Dec 18, 2013 11:41 PM by Mike Powers - KPAX News
MISSOULA - President Barack Obama is planning to nominate Sen. Max Baucus as U.S. ambassador to China, a Democratic official told CNN.
A longtime Baucus friend and confidante speaking on condition of anonymity told CNN's John King the Senator informed him directly that the China appointment was true.
Baucus, 72, the six-term lawmaker and chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, had no comment when asked about the appointment.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock would appoint his replacement if the Democrat resigns before his term expires, and could select one of three Democratic candidates currently running for the U.S. Senate.
They are Lt. Governor John Walsh, former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, and Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams. But former Democratic Congressman Pat Williams told MTN News that Bullock should not pick from that trio.
"My own thinking is that he should not appoint one of those candidates, because that would be like favoring them, for both the June primary, as well as the November election next year. I think he ought to appoint somebody who would just be a place holder," Williams said.
While Senator Baucus wouldn't confirm reports that he is about to be nominated by President Obama to be U.S. Ambassador to China, his spokeswoman said Baucus would be a natural for the job.
Meanwhile late Wednesday, Missoula Democrat Melinda Gopher posted on her Facebook page that she is dropping out of the U.S. House race to run for U.S. Senate.