Baucus stuns state with retirement announcement

2013-04-23T23:45:00Z 2013-05-14T20:24:32Z Baucus stuns state with retirement announcementBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., confirmed this morning that he won’t be running for re-election in 2014, bringing to an end a 40-year career in Congress, including the last 36 years in the U.S. Senate.

Baucus told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau Tuesday that he agonized for the past several months over whether to run for a seventh term in the Senate before finally deciding a few days ago to not run again.

“I often rely on Scripture,” the Democratic senator said in an interview. “Ecclesiastes says there is a time and place for everything.”

Baucus, 71, said he spent a great deal of time wrestling about whether to run again, talking with his wife, Mel, and with his son, Zeno, before making the decision a few days ago.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision,” Baucus said. “This is the most difficult decision I’ve faced.”

Baucus’s decision pulls the plug on a 2014 campaign that had already geared up and had raised $5 million as of March 31.

“I wanted to keep my options,” he said. “I wanted to put a campaign together. It comes to a point where you have to make a decision.”

The announcement creates another open seat for Democrats trying to hold to the majority in the U.S. Senate. Recent polls had shown Baucus with a relatively low approval rating, but he did not yet have a well-known opponent.

Two Republicans already have announced that they’re running for Baucus’ seat: former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings and state Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula.

Baucus’s exit no doubt opens up the field to other prospective candidates, Democratic and Republican.

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, often mentioned as a possible challenger to Baucus in the Democratic primary, said this morning that he’s not ruling out the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate. However, he said he’s focused now on his fight to help seize control of the Stillwater Mine, which employs 1,700 people in south-central Montana.

“I’ve been focusing solely on saving 1,700 jobs over there at the mine in Nye,” he said.

Baucus also has been a stalwart for the Democratic Party in Montana, often deploying staffers to work on down-ticket races and using his fundraising skills to direct money to the party and Democratic candidates.

Baucus said the death of his mother, Jean Baucus, in December 2011 caused him to think more about his own future.

“I just don’t want to die with my boots on,” Baucus said. “I’m a Montanan. I’m coming home to Montana. It’s my home.”

He said will be moving to Bozeman where he and his wife are having a house built.

“It’s not a retirement decision,” he said. “I will (still) be working very hard for Montana.”

Baucus was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 after serving in the U.S. House from the western district for four years and two years in the Montana House of Representatives.

“For 40 years, I’ve had the greatest privilege of my life representing Montana,” he said. “There isn’t anyone luckier than I am.”

Not having to campaign for the next 18 months frees him up to work on issues that are important to him, Baucus said.

“This almost gives me more time, more focus, more energy to focus on what I care about for the state and nation,” he said.

These issues include the addressing rising national debt, reforming a “dysfunctional” federal tax code and protecting the outdoors, he said.

Baucus said he wants to get a bill passed to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, a new farm bill and highway bill that make “good sense for Montana.”

He said he wants to work on more trade agreements, which will help create more jobs in Montana and nationally.

Baucus said he also wants to make sure the health care exchanges in the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, of which he was a major author, are implemented.

He said he also wants to focus on his economic development summit in Butte this fall. He has these events every three years and invites top officials of major corporations to participate.

“I want it to be the best yet,” he said. “I think Montana’s on the cusp of becoming a strong state (economically).”

As for his legacy, Baucus said that’s up to the people to decide.

“I want people to know how grateful I am to serve Montana,” he said. “I want to people to know here’s a guy who’s honest, he’s straight forward, he did his best and also I’d like people to believe this: each of us when we leave this place, we need to leave it in a better place than we’ve found it.”

Baucus said he’d like to be remembered as “a guy who always did what he thought was right.”

He said he’s especially proud of what he was able to do for the people in Libby, where asbestos from W.R. Grace’s vermiculate mine was found to have inflicted scores of people with fatal lung disease. Baucus said he worked hard to make sure Libby people “got justice after what W.R. Grace did to them.”

Baucus said he believes the Affordable Care Act “is going to be well-appreciated down the road.”

He recalled how as a young congressman, he was visiting with then Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana.

