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Montanans weigh in on Baucus retirement plans

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 23 2013 05:47:34 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2013 06:03:32 PM MDT

Max Baucus has been in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years, and in public service more than 40 if you count his time in the Montana and U.S. house.

It's a long time for the Senate -- and Montana. So when Baucus announced Tuesday he won't seek re-election, some locals like Charles Macmillan said, "it's kind of shocking," not to think of Max Baucus wielding his influence in Washington.

Baucus is Montana's longest serving Senator, and chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Voters elected Baucus to the Senate in 1978. In this final term, Baucus played a major role in passing health care reform and was named to the high profile -- but ultimately ineffective -- Deficit Reduction Supercommittee. The bi-partisan group was tasked with finding a compromise on tax cuts and spending hikes.

"He does have some power that the State of Montana will lose," said Bozeman resident Denia Layton.

Like her, some said they're worried about filling his shoes, and what it will mean for the future of our state.

"It's kind of going to be a little bit disappointing since Max Baucus has some seniority in the U.S. Senate, and he's the head of the Finances Committee," said Bozemanite Kiera McNelis.

Others who wouldn't go on the record told us they're glad he's going, because they don't support his policies.

Longtime conservation writer Dale Burk said Baucus had a tough job looking for balanced approaches, and always tried to find common ground.

"As a sportsman's conservationist, I can say that he's done an incredible job in terms of policies, issues and funding that protect habitat and protect access to public land," Burk said.

Some folks like Bozeman business owner Kyle Steiner said it's good to get a fresh person, and fresh perspective in office. And no matter who succeeds Baucus, they said it's time for change.

"With someone new in office -- whether Republican or Democrat -- change will be seen," Steiner said. "Whether for good or bad, I guess we'll have to wait and see."

In a statement, Baucus said, "Deciding not to run for re-election was an extremely difficult decision. After thinking long and hard, I decided I want to focus the next two years on serving Montana unconstrained by the demands of a campaign."

After his term,  Baucus said he'll come home to Montana for good.