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February 10, 2016

Montana Gov. Going ‘Through a Process’ to Replace Max Baucus (Updated) (Video)

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | The Senate’s confirmation Thursday of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as ambassador to China immediately sets off the need for an appointment to replace him.

The onus falls on Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who must choose someone to fill out the remaining year of Baucus’ term. The governor has scheduled a press conference for Friday at noon ET.

Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who was elected on the same ticket as Bullock in 2012, is already running for Senate. While he’s the odds-on favorite to be appointed, his selection to replace Baucus is no sure thing.

An ally of the administration confirmed to CQ Roll Call that Bullock “has gone through a process, been very hands on, but kept it really close to him and top aides — he’s watched failed appointments in the past and he’s not the kind of guy to make stupid errors.

“He’s a lawyer and he’s thorough,” the source continued. “I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Bullock picks someone close to him — his lieutenant governor or someone from the cabinet — but I would be surprised if he does it without having spent a great amount of time weighing pros and cons.”

The advantages for Walsh in being appointed include increasing his name recognition and fundraising as a sitting senator.

Walsh, who raised $583,000 in the fourth quarter, is backed by national Democrats and is the front-runner for the nomination in the June 3 primary. He faces former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and rancher Dirk Adams.

GOP Rep. Steve Daines, who raised more than $1 million in the fourth quarter and had $1.9 million in cash on hand at the end of the year, is also running.

The race is rated Tossup/Tilts-Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • pappadave

    Ever notice that when something like this happens in a State with a Republican governor, it invariably results in a special election so the PEOPLE can choose a replacement and in a State with a Democrat governor, as often as not, the replacement is someone APPOINTED by the governor himself/herself–invariably someone from that governor’s own Party?

  • terjeanderson

    Ever notice that when something like this happens it is based on the laws of the state governing how vacancies are filled, not the party of the Governor?

    And you conveniently ignore recent Republicans appointed Senator by their state’s Republican Governor – Tim Scott in SC, Dean Heller in NV, Roger Wicker in MS, John Barrasso in WY, Lisa Murkowski in AK…

    Whoever Bullock picks is going to serve a few months, filling the vacancy until the election is held in November.

    But I guess it is more fun to make up paranoid partisan crap than to actually bother to check out how these things are done.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    It really doesn’t matter who is appointed. Daines has a 15% lead in the polls, and will win in November.

  • Roberto M

    Daines isn’t even running as of now. Montana is an enigma when it comes to elections and I wouldn’t count on Republicans winning this seat yet!

  • Rob_Chapman

    The selection of Senators to fill the terms of people who die or resign is a matter of state law and not decided by Governors.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Kirstin Gillibrand in New York.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Republicans haven’t won a Senate seat in Montana in decades.

    People in the west are independent and make their decisions based on reflection and not on crude party loyalty.

  • terjeanderson

    Yes, I was just pointing out Republican examples to “pappadave” – who made the ridiculous claim that only Democratic governors make these appointments. Other appointed Democrats still serving would include Michael Bennet, Bob Menendez, and Brian Schatz (running for re-election this year).

  • pappadave

    Not always. Remember that Christie had the OPTION of electing Lautenberg’s replacement or appointing him. He CHOSE to have an election.

  • The Roadster

    In a collectivist system, those chosen to try new things are selected according to the political whims of centralized authorities.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Thanks for the response.
    It is clear great minds run on similar tracks.
    Live and be well.

  • Rob_Chapman

    To protect himself from a Booker gubernatorial campaign, not to give the voters a choice.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    Yup, and in this race, by a 14-17% margin, it looks like they will defy history and vote Republican.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    Daines will run. Polls show him 14-17% ahead.

    Sure, Republican have been know to throw away elections rather stupidly, but they clearly have the advantage in this race.

  • terjeanderson

    No, Christie did appoint a replacement – Jeffrey Chiasea, who was appointed on June 6 and served until Booker was sworn in at the end of October.

    Christie had no choice but to hold a special election for the vacant seat – his only choice was when.

    Some argued that he could have waited until the general election of 2014, at which time NJ would have held two simultaneous elections – one to fill the remaining months of Lautenberg’s term, the other for the new 6 year term beginning in January 2015.

    Had he done that (which is what partisan Republicans wanted) Chiasea would have served until November 2014. But it was legally questionable if he could have deferred the election that long – and there would have been lawsuits had he tried to do so.

