John Walsh Withdrawing From Senate Race Over Plagiarism Questions

Sen. John Walsh is withdrawing from the Montana Senate race over plagiarism accusations stemming from the final paper he wrote to earn his master’s degree from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Walsh met with his campaign manager Wednesday night to discuss the decision, then told campaign supporters Thursday.

Sen. Walsh, a Democrat, was appointed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to fill the remaining term of former senator Max Baucus, who stepped down in February to become U.S. Ambassador to China.

The New York Times reports that, six months after he was appointed, Walsh stated that he will not seek election in the fall. In a statement to supporters, Walsh explained:

“I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator. You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.”

Monday is the deadline for Montana candidates like John Walsh to withdraw from the general election. Now that Walsh won’t be running, two Montana Democrats told The Times that the party is eyeing Nancy Keenan, a former head of Naral Pro Choice America, to be the party’s nominee this fall against Republican nominee Steve Daines.

USA Today notes that Sen. John Walsh also commented on the alleged plagiarism saying, “The 2007 research paper from my time at the U.S. Army War College has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve.”

Walsh is not resigning his Senate seat, but rather will serve out his term, which ends in January. He was already the Democrats’ candidate when he was appointed to the Senate in February. His appointment was supposed to give him a boost in the polls as the incumbent. However, Daines still leads in the polls.

The alleged plagiarism was uncovered in late July by the New York Times, which reported that the senator plagiarized significant amounts of text in his thesis from 2007. The college is conducting an investigation into the allegations, which could strip him of his master’s degree. Walsh apologized for the incident and said it was a mistake. He also note that he has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder related to his was service.

Two local papers called this week for Walsh to drop his Senate campaign. Jim Larson, Montana Democratic Party chairman, stated of John Walsh’s decision to withdraw, “The Montana Democratic Party looks forward to an open and transparent opportunity for Democrats to come together to decide our new nominee.”

[Image: Roll Call]