Another Top Dem Shuns U.S. Senate Run in Montana

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — Another top potential Democratic candidate on Tuesday rejected a run for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat, further whittling down the potential field.

Insurance commissioner Monica Lindeen said Tuesday that she won’t be running for the office being vacated by the pending retirement of U.S. Max Baucus, which is creating the first open race for a Senate seat in Montana since the 1970s.

Democrats are scrambling to find a candidate after former Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced Saturday that he would not run and had no interest in serving in the Senate.

Lindeen said she wasn’t willing to leave Montana, should she win, and prefers to stay in her current job. She was re-elected just last year to the post that regulates insurance and securities.

“My family has been incredibly supportive and they were willing to make this sacrifice again. But in the end I wasn’t willing to make this sacrifice,” Lindeen said.

She noted that senators must spend most of each week in Washington, D.C., while returning home for long weekends where a great deal of constituent work is required.

“It definitely has to do with living in Washington, D.C., rather than being here in Montana,” Lindeen said. “You really have to appreciate the sacrifice that Max Baucus has made for 40 years.”

Lindeen has twice won statewide elected office and was considered a top option for Democrats.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau has said she is considering a run. Lt. Gov. John Walsh has not ruled it out.

Some Democrats are hoping that Stephanie Schriock, president of the Washington, D.C.-based group Emily’s List that helps elect women, will return to Montana and bring her fundraising prowess to the race. She did not return a call seeking comment.

Some Democrats were also advancing the name of Baucus’ state director, John Lewis, as a potential candidate.

Many Republicans believe that U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will run for the Senate seat.

Two Republicans, state Rep. Champ Edmunds and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, have announced bids but have so far garnered little party support for the race.

If Daines chooses to run for the Senate, it would also open up the House race for any of the notable Republicans or Democrats who pass on the Senate race.

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