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Rosendale running for Montana's US House seat in 2020

Rosendale running for Montana's US House seat in 2020

Rosendale Election

Matt Rosendale.

State Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican, said Monday he's running for Montana's open U.S. House seat.

The ripples have been felt through the Montana Republican Party after U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, also a Republican, announced he's jumping into the governor's race, leaving his seat open in 2020.

“My commitment to give back to Montana has never been stronger. I’m running for the U.S. House to serve and work for the people of Montana. I pledge to always listen, represent our values and protect our Montana way of life,” Rosendale said in a statement Monday morning.

At a state GOP convention over the weekend, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who previously was running for governor, switched to the U.S. House race, citing Gianforte's move.

The governor's office will be open in 2020 as Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is term-limited from running again. Bullock has launched a bid for his party's nominee as president. Republicans see this election as a prime time to regain the governor's seat.

With Rosendale entering the race, only one statewide GOP official is seeking reelection: Secretary of Public Instruction Elsie Artnzen. Stapleton and Rosendale are running for U.S. House, and Attorney General Tim Fox is term-limited. He's seeking the governor's office in 2020.

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines is also running for reelection.

Rosendale won the auditor's job in 2016, a year Republicans swept all but one of the statewide offices as Gianforte, in his first bid for governor, lost to Bullock.

In 2018, Rosendale emerged from a four-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate to run against U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat. The general election drew millions in spending to the state and four visits from Republican President Donald Trump. Tester ended up winning, taking 50% of the vote to Rosendale's 47.

Former District Judge Russ Fagg said he also is considering a run.

Fagg lost to Rosendale in the U.S. Senate primary a year ago. He told The Associated Press that he hasn't yet decided whether to run for the House in this election or wait to see if Montana picks up another congressional seat after the 2020 census, but that Stapleton's and Rosendale's presence in the race won't influence his decision.

Fagg said Republicans need a winner who can hold on to the House seat after Rosendale lost to Tester.

"Matt had every advantage and couldn't pull it off," Fagg said.

In his campaign announcement Monday, Rosendale played up his connections with Trump, echoing the 2018 Senate race.

“I’ll work with President Trump to always put Montana and America first and will never stop working to make our country and Montana a better place,” Rosendale said.

Previously Rosendale was in the state Legislature, including a term as majority leader in the Senate. He ran for the U.S. House in 2014. Both Stapleton and Rosendale lost that year's primary, coming within 626 votes of each other. Ryan Zinke, the former secretary of the Interior, won that primary and that year's general election.

Rosendale and his wife, Jean, have a ranch in Glendive and three children.

Democrats Kathleen Williams, a former state lawmaker from Bozeman who ran against Gianforte in 2018, is running for the seat. She's challenged in the primary by state Rep. Tom Winter, a Missoula Democrat.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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