“I asked Mike Mansfield if you do what’s right, the people will appreciate it,” he said. “Mike said, ‘Yep, but sometimes it takes a long time.’ ”

Copyright 2016 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(33) Comments

  1. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - May 01, 2013 4:12 pm
    Looks like we agree on something, both parties appear to ignore the constitution. Interesting. So,hmm, sell American to the highest bidder? Is that why we're more in debt with China and other countries since Obama came on board? First time ever in history we lost our AAA rating? No longer taking the lead in world affairs? Oh wait, I forgot. Its Bushs fault.
  2. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - May 01, 2013 2:18 pm
    Hello again catspaw,

    Does this mean we may have come to some form of agreement? My thoughts would be that the support for background checks would have been about 50/50. Our senators vote was split. And yes I agree, Max did some good things.

    Don't get used to this kind of behavior from me......
  3. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 30, 2013 4:00 pm
    Uuuhhh, I believe that Skooter (Democrat) held Max (Dem also) accountable as suggested in my earlier post. Did you even read it, Dietz? Do you actually believe that anyone buys the " I vote for either a republican or democrat based on this and have always voted for Baucus...." pitch here when one only has to click on your nameplate and see that you do nothing blame Obama and Dems all around, even when your own party cant show leadership or keep the caucuses in line. That is a tough sale here.

    While my only recent example of holding Dems accountable is also in the previous post, one only has to click on my nameplate and see that I give "responsible Republicans" (not your beloved Bush or Neo-Tea Party variety's, both which failed America miserably), some words of approval, specifically regarding the Legislature and finally using common sense.

    Heck, Dietz, I dont even try to claim to be "...for either a republican or democrat ..." as you try and have anyone believe. I can give credit where credit is due, regardless of stripes on the sleeve.
  4. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 30, 2013 3:49 pm
    Republicans - Think we'll just ignore the constitution to suit our needs to either sell America to the highest bidder for profit or hide behind it as part of a dead poets society.

    Either way, thanks for not answering my previous post.
  5. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 30, 2013 3:44 pm
    Bidnessman,

    Hello, you are correct, anyone could have skewed the results back into the other direction, interestingly enough that nobody did to make a point.

    I am sure that you can find many against the background checks as I can (and did) find both righties and lefties that were for them. Like I said in my original post. Not that I am particularly happy or sad to see Max go. He did some good things.
  6. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 30, 2013 3:42 pm
    Dietz,

    Interestingly enough, I would not comment on a biased and flawed poll, whether or not it fit my point of view is irrelevant.
  7. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - April 30, 2013 8:44 am
    Hey there again catspaw,

    To be honest, I have only followed that poll rather than vote it and "skew" it so to speak. Could that also show that one person (i.e. you) move the needle the other way to show results you wanted and failed?

    I must agree with dietz that a far larger percent of people I have discussed this with were against extending background checks. It wasn't even close my friend. One of my extremely liberal friends also came forward and mentioned that the bill failed due to the way it was written and what was added to the bill for "pork".

    I feel Max represented Montana as well as he could have on this vote.
  8. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - April 29, 2013 4:15 pm
    Which democrats hold other democrats accountable catspaw? The extremely far left liberal democrat whos answer to everything is create ever more restrictive laws? As I have told skooter, I vote for who I think represents the majority of my views and can do the job. I vote for either a republican or democrat based on this and have always voted for Baucus, he's done a great job supporting the military in my opinion. Only accountability you or I can do is to write to our congressman which (if you ever have) will only answer sympathetically but will they ever really take action? Yea right, only if the media has got it on the big screen. Past that, its at vote time. Its really all about the media and lobbyists ($$ and power). Or do you really think the politicians are really concerned about the voters?

    When do you hold democrats accountable? All they ever say is its Bushs fault or republicans fault even when they hold the power in Congress. No accountablity, no leadership at all.
  9. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - April 29, 2013 4:03 pm
    Democrats - think we'll revamp/disregard the consititution to suit our needs for more governmental control legalizing a dictatorship style government.
  10. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - April 29, 2013 12:05 pm
    Interestingly enough, would you point that out if the poll supported your opinion? I doubt it.

    You should read about how they do polls in general, an "automated" dialing process then the percentage is based off 1000 calls. So how many of the thousand phone calls are democrats vs republicans (such as a 50/50 split) or an age catagory such as in the 20s/30s/40s/50s age? Thinking does tend to change based on a persons age/experience. How many were actual gun owners or people effected by gun violence?

