Walsh looking for the exits on Senate race in Montana?

posted at 12:41 pm on August 6, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ever since allegations of plagiarism arose two weeks ago, Sen. John Walsh has made himself scarce — and even scarcer yesterday. The Walsh campaign started “postponing” campaign events without warning, and without explanation:

Sen. John Walsh of Montana on Tuesday postponed at least two upcoming events as his campaign declined to answer questions about whether he planned to remain in the U.S. Senate race amid allegations that he plagiarized a research paper.

The Walsh campaign notified Gallatin County Democratic party members that he would not attend a backyard meet-and-greet in Bozeman hosted by Women for Walsh that was scheduled for Wednesday or a Friday talk on public lands at the county party’s new headquarters.

The campaign did not give a reason why, said Billy McWilliams, a member of the Gallatin County Democrats’ executive committee.

“Nobody’s talking,” McWilliams told The Associated Press. “It happened pretty quick this morning.”

Everyone knows the reason why, but no one wants to admit it … yet. Politico reported last night from unnamed sources that Team Walsh has begun discussions on whether the man who was specifically appointed to fill Max Baucus’ Senate term to get a leg up on the midterms could survive long enough to make the strategy work:

Montana Sen. John Walsh is engaged in internal deliberations with his political team about whether to stay on the ballot this year, sources said Tuesday, in the wake of a plagiarism scandal that has tarnished the appointed Democratic lawmaker’s standing. …

Another Democratic source said Walsh has been resistant to stepping down, and some expect he can weather the political storm by pointing to his long military record. But some top Democrats in the state fear that his remaining a candidate will cost them dearly in down ballot races. They worry that Walsh’s vulnerabilities could hurt, for instance, Democratic House candidate John Lewis, who has a real shot at winning the seat opening up with GOP Rep. Steve Daines running for Senate.

There’s also fear that Republicans could use Walsh’s weakness to pad their majorities in the state House and Senate. A redrawn legislative map has given Democrats some good pick-up opportunities, and the party has fielded candidates in all 100 House districts and all 25 Senate races.

The problem with “pointing to his long military record” is that it now includes the allegations of plagiarism. This was not a youthful indiscretion at a college decades ago, but a paper written for a master’s degree from the Army War College in 2007. The charge is serious enough — and so fraught with political overtones — that the Inspector General for the Department of Defense has announced that the IG’s office will oversee the probe into Walsh’s behavior. An unfavorable outcome, which seems likely from what the New York Times found and published, would almost certainly result in disciplinary action of some sort from the Department of Defense, or at least the AWC. And that will be part of Walsh’s military record, which makes it a flawed shield against attacks from Republicans on his integrity.

Another problem with fighting through the scandal is Walsh himself. He already tried to do that and failed miserably at it in the first few days of the scandal, first using claims of PTSD as a mitigating factor and then disavowing the undiagnosed condition as any excuse. Needless to say, that didn’t impress veterans with or without PTSD, which one might assume would be Walsh’s target demographic for the election. Any strategy for soldiering on in the race has to rely on Walsh’s talent as a campaigner, evidence of which has been in short supply.

Whatever they do, though, they have to do quickly. Walsh has until Monday to withdraw if Democrats are to have a chance to replace him on the ballot. They’d have to make that choice between Monday and August 20th, and they have few candidates from which to choose, all of whom would be a disaster for Democrats:

A few names are being mentioned as potential replacements for the state Democrats to pick from: Nancy Keenan, former national president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock; or John Bohlinger, who got 23 percent against Walsh in the June 3 Democratic primary.

Other names mentioned, but which are not taken seriously by top people, are former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who has lots of baggage and passed on running last year, as well as Dirk Adams, who has a history in banking that Democratic strategists say makes him unelectable.

Schweitzer would have been the obvious choice — until he shot his mouth off about his “gaydar” and told National Journal’s Marin Cogan that Eric Cantor was gay:

(It wasn’t the only time Schweitzer was unable to hold his tongue. Last week, I called him on the night Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in his GOP primary. “Don’t hold this against me, but I’m going to blurt it out. How do I say this … men in the South, they are a little effeminate,” he offered when I mentioned the stunning news. When I asked him what he meant, he added, “They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I’m fine with gay people, that’s all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he’s not, I think, so I don’t know. Again, I couldn’t care less. I’m accepting.”)

So yes, it’s probably too soon for Schweitzer to overcome that, but he looks more viable in Montana than two hard-core pro-abortion activists or a dreaded banker. The easy dismissal of Adams shows how extreme “Democratic strategists” have become, too; how is being a banker more of a deal-killer than heading organizations that demand abortion on demand?

