Montana Dems pick new Senate candidate

Montana Democrats have chosen a new candidate for the U.S. Senate race after Sen. John Walsh dropped out amid plagiarism allegations over his thesis at the U.S. Army War College, the Associated Press reported.  

The new candidate is a little-known state lawmaker named Amanda Curtis, who is a first-term representative from Butte. She has less than three months to make her case to voters over her Republican opponent Rep. Steve Daines. 

"If we win here in Montana, outspent and outgunned in a race where we were left for dead, it will send a message to Washington, D.C., that we want change," Butte said in a speech after the nominating convention in Helena. The vote was 82-46 for Curtis. 

Curtis is a 34-year-old high school math teacher whose family has labor ties in the blue-collar town of Butte. She won her state House seat in 2012. 

She has come out in support of "reasonable" gun control legislation that would expand background checks, and has criticized a 2011 medical marijuana law passed by the state Legislature as over restrictive, and pushed to increase hiring of Montanans for state public-works projects, according to the AP. 

In a statement Saturday after Curtis clinched the Senate nomination, the Montana Democratic Party called her “a force to be reckoned with."

"In her time in the state legislature, Curtis proved her strength as a voice for hardworking, everyday Montanans. Amanda has a proven record as a communicator and fighter."

Walsh released a statement thanking the "Montana Democratic Party for putting faith" in the state lawmaker.

"The people of Montana have an important choice for their next senator: A Butte teacher, or a Congressman with a record of shutting down the government and hurting small businesses, privatizing Medicare, selling off public lands, taking away the freedom of choice for women, and taking food away from hungry people," he said.

"...now all Democrats can stand together to serve our most vulnerable neighbors, to protect our clean air, water and public land, to fight for good education, and to protect Social Security and Medicare."

Montana is a prime target for Republicans looking to pick up six seats this November to take control of the Senate. 

Walsh, who was appointed after Sen. Max Baucus became the U.S. ambassador to China, withdrew his candidacy last week amid the plagiarism charges while he was studying at the U.S. Army War College. 

He had served for 33 years in the Montana National Guard and retired as a colonel in 2012. 

This post was updated at 2:55 p.m.