Democrats About Ready to Chalk Montana Up as a Loss

Sen. John Walsh’s best defense to a charge of plagiarizing his master’s thesis is that he doesn’t think he did it, and if he did, Walsh told the New York Times it was not “intentional.”

He also told The Associated Press that if he did it it might have been the result of post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Iraq. Walsh said he was on medication at the time and was coping with the recent suicide of a friend who served with him in Iraq.

Walsh served in Iraq as adjutant general of the Montana National Guard. His Senate website says he led hundreds of National Guard members into combat in 2004 and 2005.

The New York Times reported today that close to a quarter of Walsh’s research paper on American Middle East policy written in 2007 for the U.S. Army War College included “other authors’ work with no attribution.”

Walsh’s recommendations in the paper are almost a direct copy of a Carnegie Endowment for Peace document, according to the NYT, and other portions seem to have been lifted directly from a paper written by a Harvard scholar.

In a few months, it might not be clouds you see in the Big Sky over Montana. It might be a huge, white towel that Democrats have thrown into the senatorial ring.

Montana looks like a lost cause. Democrats got that harsh slap of ice-cold reality right across their collective face on page 11 of the Democracy Poll survey released Tuesday.

The survey, which was a function of Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, polled voters in the 12 states where the organizations believe Democrats’ control of the Senate is being most hotly contested.

“It shows that control of the Senate rests on a knife’s edge,” according to the survey’s authors, who put Montana in the third tier of the dozen states, the tier — including Montana, Georgia, Kentucky and West Virginia —that should be crossed off the Democratic Party’s list as lost causes.

The Democracy Poll shows Democrats have a lot to worry about in these days before the first Tuesday of November.

The party’s best chances to hang on to Senate seats are in the states of Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

The second tier of states — Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa and Louisiana — is what the Washington Post described as a “firewall” of protection for the Democrats’ majority in the Senate.

Real Clear Politics has a slightly more optimistic view of the Montana Senate race, ranking it as “leaning to” the Republican side.

Walsh is not giving up. He's an anomaly among Democratic Senate candidates as he fights off the challenge of Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

For the most part, his fellow Democrats are trouncing their Republican opponents in fundraising, but not Walsh.

The New York Times reported the former lieutenant governor of Montana has consistently trailed Daines in both voter support and fundraising, as the incumbent tries to win election to the Senate for the first time.

Walsh was appointed to office by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and sworn into office in February, replacing former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who was appointed U.S. ambassador to China.

If there is any good news for the Democrats of Montana, here it is: While he’s still a relative pauper in terms of fundraising, Walsh is catching up to Daines in voter approval, thanks in part to (believe it or not) Republicans.

“Steve Daines is still the favorite in this race but it’s looking much more competitive now than it did last fall,” said Dean Debnam, the president of Public Policy Polling. “It’s as close as the races in places like New Hampshire and Michigan that are getting far more attention as ones to watch this fall.”

The authors of the Democracy Poll, as much as they don’t want to, would beg to disagree.

And, money is still a problem for Walsh – as well as his new plagiarizing scandal.

The Federal Election Commission shows the Daines campaign for Senate had $1.9 million cash on hand at the end of the second quarter. Walsh’s campaign only had $713,621 in the bank.

Net contributions for Walsh were lower than for Daines: $2.468 million for the Democrat, $3.54 million for the Republican.