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Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, left, speaks with union representatives at the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Mont. on Friday, May 10, 2013. Schweitzer, who was endorsed by the AFL-CIO during his two gubernatorial campaigns, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
interesting development in the 2014 Montana Senate race to fill retiring Senator Max Baucus' (D. MT) seat:

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has been elected chairman of the Stillwater Mining Co. board of directors.

The company announced Monday that Schweitzer will replace Frank McAllister, who has served as chairman and CEO of the precious metals mining company since 2001.

McAllister will continue as president and CEO during an interim period while the board seeks a candidate to succeed him.

Stillwater is Montana's largest publicly traded company. - The Missoulian, 5/20/13

Here's a little more background info:

Schweitzer was among four new board members elected on May 2. He and a New York hedge fund campaigned against alleged mismanagement by McAllister, who was re-elected to the board.

McAllister had been criticized as being overpaid after making almost $5 million last year even though the company's stock price has dropped sharply under his tenure. - The Republic, 5/20/13

So with this new development, the big question is how will this affect Schweitzer's decision to run for U.S. Senate?

"I have a timetable, and at some point in the future I will begin contacting the reporters that really matter, and most of them will have a telephone number that starts with 406," Schweitzer said in a phone interview, laughing as he suggested his calls would be to Montana journalists.

Schweitzer declined to elaborate on what his role as Stillwater's chairman will be, saying that he didn't want to discuss "doings and operations of the company not included in its quarterly reports." He did say that he will be involved in an "international search" for McAllister's replacement. Schweitzer also cast his work for the company in terms of what's best for the state.

"I got involved in this because it's such an important driver of jobs in Montana," Schweitzer said, adding: "The history in Montana is of extraordinary companies making investments outside and then going broke." (Stillwater recently made a poorly received major investment in a mine in Argentina.)

"This company is not going broke," Schweitzer continued. "It is going to prosper, and not by investing in other locales. We're going to make this mine the most efficient, safest and most profitable." - National Journal, 5/20/13

Hopefully Schweitzer will be making his decision soon.  If Schweitzer were to run for Baucus' seat, not only would he be a sure winner but a great upgrade for progressives and the people of Montana in the U.S. Senate.  Schweitzer said late last year that he wasn't interested in running for Senate but with Baucus out, he's now seriously looking at the race.  And there are some signs that he might be gearing up to run.  Recently he emphasized the important role unions have in creating a strong middle-class:

The two-term governor is considering a bid to replace fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who is stepping down after six terms.

Addressing the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Schweitzer said he has been receiving lots of calls from people urging him to run. He said it would be a family decision involving his wife, Nancy, and their three children.

"But if we decide to do this...we need to do it together," he said at the end of a wide-ranging speech that touched on his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the high costs of health care, and the need for organized labor to stand up against corporate interests.

"If we don't stand together, they'll pick us off one by one," he said. "We've got dirty, dark money flowing around. The most powerful are getting their way. They have the money and they're going to spend that money."

Schweitzer was endorsed by the AFL-CIO during his last run, in 2008, when union leaders cited his support for worker health insurance and retirement benefits and a higher minimum wage. He was also endorsed by the labor group in 2004. - Huffington Post, 5/11/13

Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau (D) and Stephanie Schriock (D), President of EMILY's List, have also been mentioned as potential candidates.  PCCC is still pushing their "Draft Brian Schweitzer" movement and if you would like to contribute to their cause, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon May 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Montana Kossaks.

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