Montana News

Feb 6, 2014 3:57 PM by MTN News - Helena

Baucus confirmed as next U.S. Ambassador to China

HELENA - U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on Thursday as the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) said in a press release: "His long record of service proves that Montanans don't want a showman. They want someone who will reach across the aisle and find a way to say ‘yes,' even when saying ‘no' is the easier thing to do. I know Max will continue to serve Montana, even he serves our nation overseas."

U.S. Representative Steve Daines (R-MT) issued the following statement: "Congratulations to Senator Max Baucus on his confirmation as the United States' new Ambassador to China. Senator Baucus has dedicated much of his life in service to Montana, and I wish him the best as he continues his service to our nation."

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) released the following statement: "I join all Montanans as we say congratulations and thank you to Max for his service to our state and nation. Max has dedicated his life to serving the people of Montana...I look forward to continuing to work with Max in his new role and am confident that his leadership in China will pay dividends for all Americans for years to come."

In a farewell address to his colleagues in the Senate on Thursday, Baucus said, "Let me begin by thanking the people of Montana for giving me the honor of representing them in the United States Congress for nearly 40 years. And I want to thank President Obama for the opportunity to continue to serve the American people as Ambassador to China."

Baucus continued, "There is nothing greater in life than the love of family and I have been an incredibly lucky man. I'd like to thank my wife, Melodee, my son Zeno, and his wife Stephanie. I'd also like to thank our children Katie and Joey. Mel, Zeno, Stephanie, Katie and Joey: you inspire me daily and I'm so grateful for each of you."

Governor Bullock is responsible for appointing Baucus' interim replacement in the U.S. Senate; he's endorsed Lt. Gov. John Walsh in his bid for the Senate in the 2014 election, but has not said if he'll appoint him in the interim.

One of Walsh's rivals in the Democratic primary, John Bohlinger, has already said he may drop out of the race if Walsh is appointed, figuring the exposure and fund-raising power of a Senator Walsh could be hard to catch up to. He has suggested a "caretaker" senator who would not run ion November.

Bullock has refused to offer details on whether he has already decided upon Walsh.

Bowen Greenwood, the executive director of the Montana Republican Party, says that just because Bullock can make the decision unilaterally doesn't mean he should.

"Wouldn't it be great if there were a citizens commission to select among eligible Montanans? Or wouldn't it be great if there were some other elected officials from Montana who were invited to offer opinions or take part in the process?," Greenwood said last week. "Whatever the process used it would be nice of the people knew what was coming out of it rather than just some kind of backroom deal where we try to benefit our political candidate."

If Bullock does appoint Walsh, he will have an opportunity to make another appointment -- a new lieutenant governor.