Governor Bullock made the right choice in selecting John Walsh to replace Max Baucus for Senate. It’s certainly the best strategic choice from a Democrat’s perspective – even Walsh’s opponents can see that. But there are three reasons it’s also the right choice from a non-partisan perspective.
1. Transparency: I’m hearing a lot about how ‘untransparent’ Bullock’s choice was, the implication being that he got a call from Washington/Zionist World Headquarters that told him he should choose Walsh. But Bullock already chose Walsh as his Lt. Gov and endorsed him as Senator, so there is nothing mysterious about making him a Senator. It would be strange indeed openly declare that you think he’s the best for the job of Senator, and then appoint someone who he apparently believes is not as a good a candidate as John Walsh.
2. Voter choice: The Montana constitution makes clear that Bullock has a responsibility to do something inherently undemocratic. It does not put him in a good position. But doesn’t it make sense to choose someone who, less than two years ago, was on a winning, statewide ticket? Think of it this way – Pat Williams, by comparison, won the approval of Montana voters….in 1994. It’s fully possible for a governor to abuse his or her power in this situation: choose someone Montanans would never elect, who is far to the left or simply holds too many uncomfortable positions. Bullock instead who Montanans are familiar with, who many of them had already considered voting for, and who very recently survived the rigors of a statewide election. Moreover, Walsh will face another election in November, at which point his behavior in the Senate will be scrutinized and judged. That’s a far more democratic decision that appointing an interim Senator who will never have to face voters.
3. Practicality: the Senate operates on favors and reciprocity. Someone who’ll be gone in a few months will have a hard time getting anything done in the Senate. Democrats have no reason to prioritize what’s best for Montana if the Senator representing Montana will be gone in a few months; Republicans will have every incentive to drag their feet and hope they have the ever-compliant Steve Daines to deal with come January. Walsh would enter in a position no worse than many other Senators, and would have added motivation to get something done to contrast himself with his almost inevitable opponent.
Note that none of these reasons are exclusive to one party or the other – they are reasons Walsh is not just right the right call for the Democratic Party, but also the right call for Montana