HELENA — Former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger said Tuesday that he would only seek one term if he decides to run for the U.S. Senate.
Bohlinger is considering running for retiring Sen. Max Baucus’ seat as a Democrat, but he has not announced his candidacy. Bohlinger, a former small businessman from Billings, served as a Republican in the Legislature from Billings before joining the ticket of former Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2004.
The 77-year-old Bohlinger said Tuesday that he would only serve one term in the Senate. He said that would allow him to be bold with his decisions and not be forced to worry about raising money or getting re-elected.
Bohlinger said he thinks he has good name recognition across the state, and a good profile as a businessman and Marine veteran. But he is “testing the waters” by continuing to talk to people about how his candidacy would be received.
“Being a one-term senator would make you bold,” Bohlinger said. “You are not looking to build a war chest that would launch you to your next campaign. When you are only going to be there one term, you can do the right thing.”
Bohlinger said he could pursue polices to give incentives to corporations to bring jobs back into the country. And he likes the idea of “Medicaid for all,” an idea where uninsured people would be allowed to buy into the government insurance program for the poor.
Bohlinger said his family historically had allegiances to Democrats.
But he gravitated toward the Republican Party when he was in business and was most concerned about fiscal restraint.
Since then, though, he said the GOP has moved too far to the right.
“The Republican Party has been invaded by the Tea Party. They want to defund government. It has been invaded by libertarians who don’t want government,” Bohlinger said.
Several top Democrats — including Schweitzer — have already declined bids.
Other possible Democratic candidates include Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat and current Lt. Gov. John Walsh.