    No one I know was for extending background checks as written, most all have agreed a background check would not have stopped the last 2 tragedies. Neither person had a criminal background so background check would have done nothing. Current and proposed background checks don't require disclosure of mental health issues. How would that work with doctor/patient confidentially laws? There are a lot of people that are seen for depression. What then, disclose that and prevent depressed people from having guns?
  11. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - April 29, 2013 11:12 am
    I think Joohn Morrison could win, if he runs.
  12. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 27, 2013 9:43 am
    What?

    Steeline, look at the Repubs in Montana. Held a majority in Legislature. Half of the caucus virtualy seceeded and joined the Dems to vote for common sense. Where is the leadership in the GOP? Certainly failed the party and tried to set the table for failiing MT by deliberately selecting the short end of the stick. Luckily Montana came out ahead with Steve Bullocks leadership and common sense.

    Seems like there is a civil war brewing in the GOP between the terrible leadership of the fringe right and their minions versus the reank and file "responsible Repubilcans" who value Montanans and not morally bankrupt principles of the Tea Party.
  13. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 27, 2013 9:35 am

    I believe Skooter and others are holding our elected leaders accontable to represent them in the best interests of this country.. From my count many do it on the Dems side, including Skooters aforementioned comments regarding dissapointment about Baucus's vote,

    My question to you is this, why do Dems hold Baucus accontable to this vote, while Republican cheerleaders such as yourself NEVER hold Repiblicans accontable for anything, except being a victim of the evil socialist empire?
  14. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 27, 2013 9:29 am
    Bidnessman,

    The reason the IR "polls" show differently is that one can vote everytime you get on the website regarding the question of the week. The gun control topic is an excellent example.

    On Friday (4/19) the poll results were 25% in favor of no gun control and 75% in favor of the proposed gun law. Later that afternoon, th vote read 70% in favor of no gun control and 30% in favor. Roughly a 50% swing in one direction within one afternoon? Completely unheard of in any poll. One person (i.e. you) can get online 40 times a day and vote enough to skew the results in the poll, so lets not get too excited about a junion high type poll where you can vote as many times as you want.
  15. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - April 26, 2013 4:09 pm
    Hey there catspaw,

    It seem you do have a sense of humor, just not a very good one....
  16. The Big L
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    The Big L - April 25, 2013 8:58 am
    He wasn't going to lose because of his gun vote(s). He was doomed from the Health Care bill.
  17. turner
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    turner - April 24, 2013 9:51 pm
    "American ideas"? Rehberg, Racicot and Schweitzer aren't Americans? Thought that was just the guy from Kenya?
  18. catspaw
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    catspaw - April 24, 2013 6:58 pm
    Not that I am particularly happy or sad to see Max go. He did some good things.

    Does anyone actually think that someone else besides Schweitzer will run and win??


    Hill - Think sales tax
    Racicot - Think deregulation
    Rehberg - Think nothing
    Denny Light - Think Daines

    Republicans - Think Not
  19. Slewfoot
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    Slewfoot - April 24, 2013 6:53 pm
    Boy, the vultures are out in force! Kind of makes me ask how did he keep the position for 40 years is he was so terrible? Must of been doing something right or are we as Montanans collectively stupid? Were his opponents really, really bad? Isn't because of his party as Montana is a red state. Must be it. We are just dumbasses!
  20. BJ
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    BJ - April 24, 2013 4:50 pm
    Given Max's recent concerns with the implementation of the new health care reform (Obamacare), I would expect there is a large number of Montanans that are not overly pleased with Max. The part that is most disappointing is that Max was one of the architects and lead salesman of this legislation. That said, if Max is waving the yellow caution flag about Obamacare, I would think it needs to be revisited. It's unfortunate our leaders, and I use that term loosely, in Washington convinced us that we should vote to approve (even though no one had read it in it's entirety) and figure it out as its implemented, thank you Nancy Pelosi..... As for Marc Racicot running......... I sincerely doubt he would have a chance. Last time I saw Marc was at a Carroll basketball game. Marc was introduced at half time and the crowd was noticeably quiet, hardly any applause. As with many Montanans, they were probably fed up with Marc along with his cronies like Bob Gannon, who destroyed the savings and retirement of many hardworking Montanans in the demise of Montana Power. While some MP retirees are back to work at minimum wage jobs, Bob Gannon is roughing it in his $3M home on Flathead Lake. I'm surprised Bob hasn't been run out of town.

