Billings, MT -

Max Baucus has launched what could be his last lap around Montana as a U.S. Senator with a vote pending on his nomination to become the next ambassador to China.

The 72-year-old Democrat kicked off a three-day tour of the state Friday at a rally in Billings.

Additional stops were scheduled in Crow Agency, Two Dot, Butte, Great Falls, Missoula and Libby.

Baucus plans to top it off Sunday with an invitation-only event in his hometown of Helena.

He already had announced his plans to retire this year after six terms when President Barack Obama nominated him for the ambassadorship.

If the Senate confirms the China posting, Gov. Steve Bullock will name an interim successor until voters weigh in during the November election.