How move by Montana governor may impact 2014 battle for Senate
February 7th, 2014
01:00 PM ET
9 years ago

How move by Montana governor may impact 2014 battle for Senate

*updated 1:15pm

(CNN) - Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh now has the job he's already been running for: U.S. senator.

Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock Friday named Walsh, a fellow Democrat, to fill the remainder of the term of Sen. Max Baucus, who was overwhelmingly confirmed Thursday as U.S. ambassador to China.

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"Today my friend and my colleague embarks on a new mission. I introduce to you United States Sen. John Walsh," said Bullock at a news conference in the state capitol building in Helena.

Baucus, a six-term Democratic senator, announced last April that he would retire at the end of 2014 rather than run for re-election. In October, Walsh announced his bid to try to keep the seat in party hands.

Late last year the White House announced it would nominate Baucus as U.S. ambassador to China, spurring speculation that Bullock would name Walsh to serve as interim senator. The power of incumbency gives Walsh better name recognition and an easier ability to raise campaign cash. That will come in handy as Walsh prepares to fend off a primary challenge from former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger.

And it will also help in the general election. With Baucus gone, Republicans see Montana, a state that leans conservative, as a strong pickup possibility in November midterms. The GOP needs to win back six Democratic held seats to reclaim control of the Senate. The have a strong candidate in Rep. Steve Daines, the likely Republican nominee.

At the news conference, Walsh touted his bipartisan efforts and mentioned Daines as well as Montana's other senator, Democrat Jon Tester.

"Sen. Baucus does leave big boots to fill," said Walsh. "I know that working with Sen. Tester and Congressman Daines, we can meet those challenges."

Many Republicans argue that with the approval ratings for Congress at or near all time lows, sending Walsh to Washington may backfire on the Democrats.

"John Walsh, He's Already Gone Washington," said the headline of an email sent to reporters by America Rising, a pro-GOP opposition research shop.

And national Republicans were quick to tie Walsh to President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Harry Reid and President Obama have pulled all the strings they can to clear the way for their hand-picked, scandal-plagued choice John Walsh," said the narrator in a new commercial by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that is expected to run on-line for two weeks.

Serving in the Senate will also give Walsh a voting record, which could also be used against him by Republicans.

Walsh, 53, served as an adjutant general in the Montana National Guard, spending time in Iraq. His first run for office was in 2012, when he won election for lieutenant governor on the same ticket as Bullock.

Filed under: 2014 • Congress • Montana • Senate
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    "Sen. Baucus does leave big boots to fill," said Walsh."
    He also leaves the rancid stink of Obamacare. Rotsa ruck, pal.

    February 7, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    How nice it will be to replace the clown, Max Baucus with a REAL Democrat!

    February 7, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Nice move, Governor.

    February 7, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Walsh has a passing resemblance to celebrity chef, Robert Irvine, but I doubt if he has the "guns" that Chef Robert has.

    February 7, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. MTATL67

    The Republicans will not take the Senate in fact they will lose seats in the Senate.

    February 7, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Good job. Hopefully Montana will elect Walsh this fall. It has been difficult getting rid of the stink of the republican Great Recession of 2008 caused by republican economics.

    February 7, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Rick Perry / Ted Cruz 2016

    When the Lord returns , first stop is Texas !

    February 7, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "Yeah, but, Republicans keep saying that will hurt businesses because those are "jobs that Americans don't want to work.""

    Name the Republicans who said that... otherwise, your comment is baseless.

    You don't like it when I say "the right wing", so I said "Republicans" instead. I shall revert back to saying "the right wing" because it is more accurate. Fox News reported about it on July 24, 3012. During the Bush years, every time the right wing talks about jobs that Americans don't want to work, they have pointed out that mass deportations would hurt businesses because it would create a vacuum in the labor pool.
    That's odd... I'm looking at Fox's report of July 24, 2012, and it says nothing of the sort. What it does say is:

    "Immediately after taking office, the Obama administration replaced effective worksite enforcement that targeted both employers and illegal workers with meaningless paper audits and modest fines. Meanwhile, the administration refused to consider making E-Verify mandatory for all employers, even resisting efforts to permanently reauthorize it, despite hundreds of thousands of businesses voluntarily using the program.

    Failing to hold employers who hire illegal aliens accountable was an early, yet clear signal that the Obama administration intended to derail all enforcement. "

    I'm CERTAIN it's just a misinterpretation on your part.

    February 7, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    Rick Perry / Ted Cruz 2016

    When the Lord returns , first stop is Texas !
    Uh. Isn't the Lord's first tax when he returns is to punish sinners and purge them from the Earth?

    February 7, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. CryBabies

    Don't unpack your bags Mr. Walsh.

    February 7, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC

    Rick Perry / Ted Cruz 2016

    When the Lord returns , first stop is Texas !
    Uh. Isn't the Lord's first tax when he returns is to punish sinners and purge them from the Earth?
    We really should let Texas form its own country with no gun control, no science in the classroom, and Christian Theocratic Laws. Then when they become into a 3rd world nation, refuse to send aid.

    February 7, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. jed clampett

    It is very easy to see that the republicans have all their eggs in the Obamacare/Romneycare basket.

    February 7, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Not likely to have any real impact at all.

    February 7, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    "I'm CERTAIN it's just a misinterpretation on your part."
    Different article and cherry picking on your part. I'm not talking about recent remarks, anyway.

    Try a web search using these key words ( Deporting Illegal Immigrants "empty jobs" ). Make sure that you put quotes around "empty jobs" so that you can get hits to all of the conservative blogs talking about how deporting illegals would create so many jobs for Americans.

    When Fair says crack down "HARD", I think she means rounding people up and deporting them, en masse. I don't see how she could possibly be talking about anything else. Fair wants our "laws enforced", which is the current, meaningless battle cry among consrvatives on the immigration issue.

    February 7, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |