Montana Democrats in turmoil as sitting Senator drops out of reelection race

Courtesy CNN

MISSOULA, Montana -- Sen. John Walsh's Thursday decision to drop out of Montana's U.S. Senate race leaves the Democratic ticket wide open with November fast emerging.

One veteran Montana politician says Walsh' decision means that this could end up being the year that a woman emerges as a contender.

Former Montana Congressman Pat Williams told MTN News that it will be a battle, but Montana could see its first female U.S. Senator.

Williams has known the Walsh family for years and said he feels badly about the scandal that took him out of the race.

"I feel very sorry for John Walsh in this difficulty..I think it gives Montana, and Montana Democrats in a bad light."

But what happens next could be groundbreaking for Montana Democrats - if a woman steps forward to challenge Republican Steve Daines.

"I think it was difficult in any event to win - but not impossible - and it may be may be that a new face, perhaps someone surprising, can catch public attention," Williams observed.

The long time Democrat says a lot of Montana women will be asked to come forward and present themselves as possible candidates.

There is already a list forming, including Superintendent of Public instruction Denise Juneau, state legislator Dr. Franke Willmer of Bozeman, state legislator Carole Williams and former school superintendent Nancy Keenan.

"And given the opinion of Democrats - and the majority of Independents - that Steve Daines isn't right for Montana, it may well be that it could end up that a Democrat has a better chance than people believe in coming the next senator," Williams concluded.

Williams also says he thought John Walsh was doing a good job as Montana's senator and continues to support him as he serves out his term.