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Walsh Replacements Come Out of the Woodworks

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In the wake of an announcement that Senator John Walsh will withdraw his 2014 election bid, a host of Democrats have stepped up to the plate to take his spots.

A few of the names floating around: former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, former president of NARAL Pro-choice America Nancy Keenan and State Sen. Dave Wanzenreid.

Former Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger and Wilsall-native Dirk Adams, who both ran against Walsh in the June primary election, have also expressed interest.

Schweitzer politely shut down any intrigue via Twitter, saying, "I respectfully decline to seek the Senate nomination. Many thanks to John Walsh & I'll support whoever the next nominee turns out to be."

Other candidates, including Bohlinger and Wanzenreid, both said they would take on Republican opponent Steve Daines, if the committee selects them.

"I will make myself available based on the input I've received and encouragement to succeed him," Wanzenreid said following Walsh's announcement. "Whomever the replacement is, is going to be face with essentially a 2 1/2 month sprint to raise and money and get to know as many around the state as possible and convince them that the Democrats have a better candidate to offer than the Republicans have."

Bohlinger says he would run again under certain stipulations.

"With the provision that the Democratic party provide sufficient money to run a credible campaign, as well as a workforce of volunteers from all over the state to promote the candidacy in the communities around the state," Bohlinger said.

Missoula Representative Ellie Boldman Smith, who will sit on the committee that selects Walsh's replacement, says there are a lot of names on the list and she would like to see a candidate with a strong pro-women's health record, adding Montana hasn't had a female senator since Jeanette Rankin served in 1916, and again in 1940.

"We had a phone call within a few hours of the Senator making the announcement, and next week we will have a nominating convention who will vote on who's next," Smith said. "There's a lot of names on the list. I know it is someone who can take on Steve Daines this November and I hope we'll fill Senator Max Baucus' shoes with a Democrat."

She expects the selection process to take about a week.

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