GOP’s Daines nets Montana Senate seat

Freshman Rep. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesMoore endorsements disappear from campaign website Alabama GOP chair warns party officials against write-in campaign GOP retreat from Moore intensifies MORE (R-Mont.) easily clinched victory in the Montana Senate race Tuesday, scoring another pickup for Republicans. 

Daines was seen as the favorite throughout the year, and any hope of Democrats retaining the seat fell away when interim Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) bowed out of the race in August amid revelations that he plagiarized large portions of his master's thesis at the Army War College in 2007. 

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The Associated Press and other outlets called the race shortly after polls closed there. 

Democrats scrambled to replace Walsh on the ballot, picking Amanda Curtis, a freshman state representative. But she trailed Daines by double digits since being nominated in mid-August. 

Outside groups largely avoided the state, conceding that it would become a Republican pickup. 

The contest was one in a number of races that Republicans locked up early after the retirement of Democrats in red-leaning states, along with West Virginia and South Dakota.  

Daines will fill the seat left open by Sen. Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) appointment as U.S. ambassador to China after serving more than 35 years in the chamber.   

Steve Bullock (D) nominated Walsh to fill Baucus's term while he campaigned for a full term. But Walsh faced long odds and failed to gain traction even before the plagiarism scandal.  

The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently revealed to The New York Times that it was the source behind the plagiarism leak, which eventually sank Walsh’s campaign.

Daines was first elected to the House in 2012 and announced his intentions to move to the upper chamber less than a year later. He is one of two freshman House members to make the jump to the upper chamber this year, along with Tom Cotton in Arkansas.