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Democratic Senate candidate drops out after plagiarism revelations

Senator John Walsh, in a campaign ad
Senator John Walsh, in a campaign ad
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.
Senator John Walsh (D-MT) announced Thursday that he would drop his campaign for a full term this fall, the Billings Gazette reports.

The announcement comes about 2 weeks after Jonathan Martin of the New York Times reported that Walsh's 2007 master's thesis from the US Army War College was extensively plagiarized. Martin writes that Walsh took "at least a quarter of his thesis" from other sources, and copied his entire concluding section from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document. You can take a look at the eye-catching similarities here.

Walsh told the Times that he "didn't do anything intentional." Yet Politico reported that other Montana Democrats, running for the open US House seat and for the state legislature, were concerned that Walsh would hurt the party overall if he stayed in.

Walsh's Senate seat, which he was appointed to in February after longtime Senator Max Baucus resigned to become ambassador to China, was generally written off as lost by Democrats. Most polls showed Walsh far behind Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), though some optimistic Democrats hoped that he could make a comeback.

If the plagiarism revelations came as a result of an opposition research drop, as some have speculated, the timing might actually have worked out well for Democrats. The party can name a new candidate at its August 20th convention. The Washington Post's Philip Bump lists some possible replacements for Walsh here.

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