- Associated Press - Sunday, June 1, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Democrats are seeking to hold on to Montana’s U.S. Senate seat in one of the most closely watched elections in the nation. Here are five things to know about the Democratic U.S. Senate primary election:

WHO’S RUNNING?

Three Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination for U.S. Senate. They include Wilsall rancher and political newcomer Dirk Adams, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger of Helena and the incumbent, Sen. John Walsh of Helena.

WALSH‘S APPOINTMENT:

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh, his lieutenant governor, to fill the seat in February after Sen. Max Baucus resigned to become ambassador to China. Republicans and Walsh’s Democratic opponents alike criticized the appointment, saying it was politically motivated.

U.S. SENATE SEAT HISTORY:

Max Baucus‘ decision not to seek re-election after 36 years has opened the door for Republicans to pick up one of the six Democratic seats they need to recapture control of the Senate. The early resignation of Baucus may have bolstered Democratic prospects of retaining the seat they’ve held for a century, if Walsh’s short incumbency translates into votes.

THE MONEY:

Walsh by far has the biggest Democratic campaign coffers, raising more than $1.7 million by mid-May. Adams has raised about $460,000, although that includes a personal loan of more than $300,000. Bohlinger’s campaign budget has been under $20,000. Bohlinger and Adams have saved some cash by carpooling to campaign events together.

AFTER THE PRIMARY:

The Democratic nominee will face the Republican winner of a three-way primary that includes Rep. Steve Daines, state Rep. Champ Edmunds and Susan Cundiff of Missoula.