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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Trumwill Mobile says:

    It’s worth nothing that The Democrats In Montana have more statewide elected officials than The Republicans do.

  2. Yes Montana has been somewhat of an anomaly in the Mountain West, but Schweitzer was widely seen as their best bet to hold on to Baucus’s seat. Not saying they won’t just saying it is gonna be harder for them

  3. edmondo says:

    Note to Harry Reid:

    You can forget about going nuclear now. It won’t matter.

    Off Topic:

    Has stonetools said Kaddish for the Democrats’ hopes of keeping the senate yet?

  4. BIll says:

    Montana at the very best was a marginal Republican state. From the time the 17th amendment was adopted in 1913 till Conrad Burns election in 1988, only one Republican had ever been elected to the Senate from MT. The state has had exactly 2 Republican senators since March 1913.

  5. It is worth noting that John “There is a Constitutional right to Postal Service” Tester, won in 2012 with a plurality of the vote, eking out victory because the opposition vote was split between Republican and Libertarian candidates. If the R’s nominate a candidate who has cred with the L’s, they should win handily now that Schweitzer, post governorship, has engaged in questionable activities and decided to cash in big time on his years as the G. If the R’s nominate an establishment type it will be a dog fight.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Are you accounting for the NJ seat which will almost certainly flip back to Dem?