Sen. Baucus not seeking a seventh term
April 23rd, 2013
10:18 AM ET
10 years ago

Sen. Baucus not seeking a seventh term

(CNN) - Longtime Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, will not seek re-election next year, he said in a statement Tuesday.

"After much consideration and many conversations with my wife Mel and our family, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2014. I will serve out my term, and then it will be time to go home to Montana," he said.

During the remainder of term, Baucus pledged to fight the nation's fiscal issues and work for highway and farm bill that will support jobs in his state.

"I want to focus the next year and a half on serving Montana unconstrained by the demands of a campaign," he said. "Then, I want to come home and spend time with Mel, my son Zeno, and our family enjoying the Montana public lands we've fought hard to keep open and untarnished."

Meanwhile, former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer is leaning towards running, said multiples Democrats with knowledge of Schweitzer's thinking. The officials asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.

Baucus, now in his sixth term, becomes the sixth Democrat overall to retire from the Senate after his term is up. He's the third from a red state to not seek re-election. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota both made their announcements earlier this year.

Three others from less conservative states are Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.

The Democrats control the Senate 55-45 (with two independents caucusing with the party), but as of now they are defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs in November 2014.

Meanwhile, two Republicans in the upper chamber will not seek re-election: Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

A knowledgeable Democratic source said he made the decision because of several factors: he's getting older, he is not that happy in the Senate these days, and he is relatively newly married and is actually happy in his personal life

He raised more than $1.5 million in the first three months this year and has almost $5 million in his campaign war chest, according to Federal Election Commission reports. He was expected to face a tough re-election bid next year.

In recent news, Baucus was one of the few Democrats who voted against a bipartisan compromise to expand the background check system to include private sales at gun shows and online.

Gun control advocates vowed to aggressively target Democrats up for re-election next year who voted down the background check proposal.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor said she was happy to see the Democratic senator go.

"Good bye, Senator K Street. Max Baucus has a history of voting with corporate interests and not the interests of Montana voters," she said in a statement. "Montana will finally have a chance to have a senator with its best interests at heart, and we hope Brian Schweitzer jumps into the race immediately."

Separately, some senior Democrats say they are thrilled about the idea of Schweitzer potentially jumping into the race. One called it an "upgrade."

Another source said Schweitzer is being heavily recruited but is not yet 100% certain he'll make the Senate bid.

Before being elected to the Senate in 1978, Baucus served in the U.S. House for two terms and in the Montana House of Representatives for one year.

The senior senator from Montana serves as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a highly influential post in the Senate.

In 2008, he was elected by a wide margin, 73%-27%, over his Republican opponent, Bob Kelleher.

In last year's Senate race in Montana, the junior senator, Democrat Jon Tester, narrowly won re-election against Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sees the Baucus news as another sign that the Democrats will have hard time keeping control of the Senate next year.

"The 2014 electoral map is in free-fall for Democrats, who were already facing a daunting challenge," said NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins, in a statement.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sees it differently

"Democrats have had a great deal of electoral success in Montana over the last decade, and I am confident that will continue," said Sen. Michael Bennet, DSCC chairman, in a statement. "Democrats built an unprecedented ground game in Montana in 2012 when Senator Tester was reelected, and we will continue to invest all the resources necessary to hold this seat."

The Washington Post first reported the story.

- CNN's Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2014 • Max Baucus • Montana • Senate
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. John from Brooklyn

    We'll miss you. Come on Schweitzer!

    April 23, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. Al-NY,NY

    let's see what whack-job the t-p will run (Akin/Murdoch) to lose this seat that they should win

    April 23, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Good riddance. Dude had to know he was retiring last week and he still helped filibuster the background check legislation rather than let it go to debate and receive a vote. What a petty, pathetic little man.

    April 23, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. roro

    Bye Bye Baucus. Shine on Schweitzer.

    April 23, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Melissa

    Agreed, Sniffit. He was a complete coward with his vote.

    April 23, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Thank goodness. Schweitzer is the ideal candidate for the job. Baucus is a DINO and it's time he step.

    April 23, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. End the two parties

    Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer is leaning towards running for the seat, saying let me in on that gravy train of lobbyists money. I'll be a billionaire in six years.

