HELENA – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced Tuesday that he won’t run for re-election in 2014, ending a 40-year career in Congress, including the last 36 years in the U.S. Senate.

Baucus said he agonized for several months over whether to run for a seventh term in the Senate before finally deciding a few days ago not to run again.

“I often rely on Scripture,” the Democratic senator said in an interview. “Ecclesiastes says there is a time and place for everything.”

Baucus, 71, said he spent a great deal of time wrestling with whether to run again, talking with his wife, Mel, and with his son, Zeno, before making the decision.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision,” Baucus said. “This is the most difficult decision I’ve faced.”

Baucus’ decision pulls the plug on a 2014 campaign that had already geared up and had raised $5 million as of March 31.

“I wanted to keep my options,” he said. “I wanted to put a campaign together. It comes to a point where you have to make a decision.”

The announcement creates another open seat for Democrats trying to hold a majority in the U.S. Senate. Recent polls had shown Baucus with a relatively low approval rating, but he did not yet have a well-known opponent.

Two Republicans have announced that they’re running for Baucus’ seat: former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings and state Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula.

Baucus’ exit no doubt opens the field to other prospective candidates, Democratic and Republican.

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, often mentioned as a possible challenger to Baucus in the Democratic primary, said Tuesday morning that he’s not ruling out the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate. However, he said he’s focused now on his fight to help seize control of the Stillwater Mine, which employs 1,700 people in south-central Montana.

“I’ve been focusing solely on saving 1,700 jobs over there at the mine in Nye,” he said.

Baucus also has been a stalwart for the Democratic Party in Montana, often deploying staffers to work on down-ticket races and using his fundraising skills to direct money to the party and Democratic candidates.

Baucus said the death of his mother, Jean Baucus, in December 2011 caused him to think more about his own future.

“I just don’t want to die with my boots on,” Baucus said. “I’m a Montanan. I’m coming home to Montana. It’s my home.”

He will be moving to Bozeman, where he and his wife are having a house built.

“It’s not a retirement decision,” he said. “I will (still) be working very hard for Montana.”

***

Baucus was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 after serving in the U.S. House from the western district for four years and two years in the Montana House of Representatives.

“For 40 years, I’ve had the greatest privilege of my life representing Montana,” he said. “There isn’t anyone luckier than I am.”

Not having to campaign for the next 18 months frees him up to work on issues that are important to him, Baucus said.

“This almost gives me more time, more focus, more energy to focus on what I care about for the state and nation,” he said.

Those issues include addressing the rising national debt, reforming a “dysfunctional” federal tax code and protecting the outdoors, he said.

Baucus said he wants to get a bill passed to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, a new farm bill and highway bill that make “good sense for Montana.”

He said he wants to work on more trade agreements, which will help create more jobs in Montana and nationally.

Baucus said he also wants to make sure the health care exchanges in the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, of which he was a major author, are implemented.

And he wants to focus on his economic development summit in Butte this fall. He has the events every three years and invites top officials of major corporations to participate.

“I want it to be the best yet,” he said. “I think Montana’s on the cusp of becoming a strong state (economically).”

As for his legacy, Baucus said that’s up to the people to decide.

“I want people to know how grateful I am to serve Montana,” he said. “I want people to know here’s a guy who’s honest, he’s straightforward, he did his best and also I’d like people to believe this: Each of us when we leave this place, we need to leave it in a better place than we’ve found it.”

Baucus said he’d like to be remembered as “a guy who always did what he thought was right.”

He said he’s especially proud of what he was able to do for the people in Libby, where asbestos from W.R. Grace’s vermiculite mine inflicted scores of people with fatal lung diseases. Baucus said he worked hard to make sure Libby people “got justice after what W.R. Grace did to them.”

Baucus said he believes the Affordable Care Act “is going to be well-appreciated down the road.”

He recalled how as a young congressman, he was visiting with then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana.

