Brian Schweitzer sounds content with being a “former” pol. As we chat on the phone, he is looking out the window of his home on Georgetown Lake in western Montana. By mid-November, the lake is frozen, and the Pintler Mountains to the south are covered with snow. Schweitzer’s home sits at the end of a dirt road more than a mile long. “I’m 25 miles from groceries,” he says.
The 58-year-old Democrat is also a long way from Helena, the state capital, where he was governor from 2005 to 2013. And he’s even farther from Washington, D.C., where national Democrats had hoped he might succeed longtime senator Max Baucus in two years. They assumed when Baucus announced his retirement in April that Schweitzer was the party’s best (and maybe only) choice to replace him. But in July, Schweitzer said he wasn’t running, leaving Democrats scrambling to find a suitable candidate.