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Rehberg mulling House candidacy

2014-01-03T00:34:00Z 2014-05-22T16:28:19Z Rehberg mulling House candidacyBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
January 03, 2014 12:34 am  • 

Former six-term U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg said Thursday he has not ruled out running this year for the U.S. House seat he vacated just one year ago, and is keeping his options open.

“People just started contacting me and asked, ‘Will you consider it?’” Rehberg said in an interview. “I like what I’m doing, expanding a small business, but I haven’t ruled it out.”

Calls have come from people in Montana and Washington, D.C., he said.

Rehberg said he would bring some advantages if he runs for his old House seat and wins.

“I think I have a lot to offer the people.” Rehberg said. “I could hit the ground running to work on all the problems that exist that we warned the public about like Obamacare and the direction of Washington.”

He has set no deadline for making a decision. The Montana political filing period this year runs from Jan. 9 to March 10.

Four Republicans and one Democrat have already announced for the open U.S. House seat, with two more Republicans likely to enter the race soon. The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., who is running for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat.

“I have an opportunity to think about it,” Rehberg said. “It’s not as critical for me to get started as early as they. I have my own due diligence. I’m getting around Montana a lot with my small business. I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of Montanans. I want to earn Montanans’ trust and respect and vote if I jump into this.”

Rehberg lost a bruising race challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in 2012. Tester won, 49 percent to 45 percent, with a third-party candidate getting the remainder.

Rehberg, 58, has been a fixture in Montana politics for most of four decades. He served as a legislator from Billings in the 1980s, as lieutenant governor under two governors in the 1990s and as the state’s congressman from 2001 to 2013.

Since leaving Congress, Rehberg said he, his wife and a relative are opening, in Billings, a Burger King franchise that will employ 43 people. They hope to build three more across the state this year. In March, he also became a co-chairman of Mercury Public Affairs, a national, Washington, D.C.-based public strategy firm.

Rehberg talked about changes in Montana’s congressional delegation.

“If we’re going to have a new senator and a new House member, we’re losing a lot of seniority and institutional knowledge,” Rehberg said.

He was referring to President Barack Obama’s nomination of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be Ambassador to China. Baucus has said he will resign the Senate seat once confirmed for the post and had announced in April he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Daines and two other Republicans are running for the Baucus seat, and three Democrats are seeking their party’s Senate nomination.

If he returns to Congress, Rehberg said he would retain his 12 years of House seniority. That, combined with retirements, would give him a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Appropriations Committee, provided Republicans maintain their House majority, he said. When Rehberg left the House, he headed the Appropriations subcommittee for education, health care and labor budgets.

Four Republicans have already announced their House candidacies. They are state Sen. Matt Rosendale of Glendive, former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings, Drew Turiano of Helena and former state Sen. Ryan Zinke of Whitefish.

Two other Republicans, state Sen. Elsie Arntzen of Billings and former Secretary of State Brad Johnson of East Helena, have said they would enter the House race after the holidays. On Thursday, however, Johnson said he may look instead at the open seat on the Montana Public Service Commission being vacated by Commissioner Bill Gallagher, R-Helena.

John Lewis of Helena, a former top aide to Baucus, is the lone Democrat in the race.

Without mentioning him by name, Rehberg said Lewis was “handpicked” for the House by Baucus, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Lewis “has his fingers all over Obamacare and all of Max’s issues,” Rehberg said.

In response, Molly Bell, spokeswoman for Lewis’ campaign said, “Montanans already rejected Congressman Dennis Rehberg because he never put politics aside to find solutions for Montana — and that’s what John Lewis has done quietly and effectively for years. John Lewis is the independent leader Montana needs in Congress.”

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. fwiwimho
    Report Abuse
    fwiwimho - January 04, 2014 9:46 am
    FWIW....I am not a liberal. I did not vote for for this clown at any time. I knew of his track record long before he ever started into politics. And finally, if this is all the Republican party has to offer, "we" are in serious trouble!
  2. FromMT
    Report Abuse
    FromMT - January 03, 2014 6:58 pm
    Both of those people have nothing to do with Rehberg. When you find your reason then you can voice it.
  3. Tiger Woops
    Report Abuse
    Tiger Woops - January 03, 2014 5:01 pm
    PUUUUHLEEEEEASE ... you accomplished NOTHING in the House and even less as Lt. Gov.

    Take your lumps and tell the two or three Billings oil peeps to call someone else. It's time stay retired. We Montanans don't need your ineffectiveness and your do-nothing background.
  4. catspaw
    Report Abuse
    catspaw - January 03, 2014 12:49 pm

    Didn't you just tell Montanans OFF last year for not election you to the Senate, and for good reason (GOTP affiliation, doing nothing in House, suing firefighters, the booze boat coverup, etc.).

    You were always good for a few whoppers in your time. Now if I want a Whopper from you, I can drive to Billings and order one.

    Don't quit your day job.

  5. Twangs
    Report Abuse
    Twangs - January 03, 2014 12:09 pm
    Maybe being a lobbyist doesn't pay as well as I thought. Denny, how can we miss you when you won't go away?
  6. justme59601
    Report Abuse
    justme59601 - January 03, 2014 11:13 am
    i can't believe more liberal trolls aren't jumping all over this one. of course, these 4 comedian commenters voted for numbnuts....twice
  7. MrPink
    Report Abuse
    MrPink - January 03, 2014 10:45 am
    Please...spare us.
  8. Voice Of Reason
    Report Abuse
    Voice Of Reason - January 03, 2014 10:31 am
    ObamaCare is just RomneyCare with a blue ribbon.
  9. montanatom1950
    Report Abuse
    montanatom1950 - January 03, 2014 10:30 am
    Some people recycle cans, bottles, newspaper and cardboard. The Republican Party recycles candidates.
  10. fwiwimho
    Report Abuse
    fwiwimho - January 03, 2014 7:54 am
    Think again Denny! This people of this fine state have had enough of your "politics".

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