Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (D) said Saturday that he will not run for Montana’s open Senate seat in 2014 — dealing Democrats a significant and unexpected recruiting blow.
Schweitzer told the Associated Press that he will not seek the seat, which immediately becomes a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.
“I love Montana. I want to be here. There are all kinds of people that think I should be in the U.S. Senate,” Schweitzer told AP. “But I never wanted to be in the U.S. Senate. I kicked the tires. I walked to the edge and looked over.”
Schweitzer aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The popular former governor had been widely expected to run since Sen. Max Baucus (D) announced his retirement. And as recently as last week, people close to Schweitzer were under the impression that he was about to enter the race.
With his exit, Democrats must find a candidate capable of holding another open seat in a red state. They are still seeking standard-bearers in two other red states where Democratic incumbents are retiring: South Dakota and West Virginia.