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John Walsh Appointed as Interim U.S. Senator for Montana

General John Walsh
Photo courtesy of NBC Montana/KECI

At a press conference today, February 7, John Walsh was appointed by Governor Steve Bullock to serve as interim U.S. Senator, replacing former Senator Max Baucus.

Walsh will head to Washington D.C. on Monday, February 10, and will be sworn into the senate the next day.

The announcement has been expected by political insiders for a long time as both Baucus and Bullock had previously announced their support for the Walsh for Senate campaign.

Walsh says he would like to serve on the Senate Arms Services Committee and on boards related to commerce and agriculture, “things that will effect Montana,” he said.

During the press conference Walsh and Bullock were asked a variety of questions about how Walsh came to be chosen for the appointment. Answers tended to follow the lines of “I chose the person I thought would be most effective” and “the voters can decide in November.”

As to the timing and the vetting of Walsh, Bullock said he only informed Walsh of his appointment decision, “last night,” and that he never interviewed Walsh for the job.

Below is the full text of Bullock’s speech announcing Walsh’s appointment and Walsh’s acceptance:

Two years ago, when I was selecting my Lieutenant Governor, I was looking for more than a running mate. I was looking for someone who would be my partner in governing. Someone who would work every day to make sure that the Montana we pass on to our kids is even greater than the one we inherited. I was looking for someone who would put service above self, and could lead this state, if I could not.

In recent weeks, I’ve been going through the same process and asking myself the same questions. I have heard from many people, offering their ideas, as well as many offering their willingness to serve if I so chose. I have also looked at how other Governors have approached fulfilling this responsibility. This appointment – like all the duties entrusted to me in serving as your Governor — is a responsibility I take very seriously.

Throughout that process, I have been guided by the same core principles I considered in selecting my Lieutenant Governor. I wanted to appoint someone who I believed would represent the values Montanans hold important. I wanted to appoint someone who I believed would be working to find solutions, not further dividing our state and nation. And I wanted to appoint someone who I truly believed would wake up each day focused on putting Montana – and Montanans – first.

From the day he enlisted in the Montana National Guard, John Walsh has always had the courage to do what’s right and get the job done. In Iraq, John led 750 of Montana’s best into combat and when he returned home, he made sure those men and women –and all of our soldiers and airmen – were cared for.

John has spent his career protecting Montana – always putting service before himself.

I knew that John could take the problems we face head on and I asked him to join me as Lieutenant Governor. And Montana voters sent us here to get to work.

In just a year, we’ve made historic investments in education, we’ve taken steps that are creating jobs as we speak, and we –unlike Washington, D.C. – balanced our budget and cut taxes.

I couldn’t have asked for a better partner and Montanans –just like they were when he returned home from Iraq – can be proud of the work John Walsh has done for them. But today, my friend and colleague embarks on a new mission.

I introduce to you Senator John Walsh.

Thank you, Governor Bullock.

On behalf of the people of Montana, as a veteran, and as your lieutenant governor, it is a tremendous honor to accept your appointment to serve as Montana’s U.S. Senator.

I do it humbly and with great respect for the people of our state.

In 2004, I was asked to lead more than 700 Montana men and women into combat in northern Iraq. I was the Commander of the 1-163rd Infantry Battalion. It was a tremendous responsibility.

It took incredible courage for those men and women to do what our nation asked of them. They put service before self. And they took responsibility for their work. They did it darn well. And with honor.

What those Montana soldiers and airmen did in Iraq was inspiring. And I rely on that inspiration every day.

Today, I’ve been asked to serve our state in a new role: to represent all Montanans in the U.S. Senate.

It’s an enormous responsibility. I accept that responsibility, because we have so much to do in the months ahead:

• To serve Montana’s veterans and their families.

• To responsibly cut spending and reduce our debt.

• To strengthen our economy and – as Governor Bullock and I have already done – create new and better paying jobs.

• And to protect our freedoms and liberties.

I join all Montanans in saying thank you to Senator – Ambassador – Max Baucus. Max, you have dedicated your life to public service. You have been a champion for Montana. And we wish you and Mel the very best as you continue your public service on our behalf.

I want to say a special thank you to my family. We stand together through thick and thin. And I accept this responsibility as a husband. As a dad. And as a grandfather.

Governor Bullock, thank you for the opportunity to work with you and make Montana a better state. Together, we cut taxes for small businesses, so they can invest and create jobs. We improved education. We protected children.

As Montana’s lieutenant governor, I have had the opportunity to travel to every corner of our state. I talked with Montanans about the important issues facing our state.

I have heard their message loud and clear: There’s a lot we need to fix in Washington.

There are too many politicians who put their own political agendas ahead of doing what’s right. Too many folks who don’t take responsibility for their actions.

That’s not how I work. That’s not how Montana works.

Growing up in Butte, I learned from early on that this nation was built by people working together—regardless of what they believe.

That’s why I believe this isn’t about party – it’s about having leaders who will put Montana first.

Senator Baucus leaves big boots to fill. I know that by working together with Senator Tester and Congressman Daines, we can meet that challenge.

The people of Montana are too important to me. I will serve you well, with the courage to do what’s right for Montana… to take responsibility for making our state even better… and to protect our freedoms.

I will fight for you every day.

Again, thank you. God bless you. And let’s get to work!

 

Audience questions after press meeting:

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