As Alex Roarty of National Journal reports:
The White House's out-of-the-blue decision to name Sen. Max Baucus [D. Montana] the next ambassador to China means the state's Democratic governor must appoint a replacement long before next year's Senate election. And that will fundamentally change one of 2014's biggest battleground races: Instead of a free-for-all, open-seat battle, Democrats will get to rally behind a better-entrenched incumbent seeking a full term.
The move is potentially helpful not only to the Democratic party but to that segment of the political class that might have been concerned about the Baucus moves toward comprehensive tax reform. This might have meant the loss of various loopholes, all of which would have been vigorously defended and many of those doing the defending would have been former Baucus staffers who have since gone to work on K Street. So the “reforms” might not have amounted to much even if Baucus had stayed on to finish his term and gotten the project underway.
So Baucus will leave behind business that might be best unfinished and a memorable prediction that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act – which had his fingerprints all over it – would be a “train wreck."