rural, Midwestern and early primary state, Iowa. He visited the state last December and announced plans to visit all 99 counties.
Senator Clinton was born in contiguous Illinois and spent more than fifteen years in Arkansas. But as the former U.S. Senator of New York and Secretary of State she is a big city politician now.
In 1988, then Senator Al Gore was able to contrast his rural homespun image with the Northeastern liberal, Michael Dukakis, to sweep the cotton-South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina), Virginia, Michigan and Delaware. Former California Governor, Jerry Brown was able to ride a pro-union protectionist message to win Colorado, Nevada and three other states in 1992.
Schweitzer has the opportunity to combine the strong pro-union agenda of Brown with the just-folks image of Gore. Using this formula he may do well in the heavily unionized states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Washington and swing states Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida.
In 2008 Senator Clinton picked up much of anti-Obama vote. In 2016 many former anti-Obama voters may become anti-Clinton voters whom Schweitzer could win over. For instance, Clinton was able to carry Florida in the 2008 primaries because many white Democratic voters north of I-4 were skeptical of Obama. In 2016 rural Democrats in Madison and Escambia County may feel more affinity for a farmer/rancher educated at state colleges, like Schweitzer, than an Ivy League attorney from the big city.
It can be argued that anti-Obama sentiment helped Senator Clinton win Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. If matched against Clinton in 2016, a rural Democrat like Schweitzer could do well in these areas.
By the end of a tough primary season Hillary will likely be seen as a big city machine politician, favoring Wall Street, cutting deals with insiders, permanently triangulating and promoting the interests of white collar women, minorities and homosexuals. As such she will have a tough time in a general election winning swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa and Virginia.
These are the kind of states where the blue collar image of Schweitzer may be able to balance the ticket and provide critical support. In addition, Schweitzer’s isolationist leanings may mollify the concerns of swing voters. Isolationism, or at least “war weariness,” is a powerful and growing force across the political spectrum. Ten plus years of wars, wasteful spending and a veterans system that is still unable to provide for those who served, has left many Americans yearning for a smaller role in the world.
If Governor Schweitzer takes full advantage of his pro-union message and blue collar image, he may become the indispensable running mate for Senator Clinton.