“I asked Mike Mansfield if you do what’s right, the people will appreciate it,” he said. “Mike said, ‘Yep, but sometimes it takes a long time.’ ”

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or by email at chuck.johnson@lee.net.

More from missoulian.com

(58) comments

Mazola
Mazola

I'd say for the last 10-years Max has been out of touch with reality. He became "radicalized" by the DC beltway agendas. Combine that with his age, and I'm not sure he knows where he is at any given moment, unless one of his assistants informs him.

Later Max

RPT
RPT

Max is the best example I can think of why all elected or appointed government officials and judges should have term limits like the President.
I think they all start out with the best of intentions ...But time,money and power seems to corrupt the best of them... And the longer their there the worse it gets.
I met Max back when he was running for his first election as Senator and he was walking the neighborhoods of Missoula handing out pamphlets door to door and talking one on one to the people about his positions on the different issues back then.
I voted for him back then... But after a couple terms his focus seemed to change and since Obama showed up Max seems to have totally lost all focus and values.
Can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.. It’s WAY past time for real CHANGE in Washington.

Springfield
Springfield

bye bye max

oldie
oldie

He's not gone yet! Be careful people, don't celebrate too soon. Didn't you hear the last thing Baucus was on about? He wants to tax the Internet! Yes, I'm not kidding. He could still do terrible damage yet before he goes Yeah Baucus wants to tax internet sales. If the USA Inc. can tax the Internet, they can soon control it entirely And then, What? What happens when they can tax the Internet? I wish Max would do us all a favor and just fall off a bar stool or something.

gomer13
gomer13

Everybody wants to cry about Max neglecting Montanan's wants when it comes to the gun control bill. But the truth of the matter is that his office received 16,000-18,000 comments about the bill. 2,000 of them supported it. 14,000-16,000 opposed it. Obviously, he did the right thing. If only he would have listened to his constituency about the largest crime and travesty ever perpetrated on the American by its government, Obamacare.
Its laughable that antigun people arent more educated. Internet sales across state lines already require a BGC and that the firearm be shipped to an FFL.. Most vendors at gun shows also have FFL's, therefore a BGC is done. Last year the current BGC system worked to stop approximately 44,000 felones from purchasing weapons. Even trying to do this is another felony. 44 were convicted. Perhaps the current administration should just focus on enforcing all the violater of the current system. According to Joe Biden we don't have the manpower for that. Then how in the heck are we supposed to have the manpower to effectively expand it? Hint: If you wanted something complex accomplished, would you pick an old man that was already not the smartest, and extremely narrow minded before he got alzheimer's, to lead the charge? Probably not. So why would rambling, cenile, double barreled Joe be a good choice to head up something so complex.

Springfield
Springfield

This is good news.

RPT
RPT

Max is the best example I can think of why all elected or appointed government officials and judges should have term limits like the President.
I think they all start out with the best of intentions ...But time,money and power seems to corrupt the best of them... And the longer their there the worse it gets.
I met Max back when he was running for his first election as Senator and he was walking the neighborhoods of Missoula handing out pamphlets door to door and talking one on one to the people about his positions on the different issues back then.
I voted for him back then... But after a couple terms his focus seemed to change and since Obama showed up Max seems to have totally lost all focus and values.
Can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.. It’s WAY past time for real CHANGE in Washington.

American Plutocracy
American Plutocracy

Thank goodness. It's unfortunate he didn't leave more than a decade ago.

As more coverage has been given to Baucus' questionable political, ethical, and moral record is it any surprise he'll not try again? I have no doubt that he'll make sure a high paying lobbyist position or 'consulting' job awaits him but members of his family who he enriched, over the years, at the expense of others.

Thanks Max for not even allowing a conversation about single-payer health care be heard (even though most Montanans were for such legislation and, given how 'poor' the state is - could have really benefitted from a more sane application of health care.

Thanks as well for voting down background checks - not because of your constituency (most of whom are for those measures as responsible gun owners - myself included) but because of big business.

