Helena, MT, United States (4E) – Democratic Senator John Walsh of Montana declared Thursday his withdrawal from the Senate race saying the plagiarism scandal he was embroiled in continues to be a distraction in his campaign.
“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. 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,” Walsh said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have met countless people in the course of this campaign who have offered support – who know what’s at stake for the future of our great nation. That is why public service is so important to me, and why I look forward to continuing to fight for Montana in the U.S. Senate.”
Walsh has until January to serve out his term, which started in February.
Calls for Walsh to resign followed the July 23, 2014 report ofThe New York Times that he plagiarized two-thirds of a 14-page strategy research paper, a requirement for his 2007 Master’s degree. The report said some material of Walsh’s thesis directly copied from sources without attribution.
Before the news broke out, Walsh had narrowed the lead in polls of rival Republican Rep. Steve Daines.
Meanwhile, the Montana Democratic Party has to choose a replacement for Walsh to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, along with Daines and Libertarian Roger Roots. The selection will be done in a nominating convention that should be held by Aug. 20.
Walsh, 53, served with the Montana National Guard for 33 years before then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer named his the state’s adjutant general in 2008. In 2012, he ran as running mate of gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock and they won the election. Last October, Walsh jumped into the Senate race as Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) declined to seek a re-election and Schweitzer, who expressed interest to replace him, changed his mind in July 2013.
President Barack Obama in December appointed Baucus to be U.S. ambassador to China, Bullock appointed Walsh to take over the vacated seat. Walsh hurdled a three-way primary for the Democratic Senate nomination in June to become the only Iraq combat in the Senate.
In the Senate, Walsh authored a bill creating an independent Commission on Care to examine the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in response to reports of delayed and inadequate care at VA facilities. Obama signed the bill into law Thursday.