Max Baucus, the senior Democratic Senator from Montana who has served since 1978, was set to retire at the end of his 2014 term. But President Obama announced on Friday that Baucus would be appointed the US Ambassador to China to replace current ambassador and former Gov of Washington Gary Locke, who is stepping down.
Baucus’ departure from the Senate removes the second-most-senior member of the chamber, and his absence raises numerous questions.
Who will fill the Democratic power vacuum, particularly as chair of the Senate Finance Committee? Who will the Governor of Montana appoint to his seat in the interim, largely considered a political boon? How well is Baucus, an old-school Midwesterner, suited to representing the United States in China?
Chuck Johnson, chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena, Montana
Clayton Dube, Executive Director, USC US-China Institute