If Walsh gets out, I’d expect to see Schweitzer take his place, despite the “gaydar” comments. He may have baggage, but he’d be the only one on that list who could compete with Daines.

Update: A new poll from Vox Populi shows Daines up 13 over Walsh now, 47/34. Obama gets a 38/62 job approval rating, while Walsh does a little better at 44/56. The math on this poll is a little weird, though: a plurality of 42% say the plagiarism scandal will have no impact on their vote in the Senate race, but 32% say it will make them much less likely to support Walsh and 31% say somewhat less likely, which adds up to … 105%. That doesn’t count the 4% oddball fringe who claim that the plagiarism scandal will make them more likely to vote for Walsh, either.

It also alludes to another scandal involving Walsh:

A report from the Inspector General of the Department of the Army found that while Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard John Walsh improperly used his position for private gain. How does the report affect your likelihood of voting for Senator Walsh?

Interestingly, this one stings Walsh a little more, with only 36% saying it would have no impact on their voting decision, while 34% said it would make them  much less likely to vote for him.

Update: Walsh submitted his paper in 2007, not 2005. I’ve corrected it above, and thanks to Ace for the heads-up.


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Hot kitchen

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Is it too late for the `Rats to replace him on the ballot? Even if it is, they could always pull another Torch maneuver using a judge.

ConstantineXI on August 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

OT, this just in, Sarah Palin claims Africa a Country.

Oh wait, that was Joe Biden, sorry.

Funny, I didn’t see any news updates on this, other than online…

oh well, I’m sure it was an innocent mistake..

hey, speaking of Plagiarizsm….did you hear about Joe Biden
back in 1988??

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:47 PM

DOOM

22044 on August 6, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Whatever they do, though, they have to do quickly. Walsh has until Monday to withdraw if Democrats are to have a chance to replace him on the ballot.

The Fascist-Democrats will just choose the New Jersey option and select someone whenever they feel like it. Laws that set a hard and fast date for being on a ballot do not apply to Fascist-Democrats.

rbj on August 6, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Not to worry residents of Big Sky country!!!

Look who’s waiting in the wings!!

Nancy Keenan, former national president of NARAL.

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

I wonder why this is such a huge deal but that guy in Delaware gets a pass on lying about Vietnam?

Cindy Munford on August 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

I’m his campaign manager! Way to go!

Ned Pepper on August 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Is it too late for the `Rats to replace him on the ballot? Even if it is, they could always pull another Torch maneuver using a judge.

ConstantineXI on August 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

He has until Monday to get out.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

I’m his campaign manager! Way to go!

Ned Pepper on August 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Ned’s busy at the moment….getting the Kitchen Sink ready..

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I wonder why this is such a huge deal but that guy in Delaware gets a pass on lying about Vietnam?

Cindy Munford on August 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Delaware voted for Biden for 36 years. Not much fazes them.

Montana still has some values.

Bitter Clinger on August 6, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Ned’s busy at the moment….getting the Kitchen Sink ready..

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Au contraire! Ned is waiting for someone else to get the Kitchen Sink ready so that he can steal his work.

Ned can’t even come up with ‘UN-original’ ideas like throwing the kitchen sink at something or someone on his own.

Resist We Much on August 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM

I don’t think Ned knows what a Kitchen Sink is. But his Mom probably does.

22044 on August 6, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Democrats will nominate Baby Killer Queen Nancy in September.

BroncosRock on August 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM

PTSD is a serious affair that has driven soldiers to suicide, and this jackwad uses it as a defense of a plagiarized research paper.

Did you know that Romney once put a dog in a crate on the roof of his car?

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM

It’s already too late for Walsh to get out, in all probability the dems are scotched.

Resist We Much on August 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM

ZAP! Well said, RWM.

dogsoldier on August 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

The math on this poll is a little weird, though: a plurality of 42% say the plagiarism scandal will have no impact on their vote in the Senate race, but 32% say it will make them much less likely to support Walsh and 31% say somewhat less likely, which adds up to … 105%. That doesn’t count the 4% oddball fringe who claim that the plagiarism scandal will make them more likely to vote for Walsh, either.

There are those who have already decided not to vote for Walsh. Thus, the scandal would have no effect on how they are going to vote.

Same as back in 2008 when asked if the country was going in the wrong direction. Many people probably said “yes” knowing Barack Obama was going to be elected. Not because of the previous administration.

