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Montana governor appoints Democrat to replace Baucus n US Senate


HELENA, Mont. - Montana Governor Steve Bullock on Friday appointed Lieutenant Governor John Walsh, a fellow Democrat, to serve out the term of retiring Senator Max Baucus, who is moving to Beijing to become U.S. ambassador to China.

The appointment of Walsh, who plans to run for a full six-year term in the November elections, does not shift the balance of power in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as Baucus is also a Democrat.

"I wanted to appoint someone who I believed would be working to find solutions, not further dividing our state and nation," Bullock said at a press conference in the state capital, Helena. "And I wanted to appoint someone who I truly believed would wake up each day focused on putting Montana and Montanans first."

Walsh, who served over 30 years in Montana's National Guard including four years as its head, was elected lieutenant governor in 2012.

"There's a lot we need to fix in Washington," Walsh told reporters at the press conference.

"There are too many politicians who put their own political agendas ahead of doing what's right, too many folks who don't take responsibility for their actions. That's not how I work. That's not how Montana works," he said.

The race for Baucus' seat in November is seen as one of the keys that will determine whether President Barack Obama's Democrats will keep their Senate majority.

Walsh said he would run for the seat last year after Baucus, who headed the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which oversees tax and trade policy, announced that he was stepping down.

The Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to confirm Obama's nomination of Baucus as ambassador to China.