HELENA – Montana’s governor picked a fellow Democrat, Lt. Gov. John Walsh, on Friday to be interim U.S. senator, an appointment that could kick-start Walsh’s election campaign as Democrats seek to keep the seat – and control of the U.S. Senate – in their hands.
Walsh, 53, is to be sworn in Tuesday to serve the remainder of Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’ term. That will give Walsh nine months to build a record as an incumbent as he looks to a potential general-election campaign against a formidable opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.
Walsh said in a news conference that he would keep Montana’s interests first and said he would not be “sucked in” to the political culture of Washington.
The Senate confirmed Baucus on Thursday as the ambassador to China with a 96-0 vote. Baucus has served in the Senate for 35 years, and he announced last year that he would not seek another term.
Walsh will serve the remainder of Baucus’ term, which ends in January 2015.
Republicans are seeking to win a net of six seats in November to gain control of the Senate.