Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday he told U.S. Senate Majority Harry Reid to butt out when Reid tried to offer his opinion on the governor’s future appointment of a new U.S. senator to replace Sen. Max Baucus.
Bullock told reporters Friday that he received a call from Reid in December before it became public that President Barack Obama would be appointing Sen. Max Baucus as the U.S. ambassador to China. By law, the Montana governor fills any Senate vacancies by appointing a replacement.
“He wanted to weigh in on who I should choose and this was before it was even public,” Bullock said. “And I said it was none of your damn business.”
Bullock was asked if Reid had suggested a name for him to appoint.
The governor told reporters to contact Reid to get his side of the conversation.
In response to another question asking him about the call from Reid, Bullock recounted his end of the conversation:
“I said, ‘You know what. Stay out of my decision-making. This is a decision I make and no one else. This is one of those decisions that voters have entrusted me with.’ ”
The State Bureau placed a call to Reid’s press office and was awaiting a reply.
Bullock on Feb. 7 appointed Lt. Gov. John Walsh as Baucus’ replacement. Walsh already was running for the open Senate seat, and Bullock had endorsed him.
In April, Baucus had surprised the political world by announcing he would not seek a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
Republicans have alleged the Baucus’ appointment as ambassador to China and Walsh’s appointment as senator was part of a “backroom deal” orchestrated by the White House, Reid and Bullock.
“If there was a backroom deal, I certainly was never invited to that back room,” Bullock said Friday.