Walsh Appointment Impacts Senate Race - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Walsh Appointment Impacts Senate Race

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MISSOULA -

Lt. Governor John Walsh's appointment is only for the rest of Baucus' terms, which ends in November. The spot will be up for grabs in the 2014 election, where voters will choose the next successor.

ABC FOX MONTANA's Ashley Sanchez found out how the announcement is affecting the race for the U.S. Senate.

As Walsh gets ready to pack his bags and head to Washington D.C., many speculate the interim appointment will give democrats a leg up in the race against republicans this November.

"I made this decision on what I think would be in the best interest for the state, and that is why I chose John as our Lieutenant Governor," Governor Steve Bullock said.

Not all Montanans are happy about the Governor's appointment.

"I thought I was the Democrat who could win in November, but others feel differently," said former Lieutenant Governor, and Democratic Senate candidate, John Bolingher.

Bolingher said unless he can get enough support and money to support a campaign by March, he will step put of the race.

"This is no longer an open race. I would be running against an incumbent, and an incumbent has an incredible ability to raise money, which is such a significant factor in who gets elected," Bolingher said.

He said he will give his full support to the elected Democrat.

Another Democratic primary candidate, Dirk Adams said he's not backing down, saying "while Walsh is pressing palms in Washington, I'm going to be talking to Montanans. I've never been handed anything."

Perhaps most affected by Friday's appointment is the Republican Party that will now have to battle an incumbent for what would have otherwise been, an open Senate seat.

Just minutes after Bullocks announcement, Republicans responded with a harsh statement saying, "Governor Bullock has sent Montanans a clear message that he would rather take marching orders from Barack Obama and Harry Reid than listen to the people of Montana."

Republican Congressman Steve Daines, an early frontrunner for the Senate seat, said he looks forward to working with Walsh in Congress, but would not make a comment on how Thursday's announcement will affect his chances in the upcoming race.

Other candidates with their eyes on the Senate seat include Republicans Champ Edmunds and Dave Leaser, and Democrat Melinda Gopher.

As of Sunday, the Lieutenant Governor position will be open. Governor Bullock has not decided who will replace Walsh, but he said he will make a decision quickly. Walsh will need to be confirmed by the Senate. That is expected to happen on Tuesday.

 

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