WASHINGTON -- In a surprise move that deals a serious blow to Democratic chances of holding the Senate, veteran Montana Sen. Max Baucus has decided not to seek reelection next year, Democratic officials said Tuesday.
Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and was expected to be a major player in the coming debate over reforming the nation’s tax system. A Democratic aide said that Baucus’ decision could complicate the tax-overhaul effort and that there might be calls for the lame-duck senator to relinquish his chairmanship before his retirement takes effect.
The Montanan’s decision, first reported by the Washington Post, appeared to take the White House and other Democratic leaders by surprise. Baucus was among four Democrats who opposed last week’s gun control measure, three of whom were facing reelection in 2014
A liberal Democratic group which had already begun an effort to oppose Baucus’s reelection hailed his decision as a victory.
“Good bye, Senator K Street. Max Baucus has a history of voting with corporate interests and not the interests of Montana voters -- taking millions from Wall Street, insurance companies, and lobbyists,” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “Montana will finally have a chance to have a senator with its best interests at heart, and we hope Brian Schweitzer jumps into the race immediately,"