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But Schweitzer said he is enjoying pursuits other than politics, with a new lake house and a small ranch in the mountains.

“I don’t want to leave Montana. This is my home, not Washington D.C. I don’t want a job where I have to wear a suit and my dog isn’t welcome,” he said.

Other Democrats who expressed an interest in running, including state auditor Monica Lindeen and state schools superintendent Denise Juneau, were waiting to see what Schweitzer decided.

Schweitzer’s surprise announcement came as the Democratic Party meets in Lewistown for its annual convention.

State Sen. Kendall Van Dyk of Billings, said he understood the decision to spurn a dysfunctional Congress: “He chose Montana trout over the rattlesnakes.”

However, Van Dyk said, “Any objective observer will tell you that the guy he has done tremendous things for the state, and any Democrat will tell you he has done tremendous things for the party. Montana needs Brian Schweitzer. And I believe this isn’t the last we have heard of him.”

Republicans are hopeful that freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will run for the open seat. Some Republicans are also advocating former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who served from 1993 to 2001 and later chaired the Republican National Committee.

Daines said Saturday that he will continue to consider the race.

“My focus is fixed on serving the people of Montana and doing the job they sent me to do,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to give this decision the consideration it deserves, and am still taking time to talk with my family and the people of Montana about how I can best be of service to our state.”

As Schweitzer was mulling a possible Senate run, the Montana Republican Party circulated a 2010 Internal Revenue Service form that showed a politically active nonprofit group called The Council for a Sustainable America used the same Helena post office box used for Schweitzer’s 2008 re-election campaign and was signed by David Gallik, the state commissioner of political practices appointed by Schweitzer at the time.

The Council for a Sustainable America spent about $60,000 on politics in 2010, but it did not say in which races.

Schweitzer adviser Franklin Hall said at the time the nonprofit was never used for Montana politics or to aid Schweitzer.

Baucus, 71, announced in April that he was retiring. He was elected to the Senate in 1978 after serving two terms in the House.