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Biography of Max Baucus


Biography of Max Baucus



Biography of Max Baucus

Max Baucus was born on December 11, 1941 in Helena, Montana. Baucus lived in California until he was two, then lived in Helena until he graduated from Helena High School in 1959. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota for a year before transferring to Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1964, and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduating, he attended Stanford Law School and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1967.

After finishing law school, Baucus spent three years as a lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washinton, D.C.. He moved back to Montana in late 1971 and served as Committee Coordinator for the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention. He later was named acting Executive Director of the Convention. At the conclusion of the Convention he opened a law office in Missoula, Montana and filed for State Representative. In November 1972, Baucus was elected to the Montana House of Representatives as a state representative from Missoula.

After serving one term, in 1974 Baucus ran a successful primary election campaign against former Butte state legislator Pat Williams and former Congressman Arnold Olsen for the Democratic Party nomination for Montana's U.S. House 1st District (Western) Representative. In the primary campaign Baucus walked the western district from Gardiner to Yaak, a campaign that struck a chord with Montana voters. Baucus went on to win the November 1974 general election, defeating Republican Congressman Dick Shoup 54.7% to 45.3% and was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 against GOP nominee Bill Diehl. 66.4% to 33.6%.

Max planned to run for Senator Lee Metcalf’s seat in 1978 as Metcalf had announced he would not run again. But then early in 1978 Lee Metcalf died. Governor Tom Judge appointed Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Hatfield to Metcalf’s vacant seat and Hatfield filed for the June 1978 primary to become the Democratic nominee. Baucus proceeded to file for the seat as he had planned. In the Democratic primary in June 1978, he soundly defeated Hatfield (65.3% to 19.3% with two minor candidates getting 15.4%) and went on to win the general election that fall against GOP nominee Larry Williams 55.6% to 44.4%. Baucus was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 against Republican Chuck Cozzens, 56.9% to 40.7%; in 1990 against Republican Allen Kolstad, 69.8% to 30.2%; in 1996 against Republican Dennis Rehberg, 49.5% to 44.7% with two minor party candidates getting 5.7% between them; in 2002 against Republican Mike Taylor, 63% to 32% with Green Party candidate Robert Kelleher getting 3%; and in 2008 against Republican Robert Kelleher, 73% to 27%.

Serving in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 2013, Baucus was Montana’s longest serving U.S. Senator, and had the third-longest tenure among those serving in the U.S. Senate. Ambassador Baucus was Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. He was also a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chaired its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

On April 23, 2013, a Democratic official confirmed that Baucus would not seek a seventh term. On January 7, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Max Baucus to be Ambassador of the United States of America to China. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 6, 2014, and was sworn in on February 21, 2014, leaving his Senate seat vacant for gubernatorial appointment for the rest of 2014.

Ambassador Baucus has extensive experience in international trade. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Ambassador Baucus led the passage and enactment of Free Trade Agreements with 11 countries: Australia, Bahrain, Jordan, Chile, Colombia, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore, and South Korea. He also worked to increase U.S. exports by knocking down trade barriers and led business leaders on trade missions abroad to Germany, Spain, Belgium, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, Colombia, and China. During his tenure on the Senate Committee on Finance, Ambassador Baucus was deeply involved in orchestrating congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with China in 2000 and in facilitating China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Previously married to Ann Geracimos and Wanda Minge, Maxhas been married to Melodee Haines since 2011. He has a son, Zeno, who is a Justice Department attorney in Helena.

Publication Date

Winter 2016

Biography of Max Baucus