The internet blew up this afternoon regarding Sen. Max Baucus’ political future after Politico broke the news of a possible White House nomination for the retiring Democrat as United States ambassador to China.
National media outlets including The Washington Post, Huffington Post and USA Today quickly picked up the story. However, no one has yet gotten confirmation about the potential nomination from the White House, nor has Baucus’ office offered any confirmation of the reports. Baucus spokeswoman Kathy Weber told the Indy that "it's natural that Max would be under consideration given his breadth of experience and depth of knowledge necessary for this important position. Like his mentor, Senator [Mike] Mansfield, Max truly understands the importance of U.S. relationships in Asia." Weber also told Huffington Post today that "Max has given his life to public service and when asked to serve he takes that request very seriously."
Speculation today turned to who Gov. Steve Bullock might appoint to replace Baucus should the nomination be approved before the end of his final term. The prevailing theory among various reports was that the appointment would go to Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is currently running for Baucus’ vacated seat on the 2014 ballot. Baucus would be vacating the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee in the midst of his efforts to rewrite the tax code.
Many including Politico likened Baucus' potential nomination to the political trajectory of former U.S. Sen. Mike Mansfield, who served nearly 10 years as U.S. ambassador to Japan following his storied decades in Congress.