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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

John WalshMontana governor Steve Bullock (D) has appointed Lieutenant Governor John Walsh to serve the remainder of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) term, potentially giving the Democrat a leg up in the state’s crucial November Senate election.

“I wanted to appoint someone who I believed would represent the values Montanans hold important,” Bullock said at the Friday press conference in Helena.

Walsh, who served as Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard before joining Bullock’s gubernatorial ticket in 2012, was already considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace the retiring Baucus. When President Obama selected Baucus as the new U.S. ambassador to China, it presented an opportunity for Walsh to head to Washington earlier than he had hoped.

Walsh’s appointment should allow him to lock up the Democratic nomination — one of his opponents, former lieutenant governor John Bohlinger, has suggested that he would drop out were Walsh appointed to the seat — and could theoretically give him a boost in November. Incumbents tend to have a major advantage in Senate elections; over 75 percent have been re-elected in every election cycle since 1980 (and in 8 of those 17 cycles, over 90 percent of incumbents won another term).

There is some reason to question how much the appointment will help Walsh, however. The new senator will only spend about eight months in office before Election Day, and given Congress’ historic unpopularity, it may not be the best time to run a campaign from Washington.

Perhaps luckily for Walsh, he is not the only congressman pursuing Baucus’ seat. The Republican nominee will most likely be U.S. Representative Steve Daines, who has represented Montana’s at-large congressional district since 2013. History suggests that the deeply unpopular Republican House majority could drag Daines down in the general election; in 2012, just one of the seven GOP representatives seeking Senate seats successfully won a spot in the upper chamber.

Republicans are counting on Montana being one of the net six seats they must gain to win a Senate majority in 2014, and early polling of the race suggests that Daines will begin as a heavy favorite in the state that President Obama lost by 14 percent in 2012. Democrats do tend to fare better in Senate elections in Montana, however; just two Republicans have represented the state in the Senate during the past century.

Senate Democrats are apparently happy to have Walsh join their ranks. Almost immediately after Governor Bullock announced the appointment, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) — the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — issued a statement applauding the decision, saying “John will demonstrate the leadership and courage to fight every day for Montana’s best interests, and will make a great senator for his state.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Hmmmm. Retired general. Bet the Repugnicans try to paint him as soft on defense, too!

    • Lovefacts

      You better believe it. When my husband, a retired CIA Intelligence Officer, ran for the VA state senate, his Republican opponent painted him as a liberal who was soft on crime and didn’t understand politics. EXCUSE ME!!!! John’s career was understanding politics, politicians, and businessmen. Who the heck did the Republicans think he dealt with?

    • Maryann C. Harbin


      ☻☻☻ ☻☻☻ ☻⤴☻☻ ☻☻☻�☻ ☻☻☻There is some reason to question how much the appointment will help Walsh, however.

  • Bryan Blake

    Keeping Senator Walsh along with all other Democratic Senators is crucial to saving our democracy. If the Richie Rich Revolutionaries are able to buy the US Senate then our democracy is doomed and our federal government will be officially transformed into an oligarchy-fascist government. The 2016 election could have these Richie Rich Revolutionaries nominate and hold the coronation of Antonin Scalia as King!

  • Stuart

    What makes the Senate the “upper” chamber?

    • Allan Richardson

      This is the term used in the Constitution, and the differences between the two houses’ qualifications and powers, imply a higher status for the Senate:
      Minimum age 25 for House, 30 for Senate, 35 for President and VP;
      House terms 2 years, all up for re-election every two years, Senate terms 6 years, one third up every two years (but not both from the same state);
      Only the House can initiate a taxation or appropriation bill but both houses must pass it, like any other bill;
      Only the Senate can confirm Presidential appointments;
      House is more numerous, each district elects one (and always has), districts per state proportional to population, minimum one;
      Senate has two members per state regardless of population, originally appointed by state legislatures, now by statewide vote (which some conservatives say ought to be changed back).

  • dpaano

    Hey, he’s a retired Army officer, like me, so I’d vote for him anytime!!!