The Montana Democratic Party said it could take months to replace a top staffer who left to work on a presidential campaign. Dennis McDonald, the state party chairman and a rancher from Melville, said he will be spending a few days each week at the party's Helena headquarters to guide things in the interim. The party has been without a day-to-day manager since former executive director Jim Farrell left late last month to go work on the presidential campaign of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. McDonald said he wants to make sure he gets someone in place before next spring, and estimated it could take a couple of months to find a replacement. McDonald said he doesn't feel rushed even though political campaigns will be gearing up for the November 2008 races. "Frankly, I've been slowing down the process a bit," McDonald said. "I want to make sure we do it right rather than doing it quick and doing it wrong." McDonald said more than a dozen people have formally applied, while many others have inquired about the opening. He said a fivemember panel that includes one representative from the party's top three elected officials, Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, will go through the applications. "The timetable might be influenced if there was suddenly a consensus that we had found the right person," McDonald said. "If we found the right person that everyone agreed was the right man or woman we would probably rush ahead."