Big news: Max Baucus to retire

posted at 10:44 am on April 23, 2013 by Allahpundit

The first Senate casualty of ObamaCare?

First elected in 1978, Baucus has been the top Democrat on the powerful tax-writing committee for more than a dozen years. At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, he worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug plan, but he also served as the lead defender against George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to partially privatize Social Security and played a critical role in writing President Obama’s national health-care plan…

Despite Obama’s double-digit defeat in Montana, Democrats intend to vigorously defend the seat. The leading Democratic candidate is former governor Schweitzer, a popular figure who at times has feuded with Baucus over parochial political issues in the Big Sky state.

He made news twice last week, once for voting against the Democrats’ gun-control bills and the other for warning that ObamaCare, of which he was a lead architect, would be a “train wreck” if not implemented properly. Maybe he hears the train whistle in the distance and figures he’ll get off the tracks now. As for the gun-control votes, two theories. One: He really does believe in gun rights. He’s not just pandering to his red-state constituency. Two: He was fully prepared to run again (he has millions in the bank to fund a campaign), but something happened between last Wednesday and today to make him suddenly reconsider. Hmmm.

Normally the retirement of a six-term Democratic incumbent from a conservative state is cause for celebration, but I don’t know. When PPP polled Montana two months ago, Baucus’s approval was underwater at 45/48. Republicans will be out in force next year for the midterms, and Baucus hasn’t had to run a midterm campaign under a Democratic president since his first election in 1978. With ObamaCare hanging over his head, he was beatable. Brian Schweitzer, his likely replacement as Democratic nominee who once said he couldn’t run for Senate because he’s not “senile enough,” has huge name recognition as governor, a favorable rating of 56/37 per PPP, and none of Baucus’s Senate baggage (“Too tied to the Washington special interests, too aloof, too close to the Obama administration”). Arguably the Democrats are trading up here, to the point where I’m tempted to wonder if maybe they pushed Baucus out somehow. Is that even possible, though, with a six-term Senator who’s written most of the country’s tax laws? They’d have to have some awfully grimy dirt on him. And if they did, why not drop it on him before the gun votes so that he’d vote their way?

Exit question: What will the poor lobbyists do now?

Update: Via NRO’s Andrew Stiles, here’s Schweitzer four days ago checking the gun-rights box:

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer says his position on gun control is one reason he couldn’t step onto the national political stage.

Political pundits have mentioned Schweitzer as a possible candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports a bearded Schweitzer told some Montana State University students on Thursday that he couldn’t give an acceptable answer to voters in states like Iowa and Florida if they asked him about gun control. He says his response would be something like: “You control yours, I’ll control mine.”

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Two Party Evil Money Cult in Washington D.C..

APACHEWHOKNOWS on April 23, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Robert_Paulson on April 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM

The advantage Rehberg should have in 2014 is a VERY GOP friendly electorate. Schweitzer would be very formidable but if we learn from past mistakes and are playing on more favorable ground than we were on in 2012 we might be able to win in spite of ourselves.

alchemist19 on April 23, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Max Baucus is the 6th Democrat Senator to announce he will not be running for re-election in 2014.

6 out of the 20 Democrat Senators who are up for re-election in 2014. Plus John Kerry’s move to the State Dept. Who is next?

Here is a list of the 20 Democrat Senators in Class II who are up for re-election in 2014:

Democrats (20)

Max Baucus (D-MT) – Not running for re-election

Mark Begich (D-AK)

Christopher Coons (D-DE)

Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Al Franken (D-MN)

Kay Hagan (D-NC)

Tom Harkin (D-IA) – Not running for re-election

Tim Johnson (D-SD) – Not running for re-election

John Kerry (D-MA) – Special Election Primary to replace John Kerry is next week.

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) – Not running for re-election

Carl Levin (D-MI) – Not running for re-elction

Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Jack Reed (D-RI)

John Rockefeller IV (D-WV) – Not running for re-election

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Mark Udall (D-CO)

Tom Udall (D-NM)

Mark Warner (D-VA)

Who are the Republican candidates who will run for these Senate seats?

wren on April 23, 2013 at 3:35 PM

The first Senate casualty of ObamaCare?

No, I’d argue that was Evan Bayh (waffled, voted for it, quickly announced his “retirement,” now criticizes medical device tax etc.)

cs89 on April 23, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Overheard in Max Baucus’ office:

“Well, I don’t think I can do any more damage to this country than I already have. So I’m OUTTA here! Layta, Suckuz!”

Doug Piranha on April 23, 2013 at 8:26 PM

No, I’d argue that was Evan Bayh (waffled, voted for it, quickly announced his “retirement,” now criticizes medical device tax etc.)

cs89 on April 23, 2013 at 4:10 PM

And there was also Ben Nelson.

Othniel on April 23, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Democrats (20)

Max Baucus (D-MT) – Cory Stapleton, hard working B-teamer, would have beaten Baucus. Don’t know about Schweitzer. Marc Racicot could still enter and would be a Tossup vs. Schweitzer.

Mark Begich (D-AK) – Miller in (meh.) Parnell or Treadwell could still enter and would probably win.

Christopher Coons (D-DE) – Didn’t even know he was up this year…

Richard Durbin (D-IL) –

Al Franken (D-MN) – Everybody bailed, so probably a generic Some Dude.

Kay Hagan (D-NC) – Ellmers, Tillis, and Berger all considering. Probably no decisions until June.

Tom Harkin (D-IA) – Not running for re-election. Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds said no today. Steve King and Bill Northey could still enter.

Tim Johnson (D-SD) – Mike Rounds in and should win easily vs. Herseth-Sandlin or Brendan Johnson.

John Kerry (D-MA) – Scott Brown bailed, so we have nothing.

Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – Bill Cassidy in and already has a decent warchest.

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) – Nobody will go against Booker… because yielding entirely to their rising star went so well for us in 2004.

Carl Levin (D-MI) – Mike Rogers, Terri Lynn Land, Justin Amash all potential candidates.

Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – No idea.

Mark Pryor (D-AR) – Probably Tom Cotton or Steve Womack. Either would have a good chance.

Jack Reed (D-RI)

John Rockefeller IV (D-WV) – Shelley Moore Capito in and should win easily.

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – Actually heard Scott Brown mentioned here, but otherwise a bunch of no-names.

Mark Udall (D-CO) – Bill Owens, Jane Norton, Cory Gardner possible, though probably not likely.

Tom Udall (D-NM)

Mark Warner (D-VA) – For some reason we’ve decided to give him a complete pass.

Who are the Republican candidates who will run for these Senate seats?

wren on April 23, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Gingotts on April 23, 2013 at 9:20 PM

The bad news is Schweitzer will take his place and the Republicans in Montana have no one that can reasonably be expected to defeat him.

claudius on April 23, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

mmcnamer1 on April 23, 2013 at 10:58 PM

A minimum of Max.

trigon on April 23, 2013 at 11:37 PM

He makes news, first for criticizing the Golden Boy’s signature effluent, and second, for retiring. He probably knew that his Obamacare complaint would be his last.

virgo on April 24, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Who’ll take over as senatorial drunk? What am I tinking, almost anyone of the distinguished colege could fill that bill.

StevC on April 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM

The first Senate casualty of ObamaCare?

Ben Nelson?

cptacek on April 24, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Gingotts on April 23, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Thank you, Gingotts!

Lots of helpful info in your list!

wren on April 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

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