I hadn’t intended to write about former Republican Lt. Governor John Bohlinger again tonight, but I was struck by his interview with Aaron Flint on the Voices of Montana radio program today. In it, Bohlinger repeated what he told the Billings Gazette yesterday, that the appointment would give the person named a huge advantage in the campaign:
Bohlinger said that if Bullock picks Walsh, Bohlinger “would give serous thoughts to withdrawing from the race.”
Bohlinger says the interim appointment would give Walsh the power, name recognition and fundraising ability of an incumbent, making it almost impossible to defeat him in the election.
On the VOM show, Bohlinger went on to specifically say that the person appointed by the governor would have a “40 yard head start” in a 100 yard race.
In saying it, Bohlinger was no doubt speaking about his concerns in a primary, but the logic applies just as well to a race against Steve Daines in November. Since there is no way that Governor Bullock can appoint someone with Bohlinger’s conservative record to the seat, Walsh is the obvious choice—the only declared candidate who has a chance of defeating Steve Daines in November.
Anyone who thinks it won’t take a serious amount of money to beat what is likely to be an enormous Daines war chest simply doesn’t understand how desperately Republicans want to regain the Senate—and the vast sums they’ll have at their disposal to do it. Given the opportunity to give a Montana Democrat the chance to build his base in the state while serving well in the Senate is perhaps the only way to counter the money that will flood the race on the Republican side.
Given that the last seven people appointed to fill Senate seats have won their subsequent reelection, that John Bohlinger knows it will confer a huge advantage to the person named, and that Bohlinger’s own campaign staff called for the appointment months ago, it seems obvious that Walsh should get the appointment.
Doing anything else would be putting personal interest about Democratic policy priorities. While Mr. Bohlinger is a VERY recent convert to those priorities, it would be nice to seem him commit to them.
There’s no scenario that makes a win against Steve Daines an easy one, but as Mr. Bohlinger himself says, why not give a Democrat who’s an effective leader the best chance to win the race, no matter where he starts?