Mitoch55 on August 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Ned’s busy at the moment….getting the Kitchen Sink ready..

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Au contraire! Ned is waiting for someone else to get the Kitchen Sink ready so that he can steal his work.

Ned can’t even come up with ‘UN-original’ ideas like throwing the kitchen sink at something or someone on his own.

Resist We Much on August 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Heh. Good one RWM. Is Ned the one who gets talking points
from Russia Today?

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Walsh is a low life who’s been cheating his entire life apparently and now it caught up with him.

That PTSD claim makes me sick, but what other dems are different?

They are all sickening.

dogsoldier on August 6, 2014 at 1:13 PM

The libs will commence a new front if Walsh stays in, something along the lines of “How DARE you impugn a brave soldier suffering from the effects of the Bush’s wars!”

-Yeah but…remember when you ridiculed McCain for not being able to raise his torture-damaged arms above his shoulders?

“Whatever. McCain killed Vietnamese babies!”

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

He will probably withdraw, because Democrats always fall in line. I hope they replace him with a NARAL candidate. That will go over like a fart in church with Montana voters.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Bohlinger would be their best choice. He’s an exceedingly likable person and I’d be surprised if he has any skeletons in his closet. (He’d still probably lose.) Lewis (the current House nominee) would be another logical choice. As would Denise Juneau (currently the statewide elected superintendent of public instruction), but she had declined to run for this senate seat when she earlier had the chance.

acasilaco on August 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Ned Pepper is a plagiarist.

What’s his take on this?

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 1:41 PM

ConstantineXI on August 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Dude, read the frickin’ story and you wouldn’t have to ask stupid questions.

cozmo on August 6, 2014 at 1:45 PM

The Republicans have done a pretty good job nominating strong candidates this cycle. It doesn’t matter who the Dems put up against Daines if Walsh ends up dropping out. Daines will win.

GOPRanknFile on August 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Any strategy for soldiering on in the race has to rely on Walsh’s talent as a campaigner, evidence of which has been in short supply.

Walsh soldiering on. I see what you did there!

I consider the plagerism more Army War College’s problem than Walsh’s. How did it happen when virtually all academic work is run through software designed to pick up on plagarism.

That being said, Walsh became unfit for office when he tried to pass it off as the effects of PTSD. Disgusting.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

ToddPA on August 6, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Nice post, Todd.

cptacek on August 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM

David Burge @iowahawkblog · 1m
Ha! Typical stupid corrupt Republican! MT @TPM Sen. Walsh (R-MT) cancels events, may drop out of Senate race after plagiarism scandal

cptacek on August 6, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Au contraire! Ned is waiting for someone else to get the Kitchen Sink ready so that he can steal his work.

Ned can’t even come up with ‘UN-original’ ideas like throwing the kitchen sink at something or someone on his own.

Resist We Much on August 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM

He’s reading Kos to get the juiciest pastes to copy.

Either that, or he goes by the moniker of there of (ahem) MinistryofTruth.

Buck Farky on August 6, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Sooooo…. are War College papers and transcripts public?

Just wondering why we can get this cheater’s school records but not the cheater in the White House?

Perspicacious on August 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

John Walsh filed electronically for the U.S. Senate race Saturday at Plumbers and Pipefitters 41 – his father’s union hall. Walsh, a Butte native, was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock to fill former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus’ seat. Baucus left the position to become an ambassador to China.

very deep rabbit hole

Hipshot on August 6, 2014 at 5:06 PM

The Missoulian is still printing support for Walsh letters to the editor, as if this plagiarism thing never happened. They also print letters from vets who are appalled. Hard to say what would happen on election day. Walsh does seem to be acting a little cowardly for not going to Bozeman. As far as Schweitzer is concerned, he’s still popular in the state and has great name recognition, but then, the good citizens would vote for him just because he made national news as presidential or VP possibility.

Kissmygrits on August 6, 2014 at 5:12 PM

It would be sweet if he got out and nobody got in to replace him. We had no republicans running for county sheriff and one other county wide office because the dems own Missoula so the Rs knew it would be a waste of time to run. The Ds even had a purity test for the 3 men who did run for sheriff. This is just one example of what we have to put up with.

Kissmygrits on August 6, 2014 at 5:19 PM

36% of these amoral morons say that using a public position for personal gain would have “no impact” on their voting for this guy.And we wonder why America is going the way of every other great civilization?

redware on August 6, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I can’t wait to vote against Walsh in November.

conservative hispanic on August 6, 2014 at 10:02 PM