Senate Democrat Who Called ObamaCare a “Train Wreck” Won’t Seek Another Term

Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who has served in the upper chamber since 1978, announced yesterday that he won’t seek a seventh term in office in the 2014 mid-term election:

Longtime Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, will not seek re-election next year, he said in a statement Tuesday.

“After much consideration and many conversations with my wife Mel and our family, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2014. I will serve out my term, and then it will be time to go home to Montana,” he said.

During the remainder of term, Baucus pledged to fight the nation’s fiscal issues and work for highway and farm bill that will support jobs in his state.

The announcement comes a week after Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee,  told DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the administration’s implementation of ObamaCare, a law he helped write and usher through the Senate, could become a “train wreck.” Republicans have seized on the comments and used them to further criticize the controversial, unpopular law.

Baucus was considered vulnerable in 2014. According to a survey released in February by Public Policy Polling, Baucus could have faced a tough race against a strong Republican candidate. His approval rating with Montana voters was also underwater, at 45/48. An approval rating below 50% is generally considered a red flag for an incumbent.

Complicating his hopes for re-election was a potential primary challenge from former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. According to the same poll, Schweitzer led Baucus 54/35 in a hypothetical primary match-up.

Schweitzer, who left office earlier this year with a 56% approval rating, has said that he is considering a run for the Senate, a prospect that could complicate Republicans’ efforts to take control of the chamber in next year’s mid-term.

Schweitzer faired well in hypothetical pairings with potential Republicans. Schweitzer led Attorney General Tim Fox (49/43), State Rep. Champ Edmunds (52/37), and former State Sen. Corey Stapleton (49/39). However, Schweitzer trailed former Gov. Marc Racicot (46/45) and led U.S. Rep. Steve Daines (48/45), both within the margin of error.

Of the Republicans who were floated by Public Policy Polling as potential challengers, only Edmunds and Stapleton have formally announced their intention to run.

While Montana remains a good pick-up up opportunity for Republicans next year, nothing is guaranteed, after all, they just lost a Senate race there last year. Schweitzer’s candidacy — given his popularity, opposition to gun control, and populist views —- could through a wrench in those plans.

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