Baucus Ambassador Appt. Creates Chain Reaction in Senate Make-Up - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Baucus Ambassador Appt. Creates Chain Reaction in Senate Make-Up

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MISSOULA -

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Montana's senior senator to fill one of the nation's most important diplomatic posts.

"Max Baucus is going to be an outstanding ambassador to China and I'd like a swift confirmation," President Obama said.

Baucus' nomination now goes to the full senate for confirmation, which is expected to happen sometime in the new year.

The senator, who has served six terms in the U.S. Senate, said that he is deeply humbled and honored to represent the U.S. in China.

"My career has been dedicated to public service. It is something I care about deeply. It's an honor to be presented with an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Mike Mansfield," said Senator Max Baucus.

Senator Max Baucus' nomination as the next ambassador to China is creating a chain reaction that could greatly affect what is already a hotly-contested race for a senate seat.

Many experts say the winner of this race could help determine which party controls the Senate, and some say if an incumbent is in the race it could give that party the edge. The Democratic caucus currently has 55 seats to the Republicans' 45.

Two people could benefit if Baucus is officially appointed as ambassador to China-- Montana's Lieutenant Governor John Walsh and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, which could give the Democratic party an even bigger advantage heading into the upcoming election.

On leaving the Senate, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is a top pick to fill the seat of Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is a position that Baucus currently holds. He is the committee's third most-senior Democrat. This paves the way for Senator Mary Landrieu to take over the Senate Energy Committee that Wyden currently chairs, which could give her greater influence over energy policy, something that is important for her state of Louisiana where offshore drilling is a major part of the economy.

If Baucus assumes his new role before the end of his term, Montana Governor Democrat Steve Bullock is charged with filling the senate seat, which is already up for grabs in the general election in November of 2014. While Bullock is not commenting on potential appointments, many speculate his former running mate, and current Lieutenant Governor John Walsh may be a top candidate. Some say this would give the Democrat higher visibility against the top Republican candidate, likely, current Congressman Steve Daines.

According to data compiled by Nate Silver, of the 52 senators appointed to fill seats as of 20-12, only 22 were reelected.

Democrats John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams have also announced plans to run for the senate in 2014, as has Republican Champ Edmunds.

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