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. Hope

    Thank you! Let's move forward!

    April 23, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Ron B

    Baucus has always impressed me as a big bag of s–t. Good ridence. I am a democrat and am disgusted with him. What a coward. Democrats should be working to get Republicans out of the Senate in South Carolina. Scott is a moron and Graham does not represent the state.

    April 23, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. dan

    Since he was a congressman and a senator does he draw two paychecks for the rest of his life.

    April 23, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. AndyM

    "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."

    Unless the Republicans do something stupid like elect, in the primary, an insane Tea-Party candidate, or someone who makes stupid comments about rape instead of a more moderate but electable candidate.

    In other words, the Republicans have very little chance of picking up this seat.

    Even if they do, there will be very little practical difference, given Baucus' record.

    April 23, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Anthony

    term limits for all political offices!

    April 23, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What is so sad and outrageous about the GOPT/D's fillibuster of the background check is that some of them, well mostly republicans are now leaning towards stalling the immigration legislation because of the bombing in Boston. Well, if you're so concerned about domestic terrorism carried out by immigrants, I have one daunting question I need to ask you members of congress. Don't immigrants use assault weapons to kill Americans too? Then shouldn't we have a background check to avoid such individuals from also using assault weapons to attack Americans? What a dumb government!

    April 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Mac

    Good riddance. Just another Conservative Democrat whos main job was to halt progress anyway he could while getting rich on kickbacks from his banking buddies.This SOB should be tried for treason, not retiring to anyplace other than Leavenworth.

    April 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. ugh

    He sees Obamacare 'wiping out', and not wanting to be around to see the train wreck he recently predicted.....

    April 23, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Jerry

    We need to replace the WHOLE CONGRESS and start over again with people that have common sense and won't give away our future..

    April 23, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. steve

    I would encourage Montana voters to vote *only* for candidates who favor background checks, but I have my doubts it will be heard since the reason this Senator and three other Democratic Senators voted *against* background checks was because the people of their states are *against* such checks.

    April 23, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. glorydays

    Good. Now get busy and find a decent replacement.

    April 23, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. A Kickin` Donkey

    I don`t know Schwietzer that well not being from Montana but from my national perspective; I welcome him. Smart, politically intelligent and appears he can pull the non-tin-foil-hat portion of a western, rural state, regardless of political registration. I`d like to see Montana return to it`s image as an INDEPENDENT minded state. It certainly is not nor ever been evangelical bible thumper territory. The Republican party needs for Schwietzer to win. Maybe that would help them fix themselves.

    April 23, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. bipartiSam

    What is it going to take to get 12 year term limits, 401k not pensions, their salary reduced to 100k for Congress? ???????

    April 23, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. splinter48708

    Considering that ole Max helped to co-write the train wreck known as ObamaCare and persuaded fellow Democrats to not pay attention to their bosses back in their states, I can't say I'm sorry to see him go. In fact, I'll go help him pack his offices. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

    April 23, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. us_1776

    This is fine.

    Schweitzer will do a much better job.


    April 23, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Not Your Friends

    With more and still more people recognizing the fact that Republicans are truly not their friend unless they are wealthy, they will continue to vote for a Democrat. And as Latinos, who hold a very important voting block see that immigration reform is only being waved in front of them by Republicans in order to get their vote and then back to the way things were with that group, they will certainly not be persuaded to give any Republican another vote for a long, long time!

    April 23, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. bigbendjc

    I wonder how many of those retiring senators end up as lobbyists? Ah Congress, the revolving door!

    April 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Jinx9to88

    Yep he will go work for a lobbyist group just like every other Senator from both sides do and make 3 times his salary. He will also receive a pension and healthcare for the rest of his life on the back of us tax payers. Where do i sign up!!!

    April 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. ST

    Adios and never come back. You betrayed the President and the whole Democratic Party. We won't miss you at all as you were a huge burden to us.

    April 23, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Joe in Kalispell

    Schweitzer was held in check by a conservative state house. Both senators ran their campaigns as moderates and then voted liberal 95% of the time.

    April 23, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Loyalright

    Being one of the architects of Obamacare, he now realizes that he made a mistake and calls it a "Train Wreck". Are the Democrats pushing him out because of his new stand on Obamacare? What is the support from his Dem friends?

    April 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Anne-Florida

    You are telling us that this guy was in the Senate 36 years ( 6 terms at 6 years). People are crazy to continue to vote these guys in office. What is the matter with voters? We need a complete overhaul of the Senate and the House. If we leave it up to them, nothing will ever happen.

    April 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Leftcoastrocky

    Yes, but a republican replacement will vote against Obama's Supreme Court nominations

    April 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    You right wingers can say what you want about Obamacare but the reality is that when this legislation takes full effect, most Americans and many who didn't have coverage before will have coverage. Teenagers and young adults will be able to stay on their parents' premiums until the age of 32. Those with pre-existing conditions would no longer be discriminated against and be denied life saving operations. The elderly would be able to afford prescription and generic drugs that the couldn't afford to pay because of high costs. Families struggling to pay a mortage and send their kids off to college in these trying economic times wouldn't have to deal with the subsequent burden of struggling to pay high health care costs. And thats just the beginning.

    This legislation is also geared towards reducing our national debt by $250 billion over a ten year period and if yo ask me, I personally believe that a healthier America is simply a stronger America. Furthermore, whereas the Afghan and Iraq wars have severely inflated our national debt and taken many lives, the healthcare legislation is being spent in America on Americans and it is designed to preserve and save American lives. Let's face it, hating our black President is going to get you nowhere.

    April 23, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. budshot

    Don't le the hypocrisy door hit you on the way out.

    Good riddance.

    April 23, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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