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July 13, 2013 1:09 PM Surprise announcement: former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer says he won’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2014

By Kathleen Geier

Former Democratic governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer announced today that he won’t run for the state’s open U.S. senate seat, current held by retiring Democrat Max Baucus.

Schweitzer has long been a huge mancrush of certain bro-progressive bloggers ( *cough* Kos *cough*). I’ve been less than impressed; Schweitzer is ardently opposed to even the most mild forms of gun control and his anti-tax, pro-war-on-drug rhetoric and policies are the last thing we need more of in Congress. On top of that, recent stories about his alleged links to “secret money” and rumors of more damaging info to come were causing Montana Democratic officials to have second thoughts about his possible senate candidacy.

Nevertheless, Schweitzer still appeared to be a popular, electable Democrat in his home state, and he would almost certainly have been an improvement over the lamentable Baucus. Without Schweitzer in the race, it looks like it will be harder for Democrats to hold onto Baucus’s seat — and to the Senate as a whole. Earlier this year, Nate Silver acknowledged that in 2014, Democrats will be facing a tough electoral map, but still argued that they were slightly favored to hold on to the Senate. I haven’t been able to find any updated analyses by Silver of this question.

While Schweitzer’s decision to bow out appears to be a blow to Democrats, there may be an upside here. This Politico story identifies three potential Democratic candidates for the senate seat, and all of them are women. That we have only 20 women currently serving in the U.S. Senate in 2013 is a national disgrace. More women senators would be welcome indeed.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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