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Sen. Max Baucus to Retire Next Year

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has decided to not seek re-election next year, ABC News has learned.

It is a decision that surprised -- and angered -- some Democrats, given his vote last week against expanding background checks in the gun debate, which is a top priority of the Obama administration.

Baucus is the eighth incumbent senator and sixth Democrat to announce plans to retire after 2014.  His decision to step down could complicate the Democratic efforts to hold its majority in the Senate, giving Republicans an open seat in a reliably conservative state.

However, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a popular Democrat, is considering running for the Senate, a party official tells ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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