Helena - Thursday, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate from Montana made headlines from New York to Montana for allegedly lifting much of his 2007 master’s thesis from publications without adequate credit - a serious academic offense.
Appointed Democrat Sen. John Walsh of Montana was awarded his job in February to fill the Senate seat vacated by six-term Democrat Max Baucus, the embedded Democrat elected in 1978. Polls show Baucas was already in trouble with Montana voters before leaving his post.
Further complicating his campaign, Walsh has partly blamed his academic shortfall on post-traumatic stress disorder he developed while serving in the Iraq War. While Democrats have been quick to use the Iraqi War for political gain, it is unclear how much sympathy Walsh will gain using his war experience as an excuse for alleged plagiarism.
Democrats, desperate to hold onto the Harry Reid-led Senate after midterm elections, would face a turnover in Montana should Walsh lose to GOP Rep. Steve Daines. The most recent Real Politics poll dated 6/19 - 7/18 shows Daines leading Walsh by 12 ½ points.
Democrats can ill-afford such bad press with Republicans threatening to take control of the U.S. Senate away from them in November. To boot, Pres. Barack Obama’s approval ratings are in the tank and Democratic candidates are clearly avoiding the unpopular president, even during home-state visits.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh to the open Senate seat created when Mr. Obama appointed long-term Sen. Baucus to an international diplomatic position.
With the Democrat polling poorly against Steve Daines, Republicans see Montana as one of the easier Senate turnovers. Republicans only need to net six seats to regain control of the U.S. Senate and make Sen. Harry Reid the minority leader.
Most national polls show Republicans gaining Senate seats after midterm elections, and some say news reports from New York Times to local newspapers in Montana suggesting Walsh plagiarized could seal the deal for Daines.