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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brian Schweitzer

Assumed office 
January 3, 2005
Lieutenant John Bohlinger
Preceded by Judy Martz

Born September 4, 1955 (1955-09-04) (age 54)
Havre, Montana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nancy Hupp Schweitzer
Children Ben Schweitzer
Khai Schweitzer
Katrina Schweitzer
Residence Whitefish, Montana
Alma mater Colorado State University (B.Sc.)
Montana State University (M.Sc.)
Profession Rancher, Agribusiness
Religion Roman Catholic

Brian David Schweitzer (born September 4, 1955) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Montana. Schweitzer is the 23rd and current Governor of Montana, serving since January 2005. Schweitzer currently has one of the highest approval ratings among governors in the nation, with polls regularly showing a rating of above 60 percent.[1][2] Schweitzer is the chair of the Western Governors Association [3] and is former chair of the Democratic Governors Association.[4]


Early life

Schweitzer was born in Havre, Montana, the fourth of six children of Adam and Kay Schweitzer. His maternal grandparents were Irish and his paternal grandparents were ethnic Germans from present-day Russia.[5] Following his high school years at The Abbey in Canon City, Colorado, Schweitzer earned his Bachelor of Science degree in international agronomy from Colorado State University in 1978 and a Master of Science in soil science from Montana State University in 1980.

Upon finishing school, Schweitzer worked as an irrigation developer on projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He spent several years working in Libya[6] and Saudi Arabia and speaks Arabic.[7] He returned to Montana in 1986 to launch a ranching and irrigation business in Whitefish.

Bill Clinton appointed Schweitzer to the United States Department of Agriculture as a member of the Montana USDA Farm Service Agency committee, where he worked for seven years. While working for the USDA, he was appointed to the Montana Rural Development Board (1996) and the National Drought Task Force (1999).

Political career

Schweitzer speaking on the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In 2000, Schweitzer ran for U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent Conrad Burns, losing by a margin of 51 to 47 percent. When incumbent Governor Judy Martz announced she would not run for re-election in 2004, Schweitzer announced his candidacy. His running mate was John Bohlinger, a Republican state senator. He won the general election by a margin of 50 to 46 percent over Montana Secretary of State Bob Brown. Both while campaigning and as governor, Schweitzer became known for an easygoing and folksy public persona. The governor's dog, a Border Collie named Jag, regularly accompanies him on work days at the Capitol, as well as some other official occasions.[8]

Schweitzer's reputation led him to be mentioned by some political pundits in the liberal blogosphere as being among the top candidates for Vice President under Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.[9] Schweitzer gave a speech on American energy independence at the 2008 Democratic National Convention that was widely acclaimed.[10][11][12]

Political positions

Schweitzer speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In March 2005, Schweitzer suggested that Montana's National Guard troops be recalled from service in Iraq to assist firefighting during Montana's wildfire season. He has also gained national attention for his focus on converting Montana's vast coal reserves into fuel, which he has said is one way to wean America off of foreign oil. Schweitzer has been interviewed by 60 Minutes (first aired on February 26, 2006),[13] and Charlie Rose (March 7, 2007) regarding his work in this field.

Schweitzer is against gun control[8] and a vehement critic of the REAL ID legislation.[14]

Schweitzer signed in to Law the Montana Firearms Freedom Act on April 15, 2009 which became effective October 1, 2009. The law exempts firearms made and kept in Montana from Federal firearms regulations. It applies mostly to non-military types of firearms, along with ammunition and accessories such silencers,[15] provided that these items are manufactured in the state, and do not leave the state.

In August 2008, Schweitzer gave a well-received speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.[16] [17]


Governor Brian Schweitzer campaigning in Billings, Montana for Jon Tester in September 2006

As Governor, Schweitzer is an active member of the Democratic Governors Association. Prior to becoming Chair, he served as the organization's Vice Chair, Finance Chair, and Recruitment Chair.

As a result of Schweitzer's efforts, Montana’s electrical generation capacity[18] has increased more during his term as Governor than the previous 16 years combined.

On May 3, 2006, Schweitzer granted posthumous pardons to 78 persons convicted of sedition during World War I for making comments that were critical of the war. These were the first posthumous pardons in Montana history, but the convictions had become notorious in recent years because Montana's sedition law had been one of the broadest and harshest of its time: one man went to prison for calling food rationing a joke, while others were targeted because they refused to physically kiss a U.S. flag or to buy Liberty Bonds. At a public ceremony attended by family members of the pardon recipients, Schweitzer said, "[i]n times when our country is pushed to our limits, those are the times when it is most important to remember individual rights."[19][20]

Schweitzer was to co-lead an energy policy forum at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 2009, along with Republican Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate. Palin announced just days before the event that she would not be going to the nation's capital the weekend of the event, leaving Schweitzer alone to lead the discussion. The Montana governor caused a minor stir when he ribbed his colleague over the cancellation, joking in a reference to the high-profile purchase of a $150,000 wardrobe for Palin by the Republican Party during the 2008 campaign, "I don't know where she's going to be. You'll be stuck with me. There will be no glamor, certainly no snappy dressing. I brought my best two pairs of jeans. There's a little bit of a horse shit stain by the knee, but I've been washing that stuff out."[21]

