HELENA, Mont. - Popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he will not run for Montana's open U.S. Senate seat in 2014.
The Democrat tells The Associated Press on Saturday he doesn't want to leave Montana and go to Washington, D.C.
Schweitzer says he felt compelled to consider the race because many in his party said they needed him to run.
He was considered the best chance Democrats have to hold onto the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus next year.
"For decade's upon decades, this has been a seat that's been held by Democrats," said Rep. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula. "This is the seat of Mike Mansfield, this is the seat of Max Baucus, and in 2014, this is a seat where Montanans are going to send a Democrat to the US senate."
Schweitzer says recent criticism over politically active nonprofits connected to him had no bearing on the decision.
"Our senate majority leader Harry Reid, it's my understanding that him and some other folks have been involved in trying to persuade him to reconsider. Loosing a seat in the US Senate, of course, might mean losing the majority," Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, told us.
The governor was recently elected board chairman of Stillwater Mining Co., Montana's largest publicly trading company, and says he is enjoying his life.
Republicans are hopeful that freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will run.