'None of Your Damn Business:' Dem Governor Rebukes Harry Reid

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 09:39 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says he told Senate Majority leader Harry Reid it was none of his "damn business" when the Nevada Democrat tried to offer his opinion last December on who should fill the vacancy left by Sen. Max Baucus.

The Independent Record in Helena reported Bullock said Friday he got a call from Reid before it was public that President Obama would pick Baucus as the new U.S. ambassador to China.

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The newspaper noted the Montana governor, by law, fills any Senate vacancies by appointing a replacement.

“He wanted to weigh in on who I should choose and this was before it was even public,” Bullock said.

“And I said it was none of your damn business.”

Bullock wouldn't tell reporters if Reid had lobbied for a particular choice for the Baucus seat, saying they'd have to call Reid to get his side of the conversation.

But he was more than willing to recount his own end of the blunt exchange.

“I said, ‘You know what? Stay out of my decision-making,'" Bullock said. "'This is a decision I make and no one else. This is one of those decisions that voters have entrusted me with.’”

The newspaper said Reid didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Feb. 7, Bullock appointed Lt. Gov. John Walsh as Baucus’ replacement.

Walsh already was running for the open Senate seat, and Bullock had endorsed him.

Baucus, a fixture in the Senate since 1979 and the top Democrat on the Finance panel since 2001, announced last April he wouldn't seek a seventh term.

Montana's State Republican Chairman Will Deschamps had portrayed Walsh's appointment to fill the seat as "a backroom deal" orchestrated by the White House, Reid and Bullock.

“If there was a backroom deal, I certainly was never invited to that back room,” Bullock said Friday.

According to Roll Call, Capitol Hill aides in both parties had privately speculated Baucus’ appointment and confirmation was politically strategic — giving a Democratic seat-warmer an incumbent's advantage in what's predicted to be one of the GOP's top pick-up opportunities in November.

Democrats can lose no more than five Senate races if they are to maintain their majority, Roll Call noted.

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