Officials: Democratic Sen. Baucus to retire

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee who steered President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul into law but recently broke with his party on gun control legislation, has decided to retire, Democratic officials said Tuesday.

Baucus, 72, has been a fixture in the Senate since 1979 and has been the top Democrat on the Finance panel since 1981.

A Democrat with an independent streak, Baucus supported the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and Obama’s signature 2010 health care law. He broke with his party this year to oppose both the Senate Democratic budget blueprint and a hotly fought effort to beef up background checks for gun purchases.

The officials spoke about his retirement decision on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the senator’s intentions.

Baucus’ retirement opens up an opportunity for Republicans to claim a Senate seat in a state where GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney easily defeated Obama by 12 percentage points last year. But Democrats have proved resilient in Montana, with Sen. Jon Tester winning re-election last year. The election of Steve Bullock last year is the third term in a row in which Democrats have held the governorship.

Former two-term Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer would be a top candidate should he choose to run to replace Baucus.

Democrats in the Senate will be defending 21 seats next year to Republicans 14, with several Democrats running for re-election in GOP-leaning states that Romney won handily. Among the Democrats facing tough challenges next year are Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Democrats also have more retirements than the GOP. Five Democrats have announced they will not seek another term: Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Carl Levin of Michigan and Tim Johnson of South Dakota.

Among Republicans, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Johanns of Nebraska have decided to retire.

More in Local News

A close friendship is lost to fire

An 88-year-old Smokey Point mobile home resident died despite a valiant effort by neighbors.

Jensen Webster sorts through food stuffs at the Sultan High School in Sultan on March 14, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Sultan school children take charge to help their peers

The Sky Valley Youth Coalition has installed pantries at schools so kids can take food home.

Everett woman found dead identified as 21-year-old

There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body of Brianna Leigh Nyer.

Ivar’s in Mukilteo closes for disinfection after illnesses

The Snohomish Health District said it’s not certain what caused some patrons to get sick.

State will spend millions on task forces and reports

Here are eight undertakings that will incite possible action by lawmakers in the future.

Everett man admits deadly slashing of 2 Maltby-area women

John Dimitri Kuljis Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

State: Secret deal endangers Marysville Strawberry Festival

The “bizarre” agreement promises a former leader up to $175,000 if the group fails to meet his demands.

Destroyer USS Ralph Johnson to arrive in Everett on April 27

The brand-new ship will join five other guided-missile destroyers that call Naval Station Everett home.

Again, students here join nationwide protests over shootings

Friday’s marches and walkouts marked the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine. (With video)

Most Read