Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is giving "serious and thoughtful consideration" to a Senate run now that Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.) is retiring.
"Steve is humbled by the calls and emails encouraging him to consider a run for the Senate, and given today's announcement by Senator Baucus, he is giving it serious and thoughtful consideration," Daines spokeswoman Alee Lockman told The Hill in an email. "Steve remains committed to serving the people of Montana and solving the great challenges facing our nation."
Daines could give Montana Republicans' chances a boost at winning the seat in the GOP-leaning state: he's the first candidate who has won statewide office to indicate interest in the race, and Republicans have a short bench in the small state.
He'd previously said he was unlikely to run for the seat — but that was before Baucus's retirement announcement.
Democrats are hopeful that popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) will run, which would give them their own top-tier recruit. Schweitzer told The Hill earlier on Tuesday that he will consider a bid.
"I'm the kind of guy that, when I see a broke-down pickup, I'll get out with my tools and try to fix it, and I can tell you looking at Washington, D.C., from Montana, there is no bigger broke-down pickup than the Senate in Washington, D.C.," Schweitzer said in an interview when asked if he was looking at a run to replace Baucus. "I'm not ruling anything out, or anything in."