Right/left/center it is disgusting how often you voted - not your conscience but to align with big business, special interests, and to build political favor with both sides of the aisle. That's not called leadership - that's called selling out to corporate america and for that reason alone I am glad to see you go. I could disagree with you ideologically - fine. But, to witness how often you made decisions in your own interest was, and remains, staggering. Adios.

Mike_A
Mike_A

This time, let's elect a real Democrat!

gomer13
gomer13

Yeah!! Lets get one that wants to tax anybody who has a dime into poverty, and make the poor even poorer, so they are dependant and keep voting for them!! Lets get one who is okay with killing babies after they're born if the mother chooses that!! Lets get a real democrat.

walter12
walter12

It is a tough job being a stooge and a flunky for Obama as our Senator Tester is. Maybe Baucus could not look himself in the mirror anymore, while attempting to be a part-time toadie for Obama. Maybe, Baucus saw the writing on the wall, being a pawn and minion for Obama is stomach churning.

dsrobins
dsrobins

Bravo! Hooray! At last Max has maxxed out. Brian Schweitzer will make a superb Senator to replace him. Clearly, Max saw the handwriting on the wall after his craven gun control vote and his Obamacare remarks. We're glad Max is over.

Kuato
Kuato

It is high time Montana had a real conservative voice in Washington, no more gun grabbing Democraps. Just watch and see how our new liberal, left wing ,tax and spend Governor puts the state on Montana in debt.

frazzle
frazzle

10 to 1 he goes to work for amgen.

old farmer
old farmer

I've never been a supporter of Max. His last vote against a very bad gun control bill and his remark about the Obama train wreck, made me think he may have seen the errors of his way. I'm the same age as Max, and it is a good age to retire.

frenchy
frenchy

I figured he was going to do this last week when he voted for the U. N. gun bill. He knew with that vote he would have a hard time getting re-elected. I suppose he will only get worse at violating his oath to the Constitution in his remaining days in the senate.

Tracker
Tracker

You figured that last week? You might want to double-check on how he voted.

Run - A- Mook
Run - A- Mook

he voted for the U.N. gun c7%p.
he vote against the senate bill.

Been There
Been There

It's time. Max did a pretty good job representing Montana years ago, but not now. I personally was offended by his vote on gun control (or lack thereof). I have been around guns since I was 5--loved to shoot skeet and have never felt a threat to my second amendment rights to go and nail those clay pigeons. Obama Care, the sequester--the list goes on and on where he had an opportunity to make positive changes. I hope his retirement agrees with him. I am glad he is going.

Kuato
Kuato

Their going to spend 24 million to confiscate guns in California (SB- 140) maybe you would be happiest there. I know I sure would be happy if all the ex-California liberal left wingers went back to the state they destroyed. Been their done that, now go back . The greatest gift the founding fathers ever gave Americans was their freedom and liberty.

Roger
Roger

So all you care about is whether you can continue skeet shooting? What about all the other gun owners who are not into skeet shooting? You still don't understand the gun-grabbers and the danger they present to freedom. The Second Amendment is not only about skeet shooting.

libertarian
libertarian

Max would have been re-elected because he brings the money back to Montana and the Republicans always run a goofy candidate against Max.

AARGH
AARGH

excellent point... just like Rehberg thinking he had enough to beat Tester.
one of the smartest comments on this thread!

Libertyman
Libertyman

Thanks for long and faithful service, Senator Baucus. The only "train wreck" was "Obamacare",. You have voted in most times for Montana, and not along party lines. Which is the admirable way. People who vote among "party lines" are just parrots. Demo's and Repub's together has the last 15 years taken America down a road very un-American. On the path of stat-ism, trickle down poverty, entitlements and special treatment to everybody but the hard working tax paying American. Montana needs to find it's roots, while keep a balance between creating jobs, commerce while keeping Montana's nature clean for current and future generations.

Readneck
Readneck

The Republicans lose another Senate seat!

dave ajou
dave ajou

Keen analysis. How do you lose what you don't have ?

