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The Baucus Split-Up? You Could See It in the Cards

Max and Wanda Baucus in 1999 (Liz Hahn/Great Falls Tribune)

Looks like Sen. Max Baucus and his wife, Wanda, have quietly split. Speculation that their marriage is over was all but confirmed last month when Montana's senior senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee sent out a Christmas card ... with no mention of his spouse of 25 years.

Baucus, 67, wed Wanda -- an aide to former senator Dale Bumpers -- shortly after his nasty split from journalist Ann Geracimos in 1982. The couple spent most of their time in Washington and kept a low profile, except for her well-publicized assault charge in 2004 after a dust-up with another woman at Johnson's Garden Center over bags of mulch.

Rumors that the marriage had faltered intensified last summer, when Wanda did not attend the June wedding of stepson Zeno Baucus to Stephanie Denton at the Big Sky Resort. In September, Baucus's camp denied reports he was sleeping on his office couch but would not comment on a separation. The couple issued a non-denial denial: "In 25 years of spirited marriage, it is natural for differences of opinion to arise. We choose to discuss and resolve our differences privately and respectfully thank people for understanding."

The Montana Democrat ran for his sixth term this fall, but his artist wife was not mentioned in his campaign ads, was not at his side for the adoring family photo-op on election night in Billings, and has disappeared from his official biography. The final straw for curious observers was this year's annual Christmas card, which had always proudly featured one of Wanda's abstract paintings and was signed by both of them. This year, Baucus sent out a card with a picture of the Capitol dome and only his signature.

Baucus did not respond to repeated phone calls for comment.

By The Reliable Source  |  January 5, 2009; 1:05 AM ET
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