    April 23, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. dean

    he doesn't want to be around when his Obamacare hits the fan

    April 23, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. California Gary

    I think Schweitzer will be a welcome change. He has a lot of positive energy and seems to have his head screwed on right, unlike our friend Max.

    April 23, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. Bud

    I think right wingers and left wingers should agree that all these guys stay in office too long. These jobs were not designed to be "careers" but that people would take time from their regular jobs as doctors, lawyers, business people, etc.

    April 23, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Mel

    "Good riddance. Dude had to know he was retiring last week and he still helped filibuster the background check legislation rather than let it go to debate and receive a vote. What a petty, pathetic little man."
    In all likelihood Baucus probably voted the way his constituents would have wanted him to do.

    April 23, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. Louise

    Now if we can get the other 99 to go!

    April 23, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Scott

    He will be missed. A politician that breaks from party ranks to vote for their constituents views is a good thing. Who did you Democrats think he was representing, the citizens of Montana or Obama's backroom boys from Chicago?

    April 23, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. OKC

    Thank you Senetor for your vote putting and end to wasted time effort and money for a do nothing bill.
    By now only the ignorant don't know background checks are required for gun show sales and internet sales.
    Sorry a father should be able give his child a rifle.

    April 23, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Cephus

    Adios mr big pharma! They are dropping like cockroaches!

    April 23, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Eli

    Good riddance to that drunken peice of s***.

    I thought I might have been forced to vote red for the first time in my life but fortunately I don't have to stoop that low.

    April 23, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. pkrbkr3

    I say let's vote out everyone who voted against gun background check legislation. They insulted the intelligence of 90% of the American people....

    April 23, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "Good riddance. Dude had to know he was retiring last week and he still helped filibuster the background check legislation rather than let it go to debate and receive a vote. What a petty, pathetic little man."
    In all likelihood Baucus probably voted the way his constituents would have wanted him to do."

    I understand your thought process there, but if the point of representative gov't was to simply vote by proxy via some puppet and nothing more, then everything could be reduced to general popular votes and we could get rid of congress. Thankfully, that's not the point of representative gov't or the systems in place. Baucus is and always has been a coward unwilling and unable to exercise his own good judgment (assuming he has any...seeing as how he never proved it by his deeds) in the face of situation where his constituents might be wrong or the clear right answer was to take a little political heat for doing the right thing. Blocking debate and an up or down vote on that legislation was a prime example. He was too frightened of losing the post-congressional lobbyist gravy train opportunities that will be available to him to allow debate and majority rule to take place. It will be interesting to see where he ends up and who he ends up peddling influence for.

    April 23, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Figure it out folkes,
    Baucus doesn't want to be around when Obama Care hits the Fan. He says there is a Train Wreck coming. You ain't seen nothing yet ! Hey, everybody and his brother wants to get on the Gravy Train with someone else paying the Tab. Guess what? It is you that is going to pay the Tab. And you ain't going to like it! Along with that 11 Million illegals also want to get on the Gravy Train. Can anyone say Depression, on Steriods !!

    April 23, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. Aaron

    He's the biggest reason healthcare reform was watered down. He stalled things in the committee for months and months, allowing the opposition to start the crazy talk about death panels etc. I am glad he's leaving.

    April 23, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. MTview

    But can Brian Schweitzer avoid indictment prior to election? The R's must be salivating at the prospect of BS as their opponent.

    April 23, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Imamontanalady

    Baucus turned on Montana and it's time for him to go. But if I had to choose between him and Schweitzer – Baucus would win hands down. Schweitzer is self-centered and self-motivated and created a very oppositional atmosphere in Helena and they were glad to see him go.

    April 23, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. ladeeda

    Well – this IS interesting...

    April 23, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. JohnK

    The point of representative government is to represent the people not some wealthy smuck or wealthy smuck organization that can buy a Senator's vote. Good riddance to representatives supported by K Street! Thank god that the popular vote will find a representative of their interests.

    April 23, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Deedles

    Answer to Sniffit – could not have been better put. Glad he's going and it will be interesting to see what pocket he lands in. Absolute coward...& boy do I resent paying him the big "retirement" bucks & perks for the rest of his life. Disgusting.

    April 23, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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