Now that the only viable Democratic Candidate from West of the Mississippi (Bill Richardson) has dropped out of the race , I would say due to insufficient media coverage, we have a Southerner, a Northeasterner, and a Midwesterner.
But due to the wonders of the electoral college, when it comes down to a general election, picking up an extra million votes means more in the Rocky Mountains than anywhere else in the country, so all Democratic candidates should be looking for ways to break into this traditionally red swath of territory between the Mississippi river and the Pacific Coast. Scanning through the paper today, I found an article that any potential Democratic candidate would be well advised to read.
The wealthy heir to the Mars candy fortune (and therefore worthy topic of national attention) Forrest E. Mars lost a court case , giving a gas company the right to drill for gas on parts of his ranch. Split estate leases, wherein the government leases land to ranches but retains the right to lease the mineral rights on them, are causing major problems for ranchers throughout Montana. The article quoted another Montana rancher as saying ” “They could come in here at any time. We’re under the gun.”
This is exactly the sentiment Democrats need to tap into: our dependence on fossil fuels not only raises operating costs for farms and ranches through higher fuel prices, but is resulting in massive environmental devastation, including ruining the land where families have been ranching for generations. If Democrats want to be the peoples party, a party that can compete with Mike Huckabee and win in the West, they need to stand up for people like Montana ranchers who don’t happen to be billionaires and therefore have nothing to defend their livelihoods with except their votes and the Democratic system. And they could sound a hell of a lot more genuine if they started talking about it before the primary schedule forces them to care about the West.