Readneck
Readneck

He appears to be a mole for the health insurance corporations, gun manufacturers and Republican tax and war policies.
Check his votes!

AARGH
AARGH

Only during an election

Kuato
Kuato

The rats always jump ship before the ship goes down.

misticms
misticms

He was pretty good way back when he was first elected, BUT the last 20+ yrs he has been an embarrassment. He definitely will not be missed, as he only did what he wanted to do, and that was not to represent the people of Montana. Too bad he didn't do this alot sooner! TA TA Bye Bye - don't let the door handle hit ya in the arse.

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

Well I see the right wing nuts of the Potter Party are out in force this morning...good riddance to Max. Voting against common sense background checks at gun shows and the internet lost him progressives like myself. The issue is, since you idiots on the right could not get Tester out of office and the Repube legislature has to manipulate the ballot so all you extremists don't kill yourselves off in elections, who have you got that is going to beat Brian??:" NO ONE!!!! Maybe Racicot? Wonder if he wants to get back in to politics after making massive money as a lobbyist...that background would go over well in a Senate campaign. No, you flame throwers have plenty of cute comments but really no solutions other than stay out of our lives and let us own a Sherman tank if we want. Ridiculous people with no solutions. Potter Party slaves. Caught up in their rhetoric and no facts. Hoping for Schweitzer to make a run...he would probably win...meanwhile make sure you nut cases get to the gun show this summer at UM and stock up on your automatic weapons and 100 round clips...you will need them when the government comes for your guns...right??? Sorry to tell you this but the government has nuclear weapons and more tanks and stealth bombers than your 100 round clips can handle. Good riddance Max but you Potter Party clones on the right should not be dancing in the streets yet....you really do not have a majority in this state convinced you have good brain cell function...fortunately...Go Schweitzer!!!!!

Hakon Montag
Hakon Montag

AMEN! Go team Schweitzer!

Good ole Brian is more PRO GUN than Max ever was...

So who exactly is the idiot here...

dave ajou
dave ajou

Feeling better now ? Time for some warm milk, dry toast and a long nap. There you go.

AARGH
AARGH

Nobody Gets your "Potter Party" comment.. and besides, it's a rather dumb analogy. You speak of Racicot making money as a lobbyist, yet you fail to look at the largest recipient of Lobbyist funds... John Tester. Most people on these comment threads just laugh at how inane your rants are. We actually like them though, because it shows the true colors of the far left fallacy that things are better the way they are.

gomer13
gomer13

Brian Schweitzer said just the other day his view on gun control is...'you control your's, I'll control mine.' That is a direct quote from the last few weeks.
The pathetic amount of manpower it took to hunt down some scrawny teenage muslim proves that the government would actually be in a tough situation if there was an armed resistance of any size.
People like YOU are the reason that we can't pass bills like the background checks. The reason is, because ultra liberal statist that get a twinkle in their eye thinking about a police state, such as yourself, have already made it more than clear that you do not intend to stop there. If this inneffective background check bill was honestly about protecting children and keeping weapons out of the hands of bad guys everybody would suport it. But its not. It is only about getting one step closer to the ultimate goal of yours, which is door to door confiscation. I've had enough with the "Nobody is coming for your guns" Thats complete BS!!! Feinstein has already said that is her goal. Obama has said he doesn't believe individuals have the right to own hand guns. Confiscation has already began in New York.
I realize its all utopian fairies and unicorns when you're smoking your ganja by the river you love to talk about. But in the real world your gun control ideas won't work. The only truthful thing President Obama has ever said, was when he stated that Chicago is a model for gun control With over 500 murders last year, he is correct. That is what happens when there is gun control.
I'm sure you will be just thrilled when the left leaning Republican Baucus is gone, and Schweitzer who is nearly as far right as the Tea Party steps in. The guy is literally too right leaning to win a republican primary in many states. You sir, need to lay off the dope.

