Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh drops election bid, dogged by college plagiarism case


McClatchy Washington Bureau

Sen. John Walsh, the Montana Democrat dogged by revelations that he plagiarized large portions of his U.S. Army War College research paper, abruptly ended his election bid Thursday acknowledging that was unable to overcome the scandal.

‘The 2007 research paper from my time at the U.S. Army War College has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve,’ Walsh said in a statement Thursday on his campaign website. ‘I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted in me as your U.S. Senator. You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.’

Walsh was appointed to the Senate to fill the term of Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who was appointed U.S. ambassador to China by President Barack Obama. Walsh was seeking for his first full term in the Senate. He said nothing Thursday about resigning from the Senate before his term expires in January 2015.

Already trailing Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., in the polls, Walsh’s campaign suffered a fatal blow when The New York Times first reported on the plagiarism episode. Walsh acknowledged the incident and said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from a military tour in Iraq and was on medication in 2007 when he wrote his master’s thesis.

Walsh has apologized and called lifting the work of others a mistake. The war college is conducting a review of his work.

Walsh’s withdrawal came after two of the state’s largest newspapers called on him to drop out of the race. Expectations that he would exit heightened this week when he canceled several campaign events.

Jim Larson, chair of Montana’s Democratic Party, said in a statement that the senate race ‘is not about one person; it’s about Montana.’

‘The Montana Democratic Party looks forward to an open and transparent opportunity for Democrats to come together to decide a new nominee,’ Larson said.

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