It looks like Montana’s very own long-time senator, democrat Max Baucus, will potentially be representing the Big Sky in an even bigger way. In a surprise announcement last month, President Obama made it clear that he will nominate Sen. Baucus as the United State’s next ambassador to China. Although Baucus initially made no comment on the impending nomination, his office had this to say: “It’s natural that Max would be under consideration given his breadth of experience and depth of knowledge necessary for this important position.”
Baucus’ track record certainly reflects this statement. Baucus is the third longest serving current United States senator and is Montana’s longest serving senator. Before his first position in the Senate in 1978, Baucus served in the Unites States House of Representatives. Recently, Baucus has held the extremely influential position as chairman as the Senate Committee on Finance. From this position, he had much influence over the reform of healthcare in the United States, and was one of the primary architects of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to this position, he is also the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, and serves on various other senate committees. Regardless of how you view Baucus’s politics, it is evident that he has brought many years of experience and influence straight from Montana to Washington. Now he has the opportunity to bring that same experience across the world to delegate with a fellow super-power. What does this mean for Montana and its citizens?
Montana already has excellent trade ties with nations in the far east. We have already established tried and true relationships with nations such as South Korea and Japan in the beef market. Having an extremely influential and experienced Montanan as the United State’s direct link to China can only help Montana’s clout on an international scale.
[pullquote align=”right”]Having an extremely influential and experienced Montanan as the United State’s direct link to China can only help Montana’s clout on an international scale.[/pullquote]
Baucus’ long run in the Senate has meant the Democrat party has had a long grip on Montana’s representation. Baucus had actually announced his retirement from the Senate only a few months ago, arguably a relief for many Montanans. A candidate from another party could finally have a solid opportunity to wrest control of that Senate seat from the Democrats at the end of Baucus’ term in 2015. Now, however, the situation has changed. Under Montana law, our governor, Steve Bullock, can appoint a replacement if Baucus accepts his appointment before his term is up.
If Governor Bullock chooses a fellow Democrat to replace Baucus, it will once again give the Democrat party an electoral advantage and challenge other candidates to knock out an incumbent, which is no easy feat. Current Representative Steve Daines is the strongest possibility for a contender against the Democrat candidate. The most likely Democraticcandidate to replace Baucus will be Lt. Governor John Walsh, former Adjutant General for Montana.
The situation here is ultimately a case of give-and-take. If another Democrat candidate continues to hold an influential Senate seat, Montanans could remain in a stagnation of representation, without any fresh viewpoints to help their interests on a national level. If Montanans are lucky, however, they could end up with excellent representation abroad and in Washington.