AARGH
AARGH

It is amazing how only a couple of people mentioned Schweitzer. I think it's obvious Max is moving aside to one of the most popular Governors Montana has had. However, it could also be that Max is finally seeing the writing on the wall, where his flip flopping has caught up with him. Good Riddance!

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

Max has been looking scarred and unbalanced.......he has chosen the coward's way out as he does not want to take responsibility for his pathetic voting record.

Here is the list of retiring senators. Notice MOST are DEMorats:


Max Baucus, D-Mont., 71, 6 terms
Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., 69, 2 terms
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, 73, 5 terms
Mike Johanns, R-Neb., 62, 1 term
Tim Johnson, D-S.D., 66, 3 terms
Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., 89, 5 terms
Carl Levin, D-Mich., 78, 6 terms
Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., 75, 5 terms

Aberdeen
Aberdeen

So let my get this right: you're equating the Party to the reason to get out? One of the Dems is 89 years old, another (Tim Johnson) had a serious stroke, the other Dems are in their 70's: looks like the Repubs are bailing in their 60s?
As a sixty-something, I can assure you that living the DC politician lifestyle doesn't suit me or most folks I know: time to enjoy health, family and life in your home State if it's Montana, NJ, GA or anywhere else in the US.

Dick Summers
Dick Summers

Jeez nutter, look at their ages.

Kuato
Kuato

Their is a statement in all these senior citizen senators retiring ,too bad Americans don't have enough street smarts to know what this means.

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

“I often rely on scripture,” the Democratic senator said in an interview. “Ecclesiastes says there is a time and place for everything.”

This one seems appropriate Max....

Luke 16:18 - Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery.

Bones
Bones

Mmm...excellent nonsense to aid with the evening digestion...

JLight
JLight

See ya! Now it's time to undo some of the damage he's caused.

Rcreeker
Rcreeker

What he should of done 36yrs ago

miner
miner

Good riddance!

DreamMontana
DreamMontana

Out to pasture. Poor cows.

COMMON SENSE
COMMON SENSE

Interesting question: Is he retiring or is he being retired?

Run - A- Mook
Run - A- Mook

Goooooooood by Max.

ford
ford

left leaning independant here.... this is great news!!! another corporatist career politition out of office!!! this guy was terrible for the state and the country. although i dont have much hope for a sucessor......well you have to start somewhere. enjoy your pension on us Max. good times

DonaldM
DonaldM

Smart move. With max's support of the fraudulent Omama-Care program I thought he couldn't be re-elected. He had to lie so much and so often in his support thereof. Though, the left would still support him because they understand the necessity of lying to support leftist programs.

Max's recent opposition of Obama's gun control efforts offended the left, his main area of support, though might have helped him with real Montanans.

His more recent remarks to Sebelius about Obama-Care being a pending "train wreck", the most honest and insightful comment I recall ever hearing from Max, would have offended the Admin. with a probable threat of not supporting him, and offended Montana leftists as well.

So, I support Max's decision to retire and congratulate him on closing out with an honest, insightful, and candid appraisal of the greatest fraud ever perpetrated upon the American people by its Govt.

Bones
Bones

But then, if you read his original comment, he was clearly discussing the roll-out of the insurance exchanges and nothing else. It's always good to hear what you want to hear, though.

GaryTinkSanders
GaryTinkSanders

He broke with the President on more than just gun control he also broke with the president and "himself" on Obama care, Max can't even support himself considering he was one of the biggest contributors to the Presidents brainchild "Obamacare". This is damage control for the "TRAIN WRECK".

DoItRight
DoItRight

Brian Schweitzer!

Time to announce!

Run - A- Mook
Run - A- Mook

Better yet, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. or maybe Daffy. Oh
that's Brian in his real live.

archangel
archangel

Maybe we can replace him with a Democrat.

ford
ford

i love this comment!!! lol

Cats Life
Cats Life

Hello, Senator Schweitzer!

Bass Whacker
Bass Whacker

Replace a bonehead with a blowhard?

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