Senator John Walsh Drops Out Of Montana Senate Race Amid Plagiarism Allegations
Just about a week after we learned that he had plagiarized a significant portion of an academic paper he wrote while at the Army War College, Senator John Walsh has dropped out of the race for Montana’s open Senate seat:
HELENA — Sen. John Walsh said Thursday he is pulling out of the Senate race because his campaign was distracted by the controversy over allegations that he plagiarized a U.S. Army War College research paper.
Walsh, a Democrat, said he decided to drop out of the race. He had canceled campaign events this week as he and his family discussed what he would do.
The New York Times reported July 23 that Walsh had plagiarized large portions of the research paper in 2007.
Walsh will serve out the rest of his Senate term, which ends in early January 2015.
“I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator,” Walsh said in a statement to supporters. “You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.”
The Montana Democratic Party now will choose a replacement for Walsh to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, along with Republican Rep. Steve Daines and Libertarian Roger Roots.
The party has to select a new Senate candidate at a nominating convention by Aug. 20. About 175 delegates, including statewide and federal elected officials, county party committee leaders and the party executive board members, will pick the nominee.
Walsh was driving from Helena to Billings to personally tell his staff of his decision before it was publicly released.
“I am proud that with your support, we held our opponent (Daines) accountable for his hurtful record to privatize Medicare, to deny women the freedom to make their own health decisions and to sell off our public lands,” Walsh said in the statement. “I know how important it is to continue the fight for these Montana values, and it is time for us all to return to the real issues of this election.”
Daines had held a large lead in polls, but Walsh had narrowed the gap in the days before the New York Times story broke.
Editorials in the state’s largest newspapers had called on Walsh to drop out of the race because of the plagiarism.
Walsh, 53, who served 33 years in the Montana National Guard, was named as the state’s adjutant general by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2008.
Replacing Walsh on the ballot is apparently permitted under Montana law provided that the party acts by the time of its convention on August 20th. The question, of course, is who they might be able to find to take on the task of being their candidate in a race where the Republicans are favored. An ideal choice from the perspective of Democratic Party loyalists might be former Governor Brian Schweitzer, who remains very popular in the state. However, Schwetizer had been approached about running for the seat last year when Max Baucus announced his retirement. However, after flirting with the possibility of entering the race for a few months, the former Governor decided not to run in July of last year. Since then, he’s been acting more like someone thinking of mounting a bid for the Presidency in 2016 than a potential Senate candidates, especially with his recent attacks on Hillary Clinton. Whether he could be persuaded to get in the race now is a big unknown, but at this point he’s likely the only candidate the Democrats could select that would have a reasonable shot at winning.
Update: Former Governor Brian Schweitzer has just announced on Twitter that he will not be running:
I respectfully decline to seek the Senate nomination. Many thanks to John Walsh & I'll support whoever the next nominee turns out to be.
— Brian Schweitzer (@brianschweitzer) August 7, 2014
That was probably the Democrats best shot at holding on to this seat.