Montana legislator moves toward Democratic Senate bid

Montana state Rep. Franke Wilmer (D) is moving toward a bid for Sen. John Walsh's (D-Mont.) seat less than a day after Walsh announced he's dropping his campaign.

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Wilmer, who lost a 2012 House primary, is a Montana State University professor and favorite of some progressive activists in the state. She'd face long odds of defeating Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who has run a strong campaign and led Walsh by large margins in recent polling.

"If I have Democrats [sic.] support I will come out swinging and won't stop; I'd not only be the first woman running for this seat, but also possibly the most qualified senate candidate since Mike Mansfield," Wilmer wrote Friday morning in a Facebook post. "My main qualification? I am not a multi multi millionaire who thinks creationism should be taught in science classes."

Wilmer concedes in the post that she faces a tough path ahead if she gets the nomination.

"I know first hand what a long shot it is and how much hard work it will take and beating Daines in a few debates, landing a few punches in the campaign, and firing up voters to turnout is also worth it," she said.

Democrats are scrambling to find a replacement for Walsh, and their best chance at holding the seat — former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) — once again said he won't run for the Senate Thursday evening.

Other potential candidates include former NARAL President Nancy Keenan (D), who has indicated she doesn't want to run, former Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger (D), Montana state Sen. Dave Wanzenried (D), and former Senate candidate Dirk Adams (D).

Sources tell The Hill the party will select its nominee at a convention on Aug. 16 in Helena, Mont.