Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

Senate Democrats suffered a real set back when former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer decided not to run for the open Senate. While Schweitzer had been seriously considering a run for several months he told the AP over the weekend that he didn’t want to leave Montana for Washington.

Schweitzer is still popular in Montana, a proven politician, and has significant grassroots support. Schweitzer served for two terms as governor but couldn’t run again last year because of term limits.

He was viewed as by far the Democrats best possible recruit to replace Max Baucus (D), who decided not to seek re-election. Without him in the race Democrats are going to have a much harder time holding the seat in a year when the Senate map is incredibly unfavorable to Democrats. Montana is a purple state that leans towards Republicans.

While he hasn’t officially declared yet, Republicans have a potential top tier candidate in Rep. Steve Daines. Daines was elected to the state’s one at large district last year so running for Senate would be an easy transition.