The waiting and the rumors are over.
We have a candidate for governor -- and a good one. An outstanding one.
It will be an interesting race, since the governor and the Dems poured money into defeating state Sen. Brown in 2006, but failed to unseat him. It was, as we recall, the most expensive state legislative race in Montana history. Brown is a tireless, smart, dedicated public servant and a formidable politician -- there's a reason the Dems wanted to knock him off.
Brown is a common-sense conservative, soft-spoken and quick thinking. From what we understand, he is a successful businessman who earned it the old-fashioned way -- hard work and private enterprise.
And by all appearances he is a gentleman and a man of integrity. One struggles to think of examples where Democratic legislators had bad things to say about him in past sessions -- on the contrary, we recall him as being acknowledged to be a man of his word. In short, while he sticks with his principles, he does so while working and playing well with others -- an invaluable trait in a chief executive.
Of course, now that he is running for governor, the gloves will come off, and old friends will become new foes. Every aspect of his record, life, and work will come under scrutiny.
Not all of this is bad -- the scrutiny works both ways, and we should indeed scrutinize the behavior and records of our high officials.
But even after all of the inevitable mud is slung at Sen. Brown, we find it hard to believe that Republicans won't be enthusiastically working for Roy, donating to his campaign, and voting for him.
It is the Montana Headlines opinion that Republicans shouldn't and don't need to run a negative campaign against the sitting governor. Comparing policy positions and public actions, yes. But it would be both unseemly and counterproductive to engage in personal attacks at the governor. Yes, we realize that he drives many Montana Republicans crazy in just the same way that Clinton drove national Republicans crazy and that has led to the famous "Bush derangement syndrome" on the left in recent years.
Why some people elicit that response is an interesting psychological and political question -- but as has been proven over and over, giving in to that temptation is bad for one's mental health, hopeless as a political strategy, and probably not great for the state of one's soul.
In Sen. Brown, we have a candidate who can run a straight-up positive campaign, comparing the differences between Republican and Democratic principles and visions. He can run that kind of campaign, and he can win. What kind of campaign will be run against him? We'll have to wait and see.
There could, of course, still be a primary campaign on the GOP side -- just in case more than one Republican is itching for the privilege of taking on the formidable opposition. If so, we'll see how the field shakes out.
But for now, there is joy and (metaphorical) dancing in the Republican streets.
If you can, turn out to show support for Sen. Brown at his formal announcement Thursday morning in Billings.