The editorial board of Montana's Billings Gazette paper is pulling no punches, calling on Sen. John Walsh to surrender the race, stop campaigning, and to finish out his appointed term to follow up Max Baucus after his retirement and to leave without a fuss.
Gov. Steve Bullock, who chose Walsh as his lieutenant governor running mate in 2012, endorsed his Senate bid and appointed him to the U.S. Senate earlier this year, bears significant responsibility for sending Montanans a weak Senate candidate.
Other Montana Democrats, including Bullock, should put pressure on Walsh to do the right thing. They need to distance the party from this, as well as demonstrate they can make a stand beyond politics. Instead of closing ranks around Walsh, Democrats should call on him to do the right thing.
Having repeatedly said that he wants to do the honorable thing, Walsh should stop campaigning and do his utmost to serve Montanans well in the remainder of his brief Senate appointment. That is the honorable course.
We call on Walsh to devote all his time to serving as U.S. senator and bag the campaigning. Montana needs full representation as the Senate reauthorizes the surface transportation bill, finalizes the budget, deals with public land issues, veterans services and numerous other issues important to our state.
Haunted by a serious lapse in academic honesty, Walsh is finished as a U.S. Senate candidate. But he should work even more diligently to finish the Senate job he already accepted.
That's a pretty rough assessment and an even rougher solution. The Gazette freely admits that if there was more time between now and November Walsh should resign, but that would leave Montana with only one senator, and the board complains very loudly that it would just put the now-suspect Gov. Steve Bullock in the same situation he was in before of having to appoint someone.
Still, calling on Walsh to abandon his campaign and for the rest of the state's Democrats to turn their backs on him is a major and telling blow. The cold reality is that there's little the Dems can do to keep this seat in November at this point.