ATLANTA (CNN) — In a surprising twist for the 2014 midterm elections, former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana will not run for the U.S. Senate as expected, according to a source familiar with his decision.
Schweitzer was widely considered to be the Democratic frontrunner to campaign for the seat and keep it in Democrats' hands after the current holder, Sen. Max Baucus, retires at the end of his sixth term.
After Baucus' retirement announcement in late April, Schweitzer said he was thinking about a Senate bid, a senior Democratic official told CNN at the time.
The liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grass-roots group that in part cut its teeth on Elizabeth Warren's successful Senate campaign in Massachusetts, has been aggressively pushing a Schweitzer run.
Almost immediately after Baucus announced that he would not run for re-election, the group went ahead with its Draft Brian Schweitzer campaign. It raised $10,000 within the first five hours in April. (When the group supported Warren, it raised $100,000 before she launched her campaign and $1.1 million overall.)
More than 22,000 people had signed their support to the effort to draft Schweitzer.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee had launched attacks on Schweitzer in preparation for his bid, considering him a potentially vulnerable Democrat in a state with large swaths of Republican voters.
He's also been considered a potential dark horse in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016.