Baucus New Position Impact on Senate Race - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Baucus New Position Impact on Senate Race

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Big news for the Montana political scene, as it is now official that President Obama will nominate Senator Max Baucus to be the next ambassador to China.

Should the U.S. senate confirm Baucus for the ambassador position, it raises two areas of interest.

For one, what is the significance of such a high caliber position for a Montana senator?

And two, what impact could this have on the upcoming Montana U.S. senate race?

"It's extremely important because it's a very prominent appointment," said Dr. Craig Wilson, a professor of political science at MSU Billings.

Ambassador to China is now one of the most important international relationships.

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Mike Mansfield. Mike worked and strengthened and improved America's important relationships throughout Asia, and I'll strive to do the same," said Senator Baucus.

But now an interesting play. Baucus will take the new position with one year still left in his term as senator. Which means Governor Bullock gets to name the replacement to the vacant seat for the next year.

"I think the Montana Democratic Party would like to see Walsh nominated. Now, to some it will look like it's transparent, simply because he's running for the senate office, so he got the nomination," said Wilson.

Should Walsh become the nominee, the question is then raised, will an extra year as senator provide an unfair advantage in the U.S. senate race?

"I think at the end of the day, the reason that polls show this senate seat to most likely to go Republican, has to do with issues. Montanans want to see lower taxes, they want to see more jobs and less regulations on our small businesses. And I don't think using a senate appointment for partisan advantage, is going to change that situation," said Bowen Greenwood, Executive Director of the Montana Republican Party.

Baucus' nomination will soon head to congress to await the confirmation process in the U.S. senate. Meanwhile, it's a little known fact that Baucus has had a long standing fascination with China and has been there eight times.