Retiring Montana Sen. Max Baucus could be headed to China as the next U.S. ambassador. The senator announced his plans to retire earlier this year, writing in an op-ed that the call to step down from the Senate "whispered to me among the elk resting in a meadow east of the Bridger Mountains." According to the Politico scoop on Baucus's appointment, it looks like the Democrat will once again take a post far away from his home state. The news was also confirmed by The Washington Post and ABC news.
Baucus's term ends in 2014, but it's not clear whether he intends to finish out his term, or proceed with the reported nomination right away, although some reports suggest the latter. In either scenario, the veteran senator will leave a vacancy at the head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. If he vacates his seat before the end of his term, then Montana's Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock will get to appoint his replacement. According to the Post's congressional reporter Paul Kane, it's likely Bullock would appoint the state's Lt. Gov. John Walsh. Following the senator's retirement announcement, the 2014 elections to choose Baucus's successor were widely seen as one of the tighter races for Democrats.
Politico reports that the appointment was rumored for months, and that Baucus plans on telling his colleagues and family about it later on Wednesday. Neither the White House nor the senator's office commented to Politico on the rumored appointment.