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

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital accepting adolescent patients

The facility is the first mental heallth unit in the county to offer in-patient services for children.

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on US 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Most Read