According to a report from Politico, six-term Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) will be the next Ambassador to China. Baucus, who was first elected to the Senate in 1978 was not running for re-election in 2014. But, despite his retirement, the news comes as somewhat of a shock because he chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which any tax reform bill would have to pass.
Once Baucus's nomination is confirmed by the Senate, it's near-certain that Montana's Democratic Governor Steve Bullock will appoint Lt. Gov. John Walsh to replace Baucus in the Senate. Walsh is currently a candidate for Baucus's seat and is considered the likely Democratic nominee. Presumably, by running as an incumbent, This will give Walsh an advantage running against Rep. Steve Daines in what is considered to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.
Earlier this year, the seat was presumed to be safely Democratic, when Bullock's predcessor in the Montana Statehouse, Brian Schweitzer, was believed to be a likely candidate. However, in July, Schweitzer surprised the political world by announcing that he would not run. This decision opened up the race and turned into a crucial 2014 battleground.
Baucus will be the Obama adminstration's third Ambassasdor to China. He replaces former Washington governor and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke who stepped down earlier this year. Obama's first Ambassador in Beijing was former Utah governor Jon Huntsman who stepped down after two years for a failed presidential run.