Montana Democrats pick new Senate candidate sans election

You may recall the rather strange political journey of Montana Senator John Walsh, which has had more than its fair share of ups and downs over the past year. Walsh was the Lt. Governor of the Big Sky State last year when the news came out that Max Baucus would be stepping down to become President Obama’s next ambassador to China. Rather than waiting around for a pesky election, the Governor decided to appoint Walsh as Senator, giving him a leg up on the competition for the 2014 elections. That worked out well for Walsh, including a win in the June primary – until the unfortunate news of his rather liberal, ahem… borrowing of other people’s work for a paper at the U.S. Army War College came to light. He then exited the general election race, stage Left, leaving the Democrats with no nominee to face Republican Steve Daines.

Now they needed to find somebody’s name to put on the ballot, and today was the big day. Sean Sullivan explains how it works.

Members of the party’s State Central Committee will gather Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds. The meeting, which is open to the press, starts at 9 a.m local time, 11 a.m. ET. State party executive director Andrea Marcoccio estimates that between 130 and 140 committee members will show up. Once the meeting starts, delegates will proceed to officially submitting candidate names. Those candidates will have a chance to address the entire committee. Then, the committee members vote. The winning candidate must receive a majority of votes cast to secure the nomination. If there are more than two candidates and no one gets a majority, the candidate receiving the least number of votes will be eliminated and another round of voting will begin.

I’m sure it’s just me, but the party’s State Central Committee just sounds kind of creepy… unless you’re reading about something in Russia, I suppose.

The early frontrunners were expected to be rancher Dirk Adams and state Rep. Amanda Curtis. (Or at least Adams and Curtis seemed to think so, as they were actively campaigning to get the nod.) The one thing they seemed to share in common was that nobody outside of their home counties could pick them out of a lineup. The Democrats had hoped to tempt former governor Brian Schweitzer into running, but apparently the fight didn’t look appetizing to him.

So how did it go? One of the locals, Christine Heggem, was keeping track of the events and reported that Amanda Curtis took it over Adams in the first round, 82 to 46, of 128 total votes cast. (Also, confirmation comes in from Great Falls.) So does Curtis stand much of a chance against Daines? Nothing is ever a sure bet this year, but if I were Steve, I’d be feeling pretty good about now.

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