Who Will Represent Montana in ‘The Place Where Things Die’?

by Jim Geraghty

The first Morning Jolt of the week looks at some obscure court-case verdict down in Florida, the Democrats’ cries to investigate the investigator in the IRS scandal, some largely unnoticed big developments in Syria, and then this big news for 2014:

The Stakes Just Got a Little Higher in Every Competitive 2014 Senate Race

The weekend also brought a lucky break for Republican hopes of capturing a majority in the Senate in 2014:

Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer shocked the Montana and national political establishments Saturday with his announcement that he wouldn’t run for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2014 as many had expected.

“I never got in this race,” Schweitzer told the Gazette State Bureau in a telephone interview Saturday morning.

He acknowledged that he considered running for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, but in the end he decided a legislative body isn’t the place for him.

“I’m a doer,” Schweitzer said.

He said he likes to plow half a field in the morning and see the progress by noon before he finishes the job in the afternoon.

“I’m used to being in charge of things, getting things done,” Schweitzer said. “Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is a place where things die.”

Keep that comment in mind for when Schweitzer inevitably endorses the Democratic tomato can that wins the primary. “I tell you, my fellow Montanans, State Senator John Smith is exactly the right man to serve in the place where things die!” Maybe they should nominate a mortician.

Rick Moran:

Schweitzer would have been a clear favorite going into the race, given his proven vote-getting and fundraising skills. His assumed candidacy explained the reluctance of GOP Congressman Steve Daines to challenge for the seat — a better possibility now that Schweitzer has declined to run.

A Daines bid could create a domino effect:

Two other Republicans, former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, of Billings, and current state Rep. Champ Edmunds, of Missoula, already are in the U.S. Senate race. Edmunds has said he would drop to the House race if Daines goes for the Senate.

Here’s how Politico sees the state of play at this point:

Republicans are favored to win two seats left vacant by Democratic retirements — in West Virginia and South Dakota — and the Schweitzer move will make it much easier for the GOP to win in Montana. That means the battle for the majority will likely be fought in a handful of red states with Democratic incumbents, including North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska.

Of course, a bunch of avoidable Senate losses in the past two cycles have pretty much beaten the excessive optimism out of us, hasn’t it?

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.