Montana Sen. John Walsh drops out of governor's race amid charges of plagiarism

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - U.S. Senator John Walsh of Montana has dropped his election bid under pressure from fellow Democrats following a plagiarism scandal, the Montana Democratic Party said Thursday.

The decision will allow his party to nominate a new candidate ahead of the November election and follows revelations that Walsh had lifted without attribution parts of a paper he wrote for a master's degree.

"I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator," the Billings Gazette quoted Walsh as saying.

Last month, the U.S. Army War College opened an inquiry into accusations that Walsh, a Montana Democrat facing a tough election challenge, plagiarized parts of the paper.

The investigation came in the wake of a New York Times report that Walsh may have lifted at least a quarter of his master's thesis, citing an examination of the 14-page paper he submitted to obtain his degree in 2007.

Walsh's campaign has said he inadvertently misused citations in what was a research paper, rather than a thesis.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Walsh)

[Image: Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh speaks to reporters shortly after Gov. Steve Bullock (L) announced he is nominating Walsh to fill the Senate seat vacated by Montana Senator Max Baucus, in Helena, Montana February 7, 2014. By Dan Boyce for Reuters]