Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer will not run for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014, NBC News confirmed Saturday.
Schweitzer, known as a folksy, bolo-tie-wearing popular figure in Montana, was a favorite among Democrats to hold on to Sen. Max Baucus’ seat after the six-term congressman said in April he would not seek re-election.
Without a Schweitzer run, Democrats’ prospects of holding on to the Treasure State seat drop, placing the party’s control of the Senate in potential peril. Baucus was the sixth Senate Democrat this year to announce retirement plans ahead of the 2014 election cycle, adding to the two Republicans who said they will not be seeking re-election at the end of their terms. Republicans have a narrow path forward in needing to net six seats to capture the majority.
A PPP survey released two weeks ago found Schweitzer in favorable terms with Montana voters—54% approved of the former governor, compared to 40% who found him as unfavorable. However hypothetical match-ups between Schweitzer and other popular Montanans made for a tight race, the poll found, with a tossup between the two parties.