HELENA, Mont. -

Brian Schweitzer's surprise announcement that he won't run for the U.S. Senate dealt a big setback to Democratic plans to retain Max Baucus' seat.
    
However, party officials said Monday they still believe they are in a strong position to hold the seat even without the former governor.
    
Attention shifted to Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and others. Lindeen said Monday that she would like to make a decision before Labor Day.
    
Other names being considered include Lt. Gov. John Walsh.
    
But confident Republicans predicted the race now easily tilts in their favor. Many expect that freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will run.
    
The Montana Republican Party announced Monday that a Daines' staffer had been brought on board to run the party's field operations.