Another top Democrat declines Senate bid

2013-07-30T11:57:00Z 2014-05-30T11:09:22Z Another top Democrat declines Senate bidBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
July 30, 2013 11:57 am  • 

HELENA — Saying the timing isn’t right, Stephanie Schriock, a prominent women’s leader nationally, on Tuesday became the latest Montana Democrat to decline to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Montana next year.

“I would love to say yes, but this is not the right time,” said Schriock, president of Emily’s List, a national group based in Washington, D.C., that helps elect Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

Schriock grew up in Butte and managed U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s first general election campaign in 2006 and later served as his first chief of staff.

“There’s so much work to be done all over the country fighting on behalf of women and standing up against a concerted effort to roll back the clock on our freedoms and opportunities,” she said in a statement. “I will always be committed to the people who taught me that those freedoms are something we must keep fighting to protect. Montana is my home, and I will always want to be part of its future.”

She becomes the third major Democrat to forgo running for the Senate seat held by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who announced in April he is retiring and won’t seek a seventh term in 2014.

Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer surprised Democrats and Republicans alike when he said on July 13 that he wouldn’t run for the Senate and preferred remaining in Montana. Schweitzer said likes to be in charge and believes the Senate has become a place where good ideas die. Schweitzer already had been building a campaign organization.

On July 16, state Auditor Monica Lindeen said she wouldn’t run for the Senate. Lindeen said she wants to focus on the job to which she was re-elected last year as the state’s insurance and securities commissioner.

Among those looking at the Senate is state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. She said at the Montana Democratic convention that she needed to talk to family and friends before making a decision whether to go for the Senate.

The name of Lt. Gov. John Walsh, the former adjutant general and commander of the Montana National Guard, has been circulating as a potential Senate candidate. Walsh teamed up with current Gov. Steve Bullock when they ran for the state’s top two offices last year.

Asked about the Senate earlier this month, Walsh said, “I have not really thought about it at all.”

Former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, a former Republican legislator from Billings, has said he is thinking about running as a Democrat for the Senate.

Last week, Bohlinger said, “I have concluded no one is better qualified than me.” He cited his service in the U.S. Marines, his career as a successful small businessman in Billings, his state House and Senate experience and his eight years as lieutenant governor under Schweitzer.

Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat, a former Democratic state senator, earlier called the possibility of running for the Senate “intriguing” but hasn’t said whether he might be interested in running.

Shane Colton, a Billings attorney and former member of the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, has said he’s thinking about whether to run as a Democrat for the Senate.

Meanwhile, a number of Montana Republicans are hoping that freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will jump into the Senate race.

Daines has said his focus is on serving Montanans and doing the job they sent him to do. He’s said he will continue to give the decision on whether to run for the Senate the deliberation it deserves.

Two Republicans with state legislative experience already have announced for the U.S. Senate, but are expected to drop down to the vacant U.S. House race if Daines runs for the Senate.

They are state Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings.

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