It was a promising start in what looked like a wide open campaign for a seat in the United States Senate from Montana this year. Incumbent Republican Republican Conrad Burns is one of the most unpopular members of the Senate, and has been tied to the Tom DeLay – Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. So, when Paul Richards announced last year that he would be running in Montana for the Democratic nomination for the Senate, we expected a vigorous campaign on his part.
What actually happened was something else, more like a fizzle than a bang. It seems that, as a candidate, Paul Richards let his head of steam cool off fairly quickly. Although there are indications that Richards still considers himself a candidate, he surely cannot be called an active one. The Paul Richards for Senate blog has not been updated since the first post made by Richards on May 26, 2005. The Richards for Senate campaign site features a front page article that was written in July of last year.
A campaign is not just a democratic process. It’s also a demonstration of suitability. Candidates show how they would comport themselves as members of Congress by the way that they campaign. What the Paul Richards campaign seems to have shown is that, if Richards were elected to the Senate, he would have an initial spurt of energy, and then drop the ball.
There are three other Democratic candidates for the nomination to challenge Conrad Burns this November:
The Clint Wilkes campaign shows a lackluster effort, a bit more polished than what Paul Richards has produced, but still incomplete. The primary campaign really seems to be between Jon Tester and John Morrison.
Of these two Democratic candidates, Jon Tester is rumored to be the more progressive, and some polls show him as the frontrunner. His agenda has more of a national focus, addressing issues of education, foreign policy, social security, health care, energy, and the environment.
John Morrison seems more focused on state issues, and seems like the kind of Democrat who may be more focused on managing the flow of power than promoting idealistic causes. He claims that the following issues are at the center of his campaign: Public lands management, ethics reform, railroad competition, Social Security, health care, and defending programs for “Main Street” Americans in the federal budget.
A telling difference in the Tester and Morrison campaign web sites is what’s missing on each site. The Tester for Senate web site has a regularly updated blog, while the Morrison for Senate web site does not. On the other hand, the Morrison for Senate web site has a list of endorsements from powerful Democrats, while the Tester for Senate web site has no such list. These differences indicate two very different approaches to campaigning, with Morrison campaigning for the aid of power brokers within the Democratic Party, and Jon Tester putting more emphasis on a grassroots approach.