Baucus Retires; What’s Next for Montana?

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Montana’s Democratic giant, Senator Max Baucus, has announced that this election will be his last.  He has decided to retire.

So what happened to Max here?  Why would a seasoned senator and powerful committee chairman throw in the towel after thirty-five years of service?  The last time he ran, this thirty-five year U.S. Senate veteran had no primary challenger.  Baucus won his last election with an epic 73% margin of victory in an era where “too close to call” seems to be the favorite media mantra.  This chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is currently sitting on a campaign war chest of $3,594,924 cash-on-hand.

Yet, all the cash-on-hand in the entire state of Montana and all the seniority on Capitol Hill could not obscure the data from the latest February 2013 Public Policy Poll, which showed Baucus trailing his most likely Republican opponent, Congressman Steve Daines, of Montana’s 3rd Congressional District.  The latest poll gives the congressman a five point lead in a head to head race against the incumbent senator.  In short, if the race were today, Baucus would only garner 44% of the electorate’s votes, while Daines would command a very respectable 49%.

Some pundits say Baucus’ retirement announcement is just smart politics.  Max Baucus is a career politician who has been around Washington D.C. long enough to know how to read the writing on the marble.  Max knows when his it’s time to go home…and stay there.

Though Congressman Daines is the strongest challenger to Senator Baucus (if he were not retiring), he is by no means the only contender.  Republican Montana State Representative Champ Edmonds and Republican State Senator, Corey Stapleton, both from Montana’s 1st District, have tossed their proverbial hat in the equally proverbial ring.  The state’s Attorney General, Tim Fox, has also declared himself as a reasonable replacement for Baucus as well.

The same February poll which showed Daines leading Baucus 49%-44% if the race were to be held then, also showed that Baucus would defeat Edmunds as a challenger 47%-37%, Baucus defeating Fox 46%-43%, and Baucus defeating Stapleton 45%-38%.

So, what’s next for Montana and the coveted seat of outgoing veteran Max Baucus?  During the 2008 Presidential election, Senator John McCain barely defeated then Senator Obama with less than 3% of the total votes cast – 242,000 to 231,000.  Gov. Romney carried the state in his 2012 contest with President Obama with a much more respectable lead – 55.4% to 41.7%.

The 2012 presidential election results reveal the fact that the majority of voting Montana residents have turned against the liberal agenda of Barrack Hussein Obama by enough of a margin to defeat even a relative centrist like Baucus.  This key co-author of Obamacare knows that the majority of the electorate in his state sees the legislation as a “train-wreck.”  The 2012 election results in Montana also show that the majority of the voting population of that state have a rapidly diminishing respect for the incumbent president and everyone who rides his coattails.

Thus, Max is packing his bags and heading home, this time for good.

What remains to be seen is what democrats will be brave enough to step out on to the primary field to pick up the banner Baucus is cheerfully leaving on the pavement of this new battleground state.

It will be interesting to see if Congressman Daines shapes up to become the Republican nominee to face off against a would-be Democrat opponent despite his only recent election to Congress from his former seat in the Montana state-house.

One thing is for sure; Montana will be one more state to watch in what is sure to be one nail-biting Fall.

Author: Joe Calandra Jr.

Joe is a Global War on Terrorism veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Regent University's College of Arts and Sciences and a M.A. in American Government from The Robertson School of Government. He is a former National Journalism Center Intern with Human Events. He is the Political and Public Policy Analyst for Liberty News and a staff writer for "Liberty Intel," an exclusive subscription based report published by

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