HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday he has talked several times with Lt. Gov. John Walsh about running for the U.S. Senate, but has neither encouraged nor discouraged his running mate from entering the race.
Walsh, former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard, has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014 for the seat being vacated by Democratic incumbent Max Baucus.
Asked about the Senate in mid-July, Walsh said, “I have not really thought about it at all.” His office declined to comment further to the Gazette State Bureau this week.
On Friday, Bullock was asked about a possible Walsh Senate candidacy at his weekly press meeting.
“The lieutenant governor is an extremely talented leader and a wonderful individual,” Bullock said. “That’s why I chose him to actually lead government with me, and he’s doing a great job here as lieutenant governor. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there, and that it’s important we have strong leadership in the U.S. Senate representing Montana.”
Asked if he was encouraging Walsh to run, Bullock said he had not.
“We’ve have had some discussions about it, and making sure that he hadn’t really given much thought to it,” Bullock said. “He likes the job that he’s doing and he’s doing a good job at it.”
Bullock said Walsh has played an important role as they negotiated with the Legislature earlier this year. They are also working together on a project to improve effectiveness in government and are meeting with all department directors and staff.
The governor said he’s mostly talked to Walsh about whether he wants to be in the Senate and whether he thinks that’s the best way to serve Montana.
“That’s not encouraging or discouraging, I suppose,” Bullock said in response to a question. “I think anyone, and the lieutenant governor already knows, anybody that runs for office, (knows) it’s an incredible opportunity and service, (although there are) challenges in running. That it takes a big toll on individuals and their families. I think those are all things that ought to be balanced.”
The governor was asked if he had spoken to any other Democrats about running for the Senate.
“I’ve received some calls and given more or less the same advice to individuals,” Bullock said. “If you focus on the issues and you want to work hard, this is achievable.”