    I agree, Montana needs representatives in Washington with a fresh perspective. Not someone that votes the party so they can morph into a career politician and be rewarded with committee appointments for their party loyalty.

    Bye Max, your departure from that cesspool called Washington DC is overdue.
  21. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - April 24, 2013 3:52 pm
    Gee skooter, I must be part of the "uniformed mob" that you speak of. I think he voted that issue the correct way. To be honest, I think his "train wreck" comment about the ACA may be what brought this to a head.
  22. Bidnessman
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    Bidnessman - April 24, 2013 3:45 pm
    I must disagree with you Alex about the "mentally ill minority" comment. Though it is an extremely localized and shallow poll, the IR's poll shows differently.
  23. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - April 24, 2013 3:15 pm
    You mean like special interest minority groups that have controlled the democrats for years? I find it interesting how democrats are always talking about they vote/make laws based on majority but in this case now all of a sudden they voted based on the minority?

    The only mentally ill are those thinking increasing background checks and banning weapons is going to stop another Sandy Hook. The kid stole the weapons he used, everyone seems to forget that. The AR-15 was in fact banned in that state back in 1993. No one seems to remember that either. No background check or weapon ban would have stopped him.
  24. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - April 24, 2013 3:11 pm
    My how quickly the democrats turn on their own. As I recall, you were very supportive of Max when he voted for Obamacare.
  25. Alex Dunn
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    Alex Dunn - April 24, 2013 1:53 pm
    Surprising? No. Shameful? Yep. Transparent also comes to mind. Pander to the vocal, mentally ill minority that opposes background checks then turn around and quit when that move proves the wrong one. I hope the volume of calls you got last week from sane folks telling you that you lost their vote led to your decision. Listen to your constituents after but not before a big vote? Hmm, clearly your slipping. May the door hit you on the way out max.
  26. skooter
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    skooter - April 24, 2013 9:10 am
    Best news I have heard in years...one of the fattest cats in the senate who did so little for his state, party and country. Only Denny & Conrad were worse. He weakened and derailed HCR, voted with the uninformed mob for sensible gun controls to pander...

    Frankly I am smelling a new mini-scandal behind this decision (not that I have heard anything)...too quick, and different from talk just a month ago. Just guessing.
  27. steeline
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    steeline - April 24, 2013 7:43 am
    I hope none Rehberg, Racicot or Schweitzer get involved we need fresh new American ideas in Congress.
  28. steeline
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    steeline - April 23, 2013 4:05 pm
    Max is a smart man. He knows when to throw in the towel so to speak. He will get a very nice retirement check from US. The Obama crowd has pretty much killed the good Democrats chance of getting re-elected. The Pelosi's, Reids, Schumers and of course Joe "blast em
    " Bidden types will continue to destroy the Democrat party and the country. Good luck Max.
  29. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - April 23, 2013 4:04 pm
    Now we REAL liberals don't have to primary him over his gun control vote. Buh-bye, Max.
  30. JMWB
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    JMWB - April 23, 2013 3:48 pm
    Glad to see Max Baucus retire. This next election could get interesting: Dennis Rehberg, Marc Racicot, Brian Schweitzer and several others may run for that Senate seat.
  31. JLight
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    JLight - April 23, 2013 3:00 pm
    Finally...something positive happening in Washington, DC. This is a good day for Montana.
  32. kplatts
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    kplatts - April 23, 2013 1:04 pm
    I am glad to see Senator Baucus has finally decided to do the right thing and retire. Funny that he talks about the great privledge of serving the State of Montana, when in fact, he has used this position for his own advancement, both in status and financially.

    It is time for the people of Montana to take back their state. A left leaning senator is not representative of the people of Montana, our values, or our beliefs. Instead, find someone who really believes as the the majority of Montanans believe. We work hard, take care of our families and don't expect government handouts. We need to find and elect a candidate who values what we value and not what is in their own self interest.
  33. Baalzevuv
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    Baalzevuv - April 23, 2013 12:17 pm
    Now he can lobby for the NRA.

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