Senior aides to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the long-serving Democrat has decided to retire from Congress rather than seek re-election.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman has served in Congress since 1978, and played a key role in killing President Barack Obama's proposal for a "public option" in the Affordable Care Act.

While it's not clear who might have lined up to run against Baucus, recent survey data from the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling group found that his constituents had a mostly negative view of the senator.

Perhaps more troubling to Baucus: The survey also found that former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) had a much stronger positive rating, making him a key threat in the party's primary. None of the likely Republican candidates polled nearly as high, although PPP admits that "the GOP has the potential to make this race close."


Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund on Flickr.