Following General Motors' announced decision to terminate its contract with Billings-based Stillwater Mining Company to procure palladium, platinum, and rhodium for use in automobiles to reduce air pollution, Schweitzer broke Democratic party ranks to protest the Barack Obama administration's perceived bias toward Montana. He asked the administration to force GM, which is receiving an infusion of around $50 billion as part of the automotive corporation federal recovery plan, to honor its contract in a manner consistent with the "buy American" provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. According to Schweitzer and the mining company, the Montana mines operated by Stillwater are the only source of palladium and platinum outside the Republic of South Africa and the Russian Federation.[22] "When the American people find out that we have spent tens of billions of dollars to bail out General Motors and then they turn around and void a contract with Stillwater Mine, the only source of platinum, palladium and rhodium in the Western Hemisphere, and continues to buy that metal from the Russians and South Africans, they will be outraged," Schweitzer asserted.[23]

Yellow Ribbon Program

Following the Iraq war veteran Chris Dana’s suicide in 2007,[24] Governor Schweitzer started the Yellow Ribbon Program. [25] Governor Schweitzer testified in Washington D.C. saying, “the federal government does an excellent job at turning a civilian into a warrior, I think they have an equal responsibility in turning that warrior back into a civilian.”[26] This issue was particularly important to Montana's Governor because over 13% of adult Montanans are veterans. [27]

This program developed policies and procedures that each Montana Guardsmen would undergo to ensure that physical and mental health were documented before, during, and after deployment. Automatic enrollment into the Veterans Affairs system would also be required of guardsmen to ensure delivery of benefits entitled. [28]

Following its success in Montana, the Yellow Ribbon Program was implemented nationally and is now a part of the National Defense Act. [29]


Governor Schweitzer has endorsed an expansion of wind, solar, and biofuel technologies as well as a plan to turn coal into diesel fuel. [30]


Schweitzer married Nancy Hupp in 1982. Nancy was born on November 3, 1959 in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Billings, Montana in 1966.[31] The couple began a family after returning to Montana, and are the parents of three children: Ben, Khai, and Katrina. As the father of an autistic son (Ben), Schweitzer has also spoken publicly about autism-related issues. In July 2008, he responded to controversial on-air remarks by conservative talk radio host Michael Savage, saying: "I'm very close to some autistic people and I can tell you who is a brat. That would be Michael Savage, not the autistic people of Montana."[32]

Electoral history

Montana Gubernatorial Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer (incumbent) 316,509 65.4 +15.0
Republican Roy Brown 157,894 32.6 -13.4
Libertarian Stan Jones 9,790 2.0 +0.3
Montana Gubernatorial Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 225,016 50.4
Republican Bob Brown 205,313 46.0
Green Robert Kelleher 8,393 1.9
Libertarian Stan Jones 7,424 1.7
Montana U.S. Senate Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Conrad Burns (incumbent) 208,082 50.6
Democratic Brian Schweitzer 194,430 47.2
Reform Gary Lee 9,089 2.2


  1. ^
  2. ^ SurveyUSA - 50 State Governor 10/19 Sort By State
  3. ^ Govs. Schweitzer, Otter elected to lead WGA, energy and climate change high priorities
  4. ^ begins 2010 election with a bang
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dickinson, Tim (December 15, 2005), "Schweitzer on Iraq", Rolling Stone, 
  7. ^ Crummy, Karen E. (November 25, 2006), "Dems look to Big Sky", The Denver Post, 
  8. ^ a b "There's electoral gold in those hills". The Economist. 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times (2008). Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer makes the most of the spotlight. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  11. ^ CBS News (2008). A Star Is Born?. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  12. ^ Newsweek (2008). Would Someone Please Give This Schweitzer Guy a Keynote Address?. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  13. ^ Diesel Power Magazine (December 2006 issue)
  14. ^ "Montana Governor on 'Real ID' Act". National Public Radio. 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  15. ^ Ernest Hancock (4 May 2009). "Montana Governor Signs Revolutionary New Gun Law". Republic Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  16. ^ Chris Cillizza (2009-09-05). "The Friday Line: The Best Speeches". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  17. ^ Chris Cillizza (2009-09-10). "Brian Schweitzer Eyes the Future". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Montana governor to pardon 78 convicted during WWI", USA, May 3, 2006.
  20. ^ "Pardons granted 88 Years After Crimes of Sedition", NY, May 3, 2006.
  21. ^ Palin Ribbed by Montana Guv for Being No Show
  22. ^ Montana gov blasts GM mine contract cancellation
  23. ^ Schweitzer Supports Stillwater Mine
  24. ^ War Vet Laid to Rest, Helena Independent Record, March 10, 2007
  25. ^ Helena Independent Record, April 2, 2007
  26. ^ U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Fight Now Pay Later: The Future Costs of Funding the Iraq War, June 12, 2008
  27. ^ U.S. Census Bureau
  28. ^ Post Deployment Health Reassessment Program
  29. ^ S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act
  30. ^ Patrick Mazza, “Montana moving to top ranks in renewable energy, Gov. Brian Schweitzer tells Harvesting Clean Energy Conference,” Climate Solutions, Jan 30, 2009
  31. ^ Johnson, Charles S. (2006-07-02). "Growing on the job". Helena Independent Record. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  32. ^ "Schweitzer reacts to radio host's autism remarks", KRTV in Great Falls, Montana, July 22, 2008

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Judy Martz
Governor of Montana
January 3, 2005–present
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jack Mudd
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Montana
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Jon Tester
Preceded by
Mark O'Keefe
Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Montana
2004, 2008
Succeeded by
Current nominee
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
Jill Biden
Second Lady of the United States
United States order of precedence
In Montana
Succeeded by
Mayors of Montana cities if present
next fixed Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Rounds
Governor of South Dakota
United States order of precedence
Outside Montana
Succeeded by
Christine Gregoire
Governor of Washington


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