Democratic Sen. John Walsh suspended his campaign for a full Senate term on Thursday, bowing to pressure to back out of the race after a plagiarism scandal threatened to eliminate his already slim chance of victory in Montana.
In a statement to Lee Newspapers, Walsh said he wanted to focus on finishing his term as a senator.
“It is time for us all to return to the real issues of this election,” he said.
Walsh, the military veteran appointed to replace Sen. Max Baucus in February, was running against Republican Rep. Steve Daines in the Montana race. The state’s Democrats now must scramble to find a replacement candidate in the next two weeks, an unenviable task just three months before Election Day in a race many already expected Republicans to win.
The news comes amidst heavy rumors that Walsh has been mulling his political future this week. Local news outlets reported that Walsh had canceled a series of public events, including a Tuesday night fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyo. — an indication that he is ready to end his campaign.
Originally, staffers were told they would receive a call or email Tuesday night with news about Walsh’s decision, a senior Walsh aide told National Journal. Later Tuesday night, they were told the decision would instead be announced to staff on Wednesday morning. Walsh announced the decision on a call with staffers, the senior aide said, adding that Walsh’s wife Janet was “openly sobbing” as she thanked members of the campaign.
Editorial boards across the state called for his departure from the race over the weekend. The Missoulian said Walsh needs to “bow out of the Senate race immediately”; the Billings Gazette wrote that Walsh should “stop campaigning and do his utmost to serve Montanans well” for the remainder of his Senate term.
A New York Times report in late July found that Walsh had plagiarized large portions of his masters thesis at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. Walsh initially apologized for his actions, with both the candidate and the campaign claiming his plagiarism was a result of post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.
Walsh later reversed those statements, saying PTSD was not at fault: “I am in no way — no way — tying what I did to any type of PTSD,” Walsh told a local radio station.”It had nothing to do with the mistake that I made.”
According to the Helena Independent Record, a nearly 200-delegate committee will convene to pick the new nominee, a group comprising party leaders from across Montana. They have until Aug. 20 to do so.
Possible candidates to replace Walsh on the Democratic ticket include former NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan; EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock; John Bohlinger, the former lieutenant governor who lost to Walsh in the Democratic primary; and rancher Dirk Adams, who also ran in the primary.
There will also be pressure on former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who turned down a chance to run last year, to reconsider in the wake of Walsh’s decision.
The man who finished a distant second to Walsh in the Democratic primary, Bohlinger, told National Journal he would be open to accepting the nomination.
“If they consider me a viable candidate, I would run with the provision that the Democratic Party provide sufficient money for a credible campaign as well as staff and volunteers around the state,” he said.
He made clear, however, that he would not seek support for the nomination if the state party committee decided to pick another nominee.
Democrats worried not just about the negative impact of the Walsh allegations on his own race, but the ripple effect he could have on down-ballot races in the state — in particular, on the state’s at-large congressional race, where Democrat John Lewis remains competitive.Possible candidates to replace Walsh on the Democratic ticket include former NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, John Bohlinger, the former lieutenant governor who lost to Walsh in the Democratic primary or rancher Dirk Adams, who also ran in the primary. There will also be pressure on former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who turned down a chance to run last year, to reconsider in the wake of Walsh’s decision.Possible candidates to replace Walsh on the Democratic ticket include former NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, John Bohlinger, the former lieutenant governor who lost to Walsh in the Democratic primary or rancher Dirk Adams, who also ran in the primary.There will also be pressure on former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who turned down a chance to run last year, to reconsider in the wake of Walsh’s decisio
What We're Following See More »
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former nationals security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking members Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents request are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes are not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.
It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.
"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."