Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer Will Not Run For Senate
When Max Baucaus announced that he would not run for re-election in 2014, many people expected that popular former Governor Brian Schweitzer would step into the race, a move that would give Democrats a very good chance of holding on to a Senate seat in a state that has been turning more red over recently years. Today, though, Schweitzer announced that he would not be running:
Popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he will not run for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014.
The Democrat tells The Associated Press on Saturday he doesn’t want to leave Montana and go to Washington, D.C.
Schweitzer says he felt compelled to consider the race because many in his party said they needed him to run.
He was considered the best chance Democrats have to hold onto the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus next year.
Schweitzer says recent criticism over politically active nonprofits connected to him had no bearing on the decision.
The governor was recently elected board chairman of Stillwater Mining Co., Montana’s largest publicly trading company, and says he is enjoying his life.
While Schweitzer staying out of the race doesn’t foreclose the possibility of Democrats holding the seat, it does tend to make it more difficult for them and makes the odds that a Republican will be able to pick up a seat more likely. Other states where many observers believe the GOP has a good shot at flipping a state are South Dakota, where there is an open seat due to the impending retirement of Tim Johnson, Arkansas, where Mark Pryor is running for re-election, and Louisiana where Mary Landrieu is doing the same. If the GOP picked up all four of those seats, the balance of power in the Senate would be even at 50-50. Democrats would win a vote for control in such a Senate due to Vice President Biden’s tie breaking vote, but it would be a narrow majority to say the least, especially given that Senators like Joe Manchin have been known to cross the aisle on occasion. To win control, the GOP would need to pick up at least one more seat.1 At the moment, the most likely candidate there appears to be North Carolina. Senator Kay Hagen has maintained a narrow lead in polling in the Tarheel State, but she’s clearly vulnerable. (There has not been significant polling in South Dakota, Arkansas, or Louisiana.)
Update: I neglected to mention another state that the GOP likely need to pick up, West Virginia, which has an open seat in 2014 thanks to Jay Rockefeller retiring. Right now, Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito is seen as a likely winner there.
1 The GOP would also, of course, need to hold on to all of their seats up for re-election next year. Right now, though, there do not appear to be any vulnerable Republican Senators.