Brian Schweitzer, Bill Richardson. Janet Napolitano. Like ’em or not, these are Democratic governors who have gotten things done and continue to do so. Governors who are extremely popular in their respective home states because of their accomplishments. Democrats who not only have survived in primarily red state America but have prospered.

These are politicians who are providing a blue print for the resurgence of the entire Democratic Party. It isn’t going to come from Hillary Clinton or John Kerry or the Democratic Leadership Council. The pathway has been and continues to be engineered in the Mountain West.
Just how do they do it? Image has been helpful but achievements and straight talk are the motherlode. These politcos have struck gold by matching word and deed.

In both 2006 and 2008, the rallying cry is going to be reform and providing government systems that work to benefit the vast majority of Americans, not just corporate contributors. Grab your pick, don your miner’s hard hat and let’s get to harvesting the nuggets available to us in the form of governors.

This comes from a small town newpaper, the Hollister Free Lance, based in a rural part of Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley, in California.

FYI – I don’t especially agree with the shot taken at Michael Moore in the headline.

  Democrats Need More Will Rogers, Less Michael Moore,

  By John Yewell/City Editor
  Hollister Free Lance
  December 01, 2005

  Republicans have been embarrassed by scandal after scandal, there’s no end in sight in Iraq, and the president’s poll numbers are so bad that even the unpopular Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be seen with him a few weeks ago.

  Does the GOP have the Democrats right where they want them?

  Maybe. With the mid-term elections 11 months away, Democrats have done little to dampen hopes of significant electoral gains, despite a gerrymandered electoral map that, at a glance, holds little prospect for success. They are in danger of losing the battle of expectations before the first campaign shots are even fired…

  …The begged question might be: Is there an existing blueprint for that success? Or put another way: Where are those values actually working?

  …But the darling of Western Democrats is clearly Schweitzer, a pro-choice, pro-hunting Democrat who currently sports a 68 percent approval rating. That’s nine points higher than President Bush got in the state in 2004, and 25 points higher than Bush has there today.

  It’s also, by the by, the highest approval rate in the country among Democrats governors in states that went for Bush in 2004 – higher even than Virginia’s Mark Warner (another likely presidential candidate), where Bush’s margin of victory in 2004 was 12 points narrower (eight points v. 20 points) than in Montana.

  Schweitzer’s popularity is evidence that programs that put people first work politically.

  His administration is pursing ambitious energy plans to promote wind power, biodiesel and clean coal, as well as a health insurance program that pays 50 percent of the costs for small businesses.

  Schweitzer also created a quintessentially Western program to protect the vulnerable during Montana’s brutal winters. “Warm Hearts for Warm Homes” has spurred weatherizing of homes and set up a neighborhood monitoring system. “We have neighbors calling on neighbors,” he told Democrats in neighboring Idaho Tuesday night. “We will not leave anyone behind.”

  Convinced that Democrats can unite around, and win with, the principles that underpin such policy choices, Schweitzer told the Idaho Dems that the Republican lock on values can be broken. “I have a philosophy about elections,” he said. “I believe issues divide and values unite.”

  What do these plain speakin’, cowboy boot-wearin’, gun totin’, G-droppin’ populists know that Democrats elsewhere can learn? It starts with mutual respect. In the West, where stridency doesn’t pay, no one expects you to abandon your beliefs. But when issues such as gay marriage and abortion come up, you state your piece and move on.

  The West is proof that the values Democrats hold most dear – fairness, equity in education and health care, respect for the environment – have allies in unlikely places. When they lose the effete bi-coastal image and learn the robust lessons of Western life – when they speak more like Will Rogers and less like Michael Moore – they win.

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