    He could also have declared a special election the same day as the regular gubernatorial election in November 2013. However Christie decided that he didn’t want to risk losing a few points off of his re-election margin by being on the same ballot as Booker running for Senate, turning out additional Democratic votes. So instead he cost NJ taxpayers additional millions in government expenses by holding the special election 3 weeks earlier – a waste of money for purely partisan reasons.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Jay, outside of illegally fixing the election, something Republicans are very good at, this is not a given for either candidate.

    But again, you might know something about nefarious plans afoot that are not public knowledge.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    Let’s get out of the gutter and have a conversation, shall we?

    Every single poll shows Daines ahead by 14-17%.

    The Democrats cheap ploy to appoint John Walsh as senator will get him money, but will also make it harder for him to distance himself from the national party, which is not popular in Montana.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Sorry Jeff, neither the last two gubenatorial nor the last two senatorial elections in Montana looked better for the Dems at this stage.
    In all those cases the Democratic candidates won with narrow majorities.
    Your belief in the cosmic destiny of the GOP to carry independent minded voters is as touching as it is simple-minded.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    It’s Jay, not Jeff.

    I checked those races you refer to- in 2008 the incumbent democrats had a huge leads in the polls and won by a huge margin, both gov and senate. In 2012 both race consistently showed a close race, and both democrats won with under 50%. This time polls show a huge lead for the republican. Sorry, Rob.

    And, my ‘belief in the cosmic destiny of the GOP’ is your straw man, I am basing my prediction on data.

  • Rob_Chapman

    You are correct on Baucus re-elction and I retract that part of my statement.

    However, if Max Baucus can win 74% of the vote in red Montana, it bodes poorly for assertions that party affiliation is a strong indicator for election outcomes.

    I repeat my predictions
    a). that Obamacare will take hold and either be a neutral issue or a slight edge for Dems;
    b), that economic vitality in 2014 will serve incumbents’ interests better than challengers; and
    c), that the definitive issues of the 2014 campaign are still unknown.

    These measures of uncertainty, in my view, intutitive though they are more reflective of the future than current free polling data.

    Thanks for your interest and your thought provoking responses.

  • JayfromBrooklyn

    Thank you for your return to civility.

    I am not talking about party affiliation, which as you correctly say doesn’t seem to matter to Montanans. I am talking about polls.

    In response to your predictions:
    a) Then why delay the employer mandate again?
    b) mixed bag- and hard to call an appointed senator an incumbent only 10 months later.
    c) The definitive issue will be ObamaCare. At least if the GOP leadership wins the battle with the TEA party.

  • Rob_Chapman

    The employer mandate delay is the response to he cash flow problems vaious small businesses and not-for-profits would have experienced if the mandate had been implemented on schedule.

    I would like to make two points here.

    First, no one outside the GOP views Obamacare as a finished product. Needed reforms such as adjustments to the small business mandate through the legislative process are impossible due to GOP intractability on Universal Health Care policy- i.e.- their irrationally exuberant obstructionism.

    Second, this is clear instance of damned if you do damned if you don’t. The GOP had two scripts for response to the small business mandate:
    a) if Obama implemented it,, the GOP would have excoriated the big government intrusiveness of the mandate;
    b) and I have to give the GOP props for their chutzpah in this, by providing needed mandate relief for small businesses and NFPs the GOP excoriates Obama for his “lawlessness.” Bravo to the GOP for its excellence in political theatricality.

    Obamacare will gain traction and succeed. The bigger the GOP goes in criticizing it, the bigger the backlash will be from their criticism when the public starts responding to the benefits of Universal Health Care.

    The polling now shows that among people indisposed toward Obamacare, the GOP campaign is working, but it is not moving the needle and public disapproval of Obamacare is the minority position.

    Though, conversely, such disapproval is strong in the red states, which are disproportionately over-represented in this senatorial class.

    However, what polling does not yet show is the effect marriage equality and marijuana liberalization will have in the 2014 election.

    The segments of the electorate who will support these latter issues are precisely the segments which pollsters have he most trouble polling and their weighting models nearly universally underweight these people.

    I will also postulate that the segments of the electorate supportive of marriage equality and marijuana liberalization is disproportionately larger in the western mountain states than it is in the nation as a whole and that this presents a big problem for the Dixie based GOP in those states.

    I continue to believe for these reasons that your confidence in the predictive power of the current polling is seriously misguided.

    But as always, I am open to your thoughts and your responses.

    Live and be well.

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