As we move fully into the mid-term election season, we’re still focusing on the Senate races fairly often since the GOP has a rare chance to pick up a number of seats and take back the majority. An unexpected opportunity may be in the offing out in Montana, as we’ve discussed before, since Senator Max Baucus is expected to shortly be departing for a new job as Ambassador to China. The DSCC seems to have settled on their own hand picked replacement in the person of Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, and many are speculating that Governor Bullock will move quickly to put him in as interim Senator, giving him the advantage of incumbency in both the June primary and the general election.
Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday he expects to move quickly to appoint an interim U.S. senator once Sen. Max Baucus is confirmed as ambassador to China and resigns his seat.
As he has for weeks, Bullock refused to answer hypothetical questions about the appointment until Baucus is confirmed and resigns his Senate seat.
However, for the first time publicly, Bullock expressed his desire to move swiftly to fill the Senate appointment once it’s vacant.
“I also recognize that we only have three members representing us in D.C., so it’s important that we have the voices and strong voices and voices there immediately, so I certainly wouldn’t want to protract it or drag it out,” he told reporters about the Senate appointment.
Bullock may be having second thoughts if he was really planning to appoint Walsh though, and the Democrats might have moved a bit quicker than they’d like. Since the news broke, observers have been noticing that there are more than a few odd things going on with the Lt. Governor, starting with the rather unusual launch of his Senate campaign.
Hilltop Public Solutions has been hired to run Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh’s campaign for U.S. Senate. This comes just weeks after Montana Democratic U.S. House candidate John Lewis announced that his campaign ship would have Hilltop at the helm.
Walsh announced his candidacy last Thursday via a YouTube video that is now the main feature on his campaign website. The news broke that Hilltop was running the campaign when Hilltop strangely stated that Walsh was not available to talk to reporters on the day he launched his campaign.
“Walsh, through his campaign consultant, refused to make himself available to reporters for an interview,” wrote Lee Newspapers state reporter Mike Dennison in the original version of a story announcing Walsh’s bid. “The consultant, Hilltop Public Solutions, would not explain why Walsh wouldn’t talk directly to the media.”
This had some locals wondering if Walsh even wants to be a Senator in the first place. Who announces a campaign for a US Senate seat and doesn’t take questions or give interviews at the launch? Well… maybe somebody who has some other concerns to address in the background. As John Fund reported, Walsh is facing ethics charges over some of his previous official dealings.
If Walsh is appointed it will be in spite of serious ethical charges lodged against him when he was head of the Montana National Guard. A 2010 U.S. Army inspector general’s report found that Walsh had improperly used his position for personal gain. It also said he had improperly used government resources and improperly used a non-federal entity.
But Walsh kept his job and was never disciplined because his boss at the time, then–Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer deep-sixed the inspector general’s findings.
There were more stories beyond the ethics complaints, including the allegation that Walsh had gone on his Facebook page and “liked” a picture of female breasts … “accidentally.” The account was later scrubbed and the “like” disappeared. Of course, the real scandal here isn’t that he liked the photo. (Who doesn’t like that?) But why scrub it? Take a position and stick with it, even if it involves full figured women.
The pressure may be getting to the prospective candidate and it seemed to come to a head during the Democrats’ Yellowstone Dinner candidate forum. The main problem with the event was that Walsh failed to show up, prompting the campaign manager for one of his primary opponents to take to Twitter about it.
Huge crowd at Yellowstone Dems' dinner. John Walsh's conspicuous absence – though he's in Billings today – is big topic. #MTsen #MTpol
— Bob Brigham (@BobBrigham) January 22, 2014
Walsh blowing off the Dem dinner in state's largest town is latest in string of rookie mistakes. Not ready for prime time… #MTpol #MTsen
— Bob Brigham (@BobBrigham) January 22, 2014
Waldo er… I mean Walsh-O? You’d think someone preparing to enter the upper chamber and campaign for a full term there would be anxious to get out and press the flesh with the public. He’s got an appearance scheduled for this week, on January 29th, in Washington, DC. Will he show up? I’m guessing there will be some interested parties on hand to see.