Sen. Max Baucus' decision not to run for re-election in 2014 leaves the Montana Democrat with more than $4.8 million in campaign money — and no campaign to spend it on.
Baucus has several options for what he can do with all that cash, according to Federal Election Commission regulations. The only real restriction is that he can't keep it for himself.
He could transfer any amount to national, state or local Democratic committees. He could donate to other candidates — within state and federal contribution limits. He could use some cash to defray travel costs and expenses related to winding down his office. He also could turn his campaign committee into a political action committee.
Baucus' campaign organization will be closing in the coming weeks. Baucus officials say he intends to support the Montana Democratic Party, Democratic candidates and charities or foundations Baucus believes in.
Most analysts see the race as going to Gov. Brian Schweitzer's, a Democrat, if he decided to run. "If Schweitzer comes in and decides to run, I don’t see a path forward for the Republicans. If he doesn’t? Anything could happen – for both sides,” David Parker, a professor at Montana State University, told The Christian Science Monitor. “It all begins and ends with Brian Schweitzer.”
“Democrats have had a great deal of electoral success in Montana over the last decade, and I am confident that will continue,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado, the head of his party’s committee charged with electing Democratic senators, in a statement. “Democrats built an unprecedented ground game in Montana in 2012 when Senator Tester was reelected, and we will continue to invest all the resources necessary to hold this seat.”
"There's been no bigger supporter than Max Baucus of the Montana Democratic Party throughout all the highs and lows over the years. Max will continue to be looking for ways to support the party, Montana Democratic candidates and causes as he always has," John Lewis, Baucus' state director, said in a written statement to The Associated Press.
Baucus can no longer accept contributions since his public withdrawal announcement, according to the FEC. Any donations made after Tuesday must be returned or re-designated within 60 days.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.