Montana Republican Rep. Rosendale seeks reelection after declining US Senate run.

Montana's Helena  After dropping his Senate bid under party pressure, Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale announced Wednesday that he will run for reelection in eastern Montana.

Rosendale, a conservative, briefly sought the GOP nomination to compete for Jon Tester's Senate seat earlier this month, defying Republican Senate leaders. He withdrew six days after joining the contest, citing former President Donald Trump's endorsement of Republican Tim Sheehy and fundraising issues for a Senate campaign.

A large Republican field, including Denny Rehberg of Billings, a former congressman and lieutenant governor, filed or announced to run for Rosendale's House seat. Rosendale posted on social media that family, friends, constituents, and Trump wanted him to run again.

"I'm humbled by the support I've received to run for Montana's 2nd Congressional District so we can cut spending, secure the border, and restore America's energy dominance," he added. Rosendale likewise endorsed Sheehy, saying it was time to “unify as a party” after previously calling him the candidate of a corrupt and entrenched Washington establishment.

Rosendale is a hard-right Republican and House Freedom Caucus member. He ousted Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy with seven other party members in October. He backed Trump and opposed certifying the 2020 Joe Biden victory.

Many Republicans believed Rosendale would not run again after being rejected for the Senate. His move upsets fellow Republicans who entered the House race thinking Rosendale wouldn't run again. State Auditor Troy Downing plan to run regardless of Rosendale's choice. Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen filed to run on Tuesday after earlier declaring she would only run if Rosendale did not.

Former Billings DEA agent Stacy Zinn, eastern Montana lawmaker Joel Krautter, Glendive state Sen. Ric Holden, and Billings pharmacist Kyle Austin have entered for the contest. Miles City state Sen. Ken Bogner and Billings former state Sen. Ed Walker plan to run.

Rosendale's unexpected withdrawal from the Senate campaign prevented an expensive GOP dispute before Montana's June 4 primary. Republicans hope to remove Tester to take over the Senate from Democrats, who have a small majority and will have several vulnerable incumbents on the 2024 ballot, including Tester. Former state lawmaker and auditor Rosendale lost to Tester in 2018 despite Trump's frequent visits. Montanans overwhelmingly elected Rosendale to the House in 2020 and two years prior.

After Montana obtained a second congressional seat in 2022 due to its growing population, Democrats struggled to gain a foothold in the district. That year's party nominee, former state senator Penny Ronning, finished third in the general election with 20%, behind Rosendale and Independent Gary Buchanan.

Billings Democrats Steve Held and Ming Cabrera have registered for the district Democratic nomination. Broadus rancher Held's daughter, Rikki, was one of the young plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Montana's pro-fossil fuel policy. Former pharmaceutical rep Cabrera. Democrat Kevin Hamm, a Helena small business entrepreneur and Montana Pride president, will also run.

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