Sen. John Walsh has had a tough couple of weeks, amid plagiarism charges. The next three months before Election Day are not likely to improve for the Montana Democrat.
John Walsh stands accused of plagiarizing the research paper he submitted to Army War College in 2007. The paper, which is a requirement for a master's degree, was thoroughly analyzed by The New York Times and posted online as well for readers to draw their own conclusions.
Republicans have pummeled Walsh over the charges. Now one of Montana's leading newspapers, the Missoulian, argues in an editorial that Walsh should drop out of the race altogether.
The Times's analysis - and conclusion - pointed out that Walsh's paper did not just incorrectly attribute a few statements. It lifted entire passages of works from other sources without citing them.
Now the War College is conducting its own investigation. If it, too, finds that Walsh copied others' work, the punishment could possibly include the loss of his degree.
When first confronted with the plagiarism charges, Walsh stuttered and stammered, blaming the incident on PTSD from his Iraq service in the Montana National Guard, among other explanations. He eventually conceded that the academic controversy was a mistake of his own making.
But it's too late, contend the Missoulian's editorial writers.
Montanans simply cannot - and won't - trust a senator who portrayed the words and ideas of others as his own for his own personal gain.
And since Montanans deserve a true choice between candidates this November, Walsh should bow out of the Senate race immediately. With each passing day that Walsh remains in the race, Montana Democrats lose time to replace him with a more viable candidate.
Uphill Battle Anyway
Walsh already had a tough road to winning in November. He was appointed to the Senate by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock earlier this year, after 35-year Senate veteran Max Baucus, nominated and confirmed as ambassador to China.
Montana is a Republican-leaning state, and GOP Congressman Steve Daines, serving his first term, has been the frontrunner all along. The political calculus for Walsh's appointment was that he could gain a leg up with voters as an appointed senator, bringing home goodies from Washington and otherwise showing his fitness for high office.
Republicans need to win six seats to claim a Senate majority. The Montana seat was always a key part of that calculus, along with likely-to-go-Republican races in South Dakota and West Virginia. Democrats figured that with a military man on the ballot, one who had already won statewide office, they stood at least a fighting chance to retain the seat. But obviously it has hasn't worked out that way.
Walsh, 53, previously served as a United States Army National Guard colonel, the adjutant general of the Montana National Guard with a state commission as a brigadier general from 2008 to 2012. Running with now-Gov. Bullock, Walsh served as lieutenant governor of Montana for 13 months before his appointment to the Senate.