Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 22, 2014

Ratings Change: Montana Senate

walsh062 072314 445x302 Ratings Change: Montana Senate

John Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Roll Call was preparing to post my column yesterday on the Montana Senate race and recent Democratic polls showing the contest “closing,” a report surfaced in the New York Times about appointed Senator John Walsh’s plagiarism in his master’s thesis.

The Walsh story is a huge one and undoubtedly affects the Democrat’s already uphill bid.

Walsh, who didn’t dispute the heavily documented charge, said “I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD” before going on to suggest that post-traumatic stress disorder may have been a factor.

The defense is likely to only raise other questions about his Senate bid, keeping him on the defensive.

“John Walsh is a decorated war hero, and it’s disgusting that Steve Daines and Washington Republicans are going to try denigrate John’s distinguished service after multiple polls show him gaining,” a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman  said in a ridiculously obvious effort to create a new narrative following the news.

In fact, it was members of the local and national media who pounced on the story, recognizing how serious it would be to Walsh’s reputation and campaign effort.

The Democrat already was an underdog against Republican Rep. Steve Daines, and the new controversy, following an earlier one about an Army Inspector General’s report that found Walsh behaved improperly about a different matter, is a potentially fatal blow to Walsh’s candidacy.

As my colleague Nathan Gonzales wrote recently, imperfect candidates can overcome mistakes in “friendly” states. But Montana is not particularly friendly to Democrats, and multiple mistakes are more difficult to overcome. 

This plagiarism news is likely to limit Walsh’s ability to woo additional voters between now and November, and it probably makes it less likely that national Democratic groups will invest in his candidacy.

Because of that, we are moving this race from Tossup/Tilts Republican to Leans Republican.

  • papacito9999

    Good call. Makes no sense for Dems to defend Walsh at this point. They’re better off cutting their losses and moving onto other races.

  • teapartyidiots

    I’d just leave this one on the table….forget this, WV, and SD. Concentrate your efforts on LA, AK, and AR where you have strong incumbents with a real chance to hang on.

    • Charles Wolf

      I’d add GA and KY to your list where there is an opportunity to flip 2 seats.
      I also appears to me that the Rs are not gaining in LA, AK, and AR and those states will probably not flip.

      • teapartyidiots

        I think she has a legit shot in KY. GA will be hard UNLESS the African American vote comes out in force. I think the Dems have a better shot at governor in GA.

        • Charles Wolf

          I over agree on the GA Gov race. Deal is toast.
          sickening campaign Chambliss ran to get his seat and he retired bc he knows he would be dead meat if he ran again. Nunn is definitely going to be in it and stands a very good chance of toppling the Tea Potty dude.

  • Nobama

    “John Walsh is a decorated war hero, and it’s disgusting that Steve Daines and Washington Republicans are going to try denigrate John’s distinguished service after multiple polls show him gaining.”
    I didn’t know that the NYT was working for the Steve Daines campaign, who’d a thunk it (LOL!).

    The real question here is why would the aforementioned NYT sandbag a Dem???
    It’s fairly obvious that, in their view, it’s better to get this out in July rather than have it be an October surprise. At least he can TRY to recover, although not very likely.

  • inIA2010

    Who cares? It’s a mistake most Motanans probably can’t relate to – only are told the degree of severity by whomever deems it poitcally expedient…

  • LZ126

    This is a disservice to those hospitalized vets who are truly undergoing the horrific aftereffects of PTSD – not those well enough to run for public office.

  • Buro Cratz

    Since liberty cannot survive if the vast majority of people do not understand its benefits, it is critical that liberty’s eternal and immutable principles be as widely disseminated as possible.

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