Would Walsh Senate Appointment Backfire on Dems?

Aaron Flint posted on December 19, 2013 15:09 :: 1056 Views

“The point is that this is an election not a coronation,” Schweitzer said. “It’s been a long time since we have had coronations in his country….”

That was former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) referring to Hillary Clinton in Iowa, according to CNN.  But, Schweitzer just as easily could have been referring to what appears may take place in Montana if Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) appoints Democratic US Senate candidate to the seat potentially being vacated early by Max Baucus.  

But could a Walsh appointment backfire on Democrats if seen as simply a “Hail Mary” move to help a candidate who can’t get his campaign off the ground?

MSU Political Science Professor David Parker crunched the numbers for KBZK-TV:

“I mean there’s some talk on Twitter and social media that this is going to be a boon for the Democrats but look at the data. 43 percent of appointed senators since 1956 have won re-election. That’s a far cry from 85 percent received by most incumbent senators,” Parker said.

Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla (R-Great Falls) added this for The Seattle Post Intelligencer:

There are still a few complications that could arise, however. Travis Kavulla, a Republican who is a member of the Montana Public Service Commission, thinks it will be a “double-edged sword” for Walsh if he is appointed. On one hand, he’ll have the higher profile and the machinery of a Senate office and staff, in addition to his campaign operation.

On the other, the move would “trap him in D.C.,” Kavulla said. And once he gets to the Senate, it will be important to watch how he navigates thorny issues that arise from being a Democratic senator in a red state. One example of this is when Baucus was one of four Democrats to vote against a bill expanding background checks on gun purchases earlier this year.

MSU’s David Parker and The University of Montana’s Robert Saldin teamed up on this column for The Washington Post: What Max Baucus’s departure means for the Montana Senate race

Finally, regardless of whether Walsh is appointed or not, Daines enters the campaign with formidable advantages that are unlikely to evaporate. For starters, he’s a sitting congressman. And while that might not mean much in California or New York, Montana only has one congressional district, meaning Rep. Daines’s constituency is exactly the same as a potential Senator Daines’s constituency. In addition to his name recognition, he is popular, having adroitly cultivated credibility with both the Tea Party and moderates alike.  He also has the backing of the national Republican establishment, which will translate into a sizable campaign fund.

Finally, Chuck Johnson with Lee Newspapers looks at the last time this move was attempted by a Montana Governor. It was 1978, as the Democratic Governor tried to appoint his preferred candidate over, guess who, Max Baucus.

Hatfield had never run for a partisan race before and tried to mount a campaign for the June primary election while he was learning how to be a senator.

He also took a highly controversial vote when he cast the final Senate vote necessary to ratify the Panama Canal treaties negotiated by the Carter administration. Critics dubbed him “Panama Paul,” while supporters of the treaties praised his courage.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/looking-back-montana-governors-appointed-senators-in/article_c909121d-1489-540f-8046-95ae021e87db.html#ixzz2nvsJUq7T

Meanwhile, out of left field- could Obama campaign manager Jim Messina be the replacement Senator appointed by Gov. Bullock?  (apparently he’s been getting a lot of calls, per The Washington Post)

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