Democratic Senator John Walsh has decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race. In a public statement released today, Walsh said:
The 2007 research paper from my time at the U.S. Army War College has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve. I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. Senator. You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.
The decision comes in the wake of plagiarism charges, amidst rumors circulating all this week, and after two Montana newspapers called for his resignation.
The announcement comes just one day after the ex-national guardsman told NPR that he was “not a quitter.”
Now with less than 3 months until the November 4th elections against Republican Senatorial candidate Steve Daines, the Montana Democratic Party will have to find a replacement to run in place of Walsh.
Party leaders will hold a special nominating convention Aug. 16, at 9 a.m. in Helena to select a replacement candidate. Bryan Watt, party spokesperson, says the intent is to have a candidate nominated by the end of the day. They have until Aug. 20 to choose a candidate.
A tweet from former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's twitter account said he will not seek the Senate nomination. Governor Steve Bullock has also said he will not run.
The scandal began July 23rd when the New York Times reported that Walsh had plagiarized more than 25 percent of his final paper needed to earn a master’s degree from the United States Army War College in 2007.
Since that report, the 33 year veteran has stated that the plagiarism was a mistake and that, at the time, he was suffering from symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the recent suicide of a colleague. Though he stopped short of saying that the symptoms caused the him to plagiarize.
Governor Steve Bullock appointed Walsh, who was Lieutenant Governor at the time, to fill the remainder of former Senator Max Baucus’ term after Baucus left to become U.S. ambassador to China.