HELENA, Mont. (AP) Max Baucus' decision not to seek re-election to the Senate after 35 years opened the door for Republicans to pick up one of the six Democratic seats they need to recapture control of the Senate.

But his early resignation after being named U.S. ambassador to China may have bolstered Democratic prospects of retaining the seat they've held for a century, thanks to the value of incumbency.

Baucus' China appointment allowed Montana's Democratic governor to name his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, to fill the suddenly vacant Senate seat. That makes the little known state adjutant general the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic primary and mount a general election challenge of likely GOP nominee Steve Daines, a freshman congressman who won his statewide congressional seat by wide margin.