Here’s some breaking news from the Billings (MT) Gazette‘s Charles Johnson:

Sen. John Walsh said Thursday he is pulling out of the Senate race because his campaign was distracted by the controversy over allegations that he plagiarized a U.S. Army War College research paper.

Walsh, a Democrat, said he decided to drop out of the race. He had canceled campaign events this week as he and his family discussed what he would do.

Walsh will serve out the rest of his Senate term, which ends in early January 2015.

“I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator,” Walsh said in a statement to supporters. “You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.”

The party has to select a new Senate candidate at a nominating convention by Aug. 20. About 175 delegates, including statewide and federal elected officials, county party committee leaders and the party executive board members, will pick the nominee.

It will be interesting to see if former Gov. Brian Schweitzer has issued any irrevocable “Sherman Statements” ruling out his own self as a replacement candidate by then. If not, you can expect the August 20 gathering will be a long loud wail for him to step in.

In any event, John Walsh did the right thing. He wasn’t going to win with the plagiarism scandal hanging over him, and he’s spared himself, his family, and Montana Democrats the pain of spending three months trying to change the subject.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.