After reading the various letters from the editors of our local newspapers it is fairly obvious that the editors have missed the point regarding the appointment of Lt. Governor John Walsh to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Max Baucus.
Yes, of course, Gov. Steve Bullock has the obligation and responsibility to appoint a replacement to fill the Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Baucus. Did he make the right choice, could there have been another more qualified than Walsh, could he have had more input? Maybe. The question is not whether Walsh was the right choice to fill the seat, but that this was a back-room deal by those pulling the strings in order to have an incumbent in place for the November election.
The guess is that when Baucus made it clear that he would not run for re-election and that his Senate seat would become a vacant seat, pressure was probably brought to bear on Baucus to resign rather than finishing his term. And by chance a position of ambassador to China opened up, so a plan was orchestrated to temporarily fill that position with Baucus. Baucus is an honorable man and is qualified to be the ambassador, but does anyone really believe that Baucus, after over 39 odd years in Congress and at 73 years of age, wanted this position far from his beloved Montana?
Here is the point that the editors are missing, by Baucus resigning to become the ambassador to China rather than completing his term in office the decision of who should represent Montana in the November election was eliminated. It’s not that those in the party hierarchy didn’t have input into the process, it’s that the voters didn’t have a say and were disenfranchised from the process.
Let’s be clear, if a Republican was the governor of Montana the same chicanery may have taken place as well, doesn’t make it right. In fact, this entire episode erodes our confidence in elected officials and the process.
Bullock made the decision that he thought was best for Montana, the political leadership filled the seat vacated by Baucus, but the voters of Montana were excluded from the process. The voters, those Montana families, who believe in our system of government to be fair and open have been disenfranchised. Where is their voice?
The prediction is that Senator, now Ambassador Baucus, soon after the November election will resign his post for what will appear as a valid reason – family, health, etc.
No matter what happens in the November election the process will leave a sour taste in our mouth, and also tarnish somewhat the legacy a fine man, Sen. Max Baucus.
Rick Laible, former state senator
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