An effort to draft Hollywood star and Paradise Valley resident Jeff Bridges as the Democratic Party's replacement for Sen. John Walsh on the November ballot has grown like wildfire over the weekend.
Former Livingston businesswoman Lizabeth “Libby” Pratt began the campaign to draft Bridges into the U.S. Senate race on Friday. The surge has even gotten the actor's attention.
Bridges was on Howard Stern's radio show Monday discussing marriage with his wife Susan. Stern asked Bridges what irritated his wife.
“I get excited, man, and I write checks my (expletive) can't cash,” Bridges said. As an example the actor spoke of a recent Web alert about himself.
“I looked down and I see this thing ‘Jeff Bridges for Senator' and I said, ‘What?' … There's a group of people that have called in and want me to run for senator of Montana, like 1,000 people, and I said, ‘Sue?'” Bridges said. “And she looks at me and says, ‘Don't even think about it.'”
Bridges is well known for his role as the Dude in the Coen brothers film “The Big Lebowski.” He also won an Academy Award for his role in “Crazy Heart.”
Pratt's online petition at Change.org had nearly 1,000 signatures Monday and the accompanying Facebook page gained 3,200 likes over the weekend.
Pratt, 55, now lives in Billings and said she came up with the idea during a jog. She knew Bridges and his wife Susan from when she lived in Livingston in the late 1980s.
“He is the bullet-proof candidate,” Pratt said. “He's the only candidate where you could post photos of him naked, smoking pot and it wouldn't affect him.”
Pratt said that “honchos” in the Democratic Party have expressed anger at her efforts but that at least one member of the central committee promised her to nominate Bridges if he attended the convention in Helena.
Gallatin Democratic activist Billy McWilliams said Monday that Bridges had two things important for candidates: money and name recognition.
“If he declared, he'd get major support,” McWilliams said.
In March, Bridges and his wife joined Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock to promote Montana's No Kid Hungry program. The actor is the spokesman for the national No Kid Hungry campaign.
A search of Federal Election Commission records shows that Bridges gave campaign contributions to former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus and former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer and, more recently, $1,000 to the Montana Democratic Party in 2012.
A search of statewide voter registration by the Gallatin County elections department did not show Bridges as a registered voter in the state. The Montana Secretary of State's office said the law requires candidates to have nine years of citizenship, be 30 years old, and be a resident of the state.
Troy Carter can be reached at 582-2630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.