Montana Politics

Baucus to China? Send John Walsh to Washington

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The big news in Montana politics today is that President Obama plans to announce his intention to nominate Senator Max Baucus to be the next U.S. ambassador to China. If he does, the entire landscape of the 2014 Montana Senate race changes—with an enormous decision facing Governor Bullock, who would appoint a replacement for Baucus.

Under that scenario, Governor Bullock should absolutely appoint John Walsh to the Senate.

The obvious upside is certainly political.  Running as Senator Walsh will be better than running as Lieutenant Governor Walsh and he will have the opportunity to establish himself in a more prominent role than as a candidate.

More significantly, appointing Walsh has upside for Montanans. Once he’s elected, he’ll have seniority over the rest of the 2014 Senate class. Appointing a placeholder candidate means appointing someone who will have little power and even less influence in Washington. By appointing Walsh, Bullock would ensure that Montana has a representative in the Senate who can influence legislation from day one instead of merely keeping the seat warm.

And voters would benefit. They’d have the chance to see candidate Walsh as Senator Walsh—and make a better-informed choice in November 2014.

There would certainly be risks for Walsh. Those appointed to seats have not historically been advantaged going into races for their full term, the risk (for Montanans and Walsh as a candidate) is worth the reward.

Still not convinced? Even Bohlinger chief strategist Bob Brigham agreed that Bullock should appoint John Walsh, writing in August- October:

bobbrigham

On this issue, we are in absolute agreement.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • I’m glad you posted the link to Nate Silver’s analysis. It kept eluding me while I was writing my post on the situation.

    If Max does jet west to suck pollution in Beijing, Bullock could appoint an elder statesman to replace Baucus: Pat Williams.

  • Well it seems from that article he has the experience working with the Chinese. This sure came out of nowhere today. Boy, democrats as a party must be happy but I’m sure there are quite a few individuals smarting over this one.

  • Mike Dennison reports in the 18 Dec. 2013 Billings Gazette that:

    “Bohlinger’s top campaign adviser, Bob Brigham, suggested Wednesday that Bullock appoint former U.S. Rep. Pat Williams to fill Baucus’ seat through 2014 — with the understanding that Williams wouldn’t run for election, leaving the existing candidates to continue with their campaigns.”

  • Send Baucus to China …. so easy, so obvious! We should have thought of this years ago! It’s works on both sides – gets him out of our hair, and maybe they will understand him when he speaks. Win win.

  • It doesn’t take a Rocket scientist to figure out why Baucus is the best man for the job in China, China does more trading with Montana than just about any state in the union.

    But what I just don’t understand is a placeholder for the seat. get Walsh in their now. Montanans flock to familiarity They will like John there. If your wondering about any blowback from the GOP….Don’t.

    Just why would we cater to a party willing to shutdown the Government in the first place.

    For goodness sake Montana Democrats get that spine grown!

  • Put Bohlinger in! He’s been the most liberal candidate the last few weeks, and this way he won’t have time to reverse his stance between the primary and general election – get him voting and see if his actions line up to his newly professed beliefs. I’m only halfway kidding – my main concern with Bohlinger is his flip flopping; I’d love to see his positions nailed down with votes before we even elect him, and if his votes as an appointed senator are in line with his stated opinions as a primary candidates, he’ll be a much more progressive US Senator than he’s ever been in his life.

  • If Bullock appoints Walsh, who does he appoint as the new Lt. Governor? And what does Walsh do for a job after he loses the November election? Suddenly the no-risk Senate campaign becomes more of a gamble for Johnny boy.

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