With Max Baucus now confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) gets to appoint a temporary replacement for Baucus' seat.
And that pick is widely expected to be Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D), who is already running for Baucus' vacant Senate seat in November.
Selecting Walsh could give him a leg up in his Democratic primary, as well as boost his name identification for the general election.
Still, Montana remains a good 2014 pick-up opportunity for Republicans, given that President Obama got just 42% of the vote in the state in 2012. Then again, Sen. Jon Tester (D) was able to win re-election that year.
The front-runner for the GOP nomination in this Senate race is Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mo.).
First published February 6 2014, 1:06 PM
Mark Murray is the Senior Political Editor at NBC News, where he covers politics for the network, writes and edits its popular â€œFirst Readâ€ blog, and appears daily on MSNBC and Washington DCâ€™s NBC affiliate to discuss the latest political news.
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He also serves as a key manager of NBCâ€™s political coverage, giving direction to the networkâ€™s reporters and producers.
Before joining NBC News in 2003, Murray spent five years as a reporter at National Journal. And he has written freelance articles published in the New York Times (Sunday op-ed page), the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Monthly, Washingtonian magazine, and Washington City Paper.
Murray is a 1996 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (B.A.), and he resides in Washington DC.