(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 12:42 a.m. | Montana Sen. Max Baucus has decided to retire instead of seek re-election next year, a sudden move that caught many colleagues and state Democrats off guard.
Democratic sources confirmed the news to CQ Roll Call on Tuesday morning — after which Baucus told reporters he was working to spread word to his staff.
“I’ve got people I’ve got to talk to first before I talk to the press, and that includes my staff,” he said. “I’m going to talk to my staff right now. And phone calls I’ve got to make. We’ll be talking later today.”
The Senate Finance chairman was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up in 2014 and Republicans had made clear they would heavily target the race. Baucus has served in the Senate since 1979 and has not faced difficult races in recent years.
Now that Baucus is exiting after this congress, Roll Call contributing editor Stuart Rothenberg rates this race as a Tossup in the Rothenberg Report.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will be at the top of Democrats’ wish list as the candidate in the open-seat race. A Democratic source indicated the ex-governor is leaning toward running.
The retirement also opens up the Finance gavel come 2104. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is next in line for that post, and Democratic sources indicated he would be likely to take it. Full story