Max Baucus, as noted here, was one of the senate’s biggest proponents of ObamaCare.

But shortly after he called the implementation of ObamaCare a “train wreck” in April, he decided not to seek re-election. (Baucus apparently believes that ObamaCare’s biggest failing is incompetence, not impossibility. I rather think that both are true, especially after reading all the implementation failures the unwieldy legislation has encountered so fare.)

But not all was lost for the Democrats according to the New York Times:

As Mr. Baucus made a push to rewrite the nation’s tax laws as Finance Committee chairman, he also came under scrutiny for the expansive network of former aides who were now sought-after lobbyists on tax legislation.

And in Montana, the former Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer— still a popular and formidable politician — was making unsubtle suggestions that he might want Mr. Baucus’s seat. Expectations among senior Democrats that Mr. Schweitzer was waiting in the wings relieved some of the pressure on keeping Mr. Baucus in the re-election hunt.

“That was just a curious series of events, but I’ve been here for 40 years,” Mr. Baucus said in an interview Tuesday, dismissing any notion that he was pushed toward the exit. “I know the Senate ebbs and flows.”

Please remember that.

Because, Schweitzer has just decided to follow in Baucus’s footsteps. The “formidable” Schweitzer will not try to succeed Baucus. The New York Times reports:

Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, said he understood Mr. Schweitzer’s decision and looked forward to other talented Democrats stepping up.

“Running for the U.S. Senate is a big decision for a potential candidate and their family,” Mr. Tester said. “Just because this year wasn’t the right time for Brian to run doesn’t mean we don’t have great Montana Democrats who are willing to run and capable of winning the seat.”

The list of potential Democratic candidates in Montana includes: Denise Juneau, the state public schools superintendent; Monica Lindeen, Montana’s securities and insurance commissioner; Brian Morris, a Montana Supreme Court justice; Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, the influential political action committee that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights; and State Senator Kendall Van Dyk.

Yes that last paragraph sounds like a press release from the Democratic party! But let’s ask: how many of those “talented” Montana Democrats were mentioned as credible successors to Sen. Baucus in April? (Do I have to answer?) Without Schweitzer running, the chance’s of the Democrats holding Montana just dropped dramatically.

 

NRSC has a release, with lots of relevant information, including:

PPP: Likewise Daines and Racicot would both have substantial leads over the potential Democrats we tested besides Schweitzer- Daines leads Denise Juneau 48/38 and Monica Lindeen 49/37 in hypothetical contests, while Racicot leads Juneau 52/37 and Lindeen 52/35 in head to heads. (Public Policy Polling, Montana Senate looks like a toss up, 6/25/2013)

That’s a very good reason that Juneau and Lindeen weren’t mentioned in April.

The Hill adds:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pounced after the decision, saying it was based on Schweitzer’s recognition that not even he could win in 2014.
“Just two days ago, Senate Democrats were quoted promising Brian Schweitzer tremendous resources to get in the race,” NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in a statement. “We did our homework and there was a lot of rust under Schweitzer’s hood — a LOT of rust.”
The committee had launched an aggressive opposition research campaign targeting Schweitzer as part of the GOP’s efforts to win the seat.
U.S. Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is a top GOP candidate for the seat.

Republicans still have a way to go to retake the Senate, but Schweitzer’s withdrawal makes their effort a bit easier.