Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)
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WASHINGTON — Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh announced Thursday that he is dropping his Senate bid after it became clear that he could not overcome the fallout from a plagiarism scandal, the Billings Gazette reported.
Walsh, an Army veteran, was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Max Baucus earlier this year after Baucus was appointed by the Obama administration to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. Walsh's appointment was supposed to give him an electoral edge as the incumbent in a tough election battle against GOP Rep. Steve Daines, who had led in the polls.
However, a New York Times story in late July revealed that Walsh had plagiarized significant amounts of text in a thesis that earned him a masters degree from the Army War College in 2007. The college is conducting a review that could strip him of his degree. Walsh apologized and said it was a mistake and noted that he has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder related to his war service.
Two local Montana papers called for Walsh to end his Senate campaign and serve out the remainder of his term.
Walsh's decision to end his campaign comes before a critical Monday deadline. The Montana Democratic Party has until Aug. 20 to choose a replacement candidate for the November ballot.
Daines remains heavily favored to win. His likely victory provides Senate Republicans with one of the six Senate seats they need to gain to take control of the U.S. Senate.