- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Responding to Republican legislative leaders’ request for transparency the selection of a replacement to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said state law leaves the decision to him and that the appointee “will represent the interests of all Montanans.”

Bullock has kept silent on the candidates he is considering and the selection process he will undertake in finding a replacement since President Barack Obama nominated Baucus to be the next U.S. ambassador to China.

A confirmation hearing for Baucus is scheduled for Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Montana Democrat also must be confirmed by the entire Senate.

If he is confirmed and resigns his Senate seat to take the post, Bullock will select an interim senator to fill Baucus‘ term until January 2015.

Republican leaders earlier this month sent Bullock a letter asking the Democratic governor how he intends to identify and select a person, when the process will begin and how he plans to include the public.

Bullock responded by letter Thursday, saying state law gives the responsibility of a temporary appointment to him and that he takes the responsibility seriously.

“You may be assured that all legal and constitutional requirements will be met, and that the appointee will represent the interests of all Montanans during the term of the appointment,” Bullock wrote.

Senate President Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, one of the authors of the original letter, called Bullock’s response a “non-answer.”

There are no requirements in law laying out how the appointment will be filled, Essmann said.

“The people deserve way better than that,” he said.

Bullock repeated to reporters Friday that until there is an actual vacancy, he “won’t get into the hypotheticals,” but he compared the selection process to that used in appointing cabinet and state board members.

Pressed for details on how he made those appointments, the governor was vague.

“We heard from people, we reached out to people, spoke to people,” he said.

One there is a vacancy, Bullock said he expects to move quickly.

Several people have shown interest in the interim appointment, including Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is running for the Senate seat in this year’s election. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Pat Williams also has said he would consider it.

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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