Rosendale officially announces campaign for reelection to U.S. House

Matt Rosendale GOP Kickoff
Posted at 11:55 AM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 20:45:43-05

HELENA — There was one more shakeup in Montana’s political landscape Wednesday, as U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale announced he plans to run for another term in the House. It comes two weeks after he ended his campaign for U.S. Senate – and with a large field of candidates having announced plans to run for his seat.

Rosendale, a Republican, told MTN that, after suspending his Senate run, he received support from people across the state that convinced him to seek reelection.

“You go back to family, you have the conversations, and they're supportive of this effort right now,” he said. “So we're back in.”

Rosendale hadn’t officially updated his filing with the Montana Secretary of State’s Office as of Wednesday afternoon, but he said he planned to do it very soon.

Rosendale is in his second term in the House – the first representing Montana at large, and the second for the state’s eastern congressional district. He hinted at a run for Senate for weeks, and officially filed for the race earlier this month. However, former President Donald Trump endorsed Gallatin County businessman and Navy veteran Tim Sheehy for the GOP nomination just hours after the announcement. Rosendale said that created an “uphill battle” and led to him suspending his Senate campaign after just six days.

“When you file for an office and President Trump, the most popular and most powerful Republican in the nation, steps out four hours later and endorses against you, it closes a lot of doors that that you need to run for office, especially if you're talking about a United States Senate campaign,” he said.

Rosendale also announced Wednesday that he’s endorsing Sheehy in the Senate race – though he had previously criticized Sheehy for not having legislative experience and for his support from Senate GOP leadership.

“I have gone out now and attended several events with Tim, and I have seen him interact with the people across the state and the way that he's addressed the issues,” he said.

Trump said in his social media post endorsing Sheehy that he would endorse Rosendale if he decided to run for the House again. Rosendale told MTN he expected to receive Trump’s endorsement, as well as one from U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, who is chairing the Senate Republican campaign arm and had expressed opposition to Rosendale entering the Senate race.

Rosendale said it’s time for the Republican Party to come together to defeat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester – a race that could determine which party holds the Senate majority.

“It is so critical for us to maintain this thin majority in the House of Representatives and reclaim that majority in the Senate, and to make sure that President Trump – which I anticipate is going to win this election – has the people in place to help him to implement his agenda,” he said.

Rosendale’s announcement also comes days after Politico reported his staff had threatened legal action against Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic U.S. senator from North Dakota. On a podcast, Heitkamp repeated a rumor that Rosendale had had an affair.

“What I will tell you is that everything that former Senator Heitkamp said is 100% false and defamatory, and it is very upsetting to me to see that the mudslinging in politics has now stooped to a whole new low,” Rosendale told MTN.

Rosendale said his attorneys had sent an initial letter to Heitkamp, but he didn’t have further details on what the next steps would be in any legal action.

As of Wednesday morning, at least nine Republicans had announced they planned to run for the eastern district House seat:

· State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen
· Billings pharmacist Kyle Austin
· State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Ken Bogner
· State Auditor Troy Downing
· Former state Sen. Ric Holden
· Former state Rep. Joel Krautter
· Former U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg
· Former state Sen. Ed Walker
· Former DEA state supervisor Stacy Zinn

Rosendale told MTN he had reached out to all of the candidates to let them know about his decision. He said several had told him they would support him if he decided to run again, and he expected to see some withdraw in the coming days.

Krautter and Austin have previously told MTN they plan to remain in the race regardless of what Rosendale does. Zinn has said she would step back from the race if Rosendale refiled.

Three Democrats have also filed campaign finance paperwork to run in the eastern district: Kevin Hamm, a Helena business owner and president of Montana Pride; Ming Cabrera, a former pharmaceutical sales representative from Billings; and Steve Held, a rancher and business owner from Broadus.

The whole field won’t be settled until candidate filing closes on March 11. That’s also the last day for candidates who have filed to withdraw from the ballot.

Editor's note: This story has been updated. Original post below:

Republican Matt Rosendale officially announced Wednesday his campaign for reelection to Montana's second congressional district.

The two-term U.S. Representative made the announcement on social media saying: “I have always said I will serve where the people of Montana feel I can be most effective, and serving Montana in Congress has truly been the honor and privilege of a lifetime.”

Rosendale enters a crowded Republican field for the seat he currently holds, with several of the current candidates telling MTN previously they would continue to seek the nomination even if Rosendale reentered the race. At least nine Republican candidates had filed or announced plans to file as of Wednesday morning. Those candidates include former U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, State Auditor Troy Downing, attorney and former state legislator Joel Krautter, farmer and former state legislator Ric Holden, State Sen. Ken Bogner, State Sen. Ed Walker and former DEA official Stacy Zinn. Zinn had said she would leave the race if Rosendale ran for it again.

The announcement to run for reelection comes just shy of two weeks since Rosendale dropped out of the U.S. Senate race. After months of speculation he would try to challenge incumbent Democrat Jon Tester for the Senate seat, Rosendale exited the race after six days. The congressman cited former President Trump’s endorsement of Bozeman businessman and U.S. Navy veteran Tim Sheehy as his primary reason for withdrawing.

On Saturday, an amended statement of candidacy form was filed for Rosendale with the Federal Election Commission.

The deadline for anyone to file for the ballot is March 11.