Governor’s Brother Joins Clinton’s Montana Campaign

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Walter Schweitzer, brother of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, has joined Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign as a senior adviser in Montana.

Walter Schweitzer will serve as a paid consultant to Clinton in Montana, home to the nation’s last primary on June 3. As the race for the Democratic nomination stretches into the spring, the candidates have been working to establish their campaigns in Montana.

Both Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have been seeking endorsements and organizing supporters in recent weeks. Among the biggest prize being sought are the endorsements of the state’s superdelegates, who have largely decided to wait until after the primary to make a decision.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is one such superdelegate.

On Thursday, the governor said his brother’s decision to join the Clinton campaign would not influence his superdelegate vote.

“I said I am going to wait until Montana speaks,” the governor said in a telephone interview.

Walter Schweitzer did not return a call seeking comment.

In a statement by the Clinton campaign, Walter Schweitzer was touted as a third-generation Montana farmer and rancher who has worked as an agriculture consultant and volunteered on campaigns, including his brother’s successful bid in 2004.

“It’s important to Montana that Hillary Clinton be elected President,” Walter Schweitzer said in the statement. “I know she can turn our economy around and get us out of the Iraq war.”

At stake in the Montana primary are 17 delegates to the party’s national convention in August. Although each candidate is looking to win as many states as possible, it appears the nominee may be decided by the superdelegates — some 800 elected officials and party leaders.

Clinton leads in superdelegate endorsements, 259-235, according to the latest tally by the AP. However, Obama has been eating away at her lead for much of the past two months, picking up a majority of superdelegate endorsements since Super Tuesday.

In Montana, superdelegates include U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, who have both declined to endorse a candidate until after the primary.

With just over a month to go, Obama and Clinton have been looking to build their Montana organizations. Obama has opened several offices, while Clinton has hired a number of veteran state political operatives.

Also Thursday, the Clinton campaign announced Lena Belcourt will serve as its American Indian affairs coordinator and Kate Downen as communications director.

Belcourt, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, has worked as a health policy analyst and political consultant, and previously worked as a policy adviser to the governor.

Downen previously worked on Tester’s 2006 Senate campaign in which Tester defeated Republican incumbent Conrad Burns.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.