The John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams campaigns are naturally pushing hard on Steve Bullock not to appoint John Walsh, the lieutenant Governor, to the US Senate to fill the vacancy left by Max Baucus.
Walsh remains the obvious choice for Bullock, despite protestations from others who want the job. But that’s not to say that that Walsh doesn’t have a real choice to make for himself, should the appointment be offered.
First, he’s giving up a cushy job. Bullock is likely to serve eight years as Governor and thus Walsh has a secure job, at a good salary, and a great boss–presumably for the duration. Had he run for Senate the usual way and lost, Walsh would have been able to keep his job as LG while running and thus have something to fall back on. But if he were to be appointed to the Senate and then had to campaign to keep his Senate job he’d be out of work if he were to lose. The LG seat would be filled quickly and permanently in the event of a vacancy.
Walsh also has to weigh surrendering his valuable outsider’s status. The Senate has its lowest job approval in American history (8%) and Steve Daines, the congressional incumbent who has made a giant ass of himself making common cause with the Tea Party and Ted Cruz, is also very unpopular (37%). These are times to run as a candidate with no connection to Washington DC, something that an incumbent, as hard as he may try, would have great difficulty doing. Plus if Bohlinger stays in the race and continues his attempt to mount a leftward challenge in the primary, Walsh will be damned if he votes with the President and damned if he votes against him.
Overall, however, I would say that Walsh has to take it if its offered. When everything is added up–fundraising power, name recognition, the opportunity to do a few things in the Senate in the few months he’d be there, plus the unspoken thing which is that a former Senator can land on his feet with a nice gig–it makes more sense to accept than to decline, if the offer presents itself.
Remember, too, that Daines had a 15 point edge in a hypothetical matchup against either Walsh or Bohlinger in a poll released last month. That means that the status quo, the presumed route at the time the poll was taken, was not looking very good. An appointment of Walsh to the Senate would shake thing up and probably change those numbers.
John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams would then have to decide whether to stay in the race or go home, or run for something else. This decision would be facilitated partly by information revealed to the public in early December: how much money they’ve raised.
There’s been talk that one or both of them might try to run for the House, where John Lewis, who is raising good money but is unknown, is the only declared candidate. Adams supposedly has personal wealth and Bohlinger has public name brand. A three way race between those two and Lewis, would be interesting to say the least. The good news about that race, however, is that the right wing lunatic Matt Rosendale could actually win the Primary, having picked up a surprising number of endorsements lately from state legislators. Rosendale comes across not like a person who should be in Congress, but rather like a person who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit and be confined to a maximum security prison (or are those kind of the same thing?)