A setback for the Democrats in Montana

The Republicans are favored to pick up the Montana Senate from which Democratic Senator Max Baucus is resigning. The most recent poll I’ve seen showed Republican Rep. Steve Daines leading Lt. Gov. John Walsh, the Democrats’ front-runner, by 17 points.

However, the Democrats are hoping to provide Walsh with some momentum by appointing him to fill out Baucus’ term. That, at least, has been the speculation.

But Walsh may lose, not gain, thanks to new reports that he used his position in the National Guard for personal gain. On Sunday, a Montana TV station reported that Walsh was cited in a 2010 inspector general report for pressuring other Montana National Guard leaders to join a separate group — the privately run National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). At the time, Walsh was running for the NGAUS vice-chairmanship and was attempting to drum up support for his candidacy, according to the inspector general.

As scandals go, this one seems relatively harmless. But Walsh, if he’s the Democrats’ nominee, faces an uphill battle against Daines. An inspector general report alleging even minor impropriety is a setback.

Maybe 2014 will be a year in which stories like these break against the Democrats, for a change.