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Petition pushes ‘the Dude’ for Montana senator

Montana Bengal

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The Dude for U.S. Senate?
Yes, if Libby Pratt has her way. Pratt, who said she lives on a ranch south of Lockwood, launched a Facebook page called Jeff Bridges for Montana U.S. Senator on Friday afternoon, and a related petition at Change.org shortly thereafter.
“If the Democrats want to win, they’ll go on their knees and beg him to run,” Pratt said.
The Montana Democratic Party is scrambling to find a candidate to replace U.S. Sen. John Walsh, who announced on Thursday that he was ending his campaign in the wake of allegations that he had plagiarized large portions of a U.S. Army War College research paper.
Pratt said she thought of Bridges as she was reading about the hunt for a new candidate in the Billings Gazette. Looking at the list of possible nominees, she said, “I just thought, ‘blah.’”
Then she thought of Bridges, whom she knew when she lived in the Paradise Vally 30 years ago, not far from where Bridges still lives.
“He’s so charismatic,” Pratt said. “He’s genuine and he loves Montana. He’s been here for about 40 years.”
Pratt said she doesn’t even like “The Dude,” the laid-back stoner portrayed by Bridges in “The Big Lebowski,” but it might be his best-known role and inevitably comes up when Bridges is mentioned. Even Pratt, on her Change.org petition, says, “We need The Dude to be Montana’s next U.S. Senator!”
Dave Parker, director of communications for Gov. Steve Bullock, said he hadn’t heard Bridges’ name come up in any discussions relating to the Senate race. When told about the petition drive, though, his first reaction was to laugh and say, “that’s awesome.”
Bridges joined Bullock for a couple of events in Montana in March, including a visit to the Billings Family YMCA to promote a childhood nutrition effort. The story in the Gazette included a very popular video showing the governor and the actor dancing with kids at the Y.
“He’s just a great guy,” Parker said. “He was so good with the kids.” Parker also said that Bridges “and the governor got along very well.” As for a candidacy by Bridges, Parker said, “that would certainly be fascinating.”
Bryan Watt, the spokesman for the Montana Democratic Party, responded rather circumspectly to the notion of a Bridges candidacy. In an email to Last Best News he said only:
“While the Dude may abide, our State Central Committee, with input from the Democrats across the state, will determine our next U.S. Senate nominee in an open and transparent process.”
Pratt said everyone she’s mentioned the possibility to thinks it’s a great idea, though she added, “at least my Democratic friends. I haven’t heard from any of my conservative friends.”
“He would just be such a fantastic ambassador for the new Montana,” she said. “He doesn’t have to worry about getting a lobbying job with Enron after he’s done.”


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