John Walsh

Montana Democrats nominate a really weird new Senate candidate in a last ditch effort to help Harry Reid

Sen. John Walsh’s (D-MT) decision to end his campaign amid allegations that he plagiarized an academic paper he turned in while attending the U.S. Army War College left Montana Democrats scrambling to find someone to run against Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race.

Well, with less than 80 days until the election, Democrats selected their replacement nominee over the weekend, choosing state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) to go up against Daines, who is viewed as the favorite in the fall:

Curtis, 34, was chosen Saturday as the Democrats’ replacement candidate for Sen. John Walsh, who withdrew from the race earlier this month over plagiarism allegations. She is a high school math teacher from Butte whose political experience amounts to a single term in the Montana Legislature, but she is touting her relative inexperience and blue-collar roots as assets, not liabilities.

She framed her campaign as one that will champion the interests of the working class against those of the wealthy and of corporations, and she put her Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines, squarely on the side of the latter.

“This is the fundamental difference between Steve Daines and me,” Curtis said. “He seems like a nice guy with a wonderful family, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand what life is like for the rest of us.”

USA FREEDOM Act just became a campaign issue in Montana’s Senate race

 "Overreach"

The National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs have made it into the Montana Senate race in a new ad from Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), who will take on newly-minted Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) this fall.

“We see abuses of power every day — overspending, Obamacare, the IRS. But the NSA’s program of collecting our phone records is really troubling,” Daines says in the 30-second ad. “As someone who worked in high tech, I know what government can do with our data. That’s why I stood up to the Washington establishment and supported the USA FREEDOM Act, to stop the NSA from collecting the records of innocent Americans.”

MT Senate: Newly minted Democrat incumbent trails by 14 points

More than a month after his controversial appointment, Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), has been unable to gain any traction in a race that is looking more and more likely to change hands this fall, making it one of the six seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate.

The latest poll out of Montana, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, finds that Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) holds a 14-point lead, 51/37, over Walsh.

Daines also holds an 18-point lead, 52/34, over another Democratic candidate, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, who is seen as a long-shot to knock off Walsh in the party’s June 3 primary.

Rather than picking a placeholder, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) appointed then-Lt. Gov. Walsh to the seat last month after Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) was confirmed to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was already not running for reelection, having announced his retirement early last year. He wasn’t nominated for the diplomatic post until December. Walsh announced his campaign in October.

Walsh is seen as Democrats’ best shot at keeping the seat in their hands, and they’d hoped that the appointment would give him time to establish himself as someone who is independent of his party and raise his profile.

MT Senate: Ad hits John Walsh on ethics controversy

American Crossroads hits John Walsh

John Walsh, Montana’s newly minted Democratic senator, is being hit over an ethics controversy dating back to his time as adjutant general of the state’s National Guard in a six-figure ad buy from American Crossroads, a conservative political action committee.

“Max Baucus, a 35-year legacy of service,” says the narrator. “Gov. Bulloch could have chosen anyone. Why John Walsh?”

The ad cuts away to news footage from a late-December KXLH story on the controversy, in which the news anchor reports that “a Department of Defense report says that Walsh improperly used his government position for personal gain.”

The questions about Walsh stem from an August 2010 U.S. Army inspector general report which found that the then-adjutant general of the Montana National Guard had improperly used his office for “private gain.”

MT Senate: Walsh appointed to serve out Baucus’ term

John Walsh

Rather than appointing a placeholder to serve the remainder of Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) term, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) made a move on Friday that Democrats hope will Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) an edge in November.

Baucus had already declared that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014, creating an opportunity for Republicans to gain a seat in the Senate. But when the President Obama appointed Baucus to serve as serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China, it was quickly hinted that Bullock would choose Walsh, who was already running for the Senate seat, to give him a boost against likely Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT).

Sure enough, on Friday, a day after the Senate confirmed Baucus’ nomination, that’s exactly what Bullock did. Walsh is the next senator from Montana and he wants you to know how independent he is:

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) will be Max Baucus’s replacement in the Senate, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced Friday.
[…]
Bullock said when making his decision, he was looking for many of the same qualities he looked for in picking Walsh as his running mate in 2012.

“Today, My friend and my colleague embarks on a new mission. I introduce to you United States Sen. John Walsh,” said Bullock.

Walsh promised to work across the aisle as senator, emphasizing many of his campaign’s themes in his remarks.

New polls show red state Senate Democrats in serious trouble

Senate Democrats running in red states are in serious trouble, according to internal polling released by a Republican super PAC, indicating that control of the chamber is very much in play this fall.

Americans Crossroads, a major Republican super PACs, commissioned polls in seven states, five of which are held by incumbent Senate Democrats. In a memo released on Friday, Steven Law, President and CEO of American Crossroads, detailed the results of the polling:

Virtually all Democrat incumbents in red states and purple states are in trouble – either down or tied in head-to-head contests with their likely GOP opponents, or upside down in approval ratings:

MT Senate: Ethics questions dog Democratic frontrunner

Democrats had hope that Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) would give them a shot at keeping control of a Senate seat that seems poised to be taken by Republicans later this year. But Harry Reid’s hand-picked candidate is facing questions over an alleged impropriety that occurred when he oversaw the Montana National Guard.

With Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) slated to serve as President Barack Obama’s next Ambassador to China, it looked as though Walsh would get a boost in the race with an appointment to the Senate by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT). But the questions over Walsh’s behavior could set him back in what needs to be an error-free campaign.

The questions about Walsh stem from an August 2010 U.S. Army inspector general report which found that the then-adjutant general of the Montana National Guard had improperly used his office for “private gain.”

“The [inspector general] report says Walsh improperly solicited other Guard leaders to join a non-governmental group, the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS),” reported Helena-based KXLH-TV. “Walsh wanted to boost Montana Guard membership in that association because he was running for vice-chairman of the group.”

The report described Walsh’s emails to colleagues as “coercive” and that he had “improperly used government resources,” including his federally-issued computer, to send emails on behalf of NGAUS. The news outlet points out that one of his subordinates described Walsh’s conduct as “very threatening.”

MT Senate: Baucus nomination could help Democrats keep seat

John Walsh

The appointment of Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) to serve as the next ambassador to China has many observers scratching their heads. But beneath the surface of the peculiar nomination, there may have been political and electoral implications under consideration.

Baucus had already declared that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014, creating an opportunity for Republicans to gain a seat in the Senate. In fact, most political prognosticators have favored the GOP to win the open seat, which is a must-win if they expect to take control of the chamber.

But when Baucus resigns from his seat after he’s confirmed to the diplomatic post, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) will be able to appoint his replacement, but it appears that he won’t appoint a placeholder.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Bullock will appoint Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT), who is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s favored candidate and believed to be Democrats’ best hope to keep the seat. Walsh is likely to face Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) in the general election.

Nathan Gonzalez of The Rothenberg Political Report noted that motivation “could be an effort by Democrats to give Walsh a leg up in the primary and general elections as a sitting senator, thereby giving him an opportunity to cultivate an independent image and raise his profile.”


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