Rosendale exits Montana U.S. House race

Matt Rosendale
Posted at 11:05 AM, Mar 08, 2024

HELENA — Less than a month ago, U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale officially launched a bid for U.S. Senate at the Montana State Capitol. After four turbulent weeks, he announced Friday that he won’t be running for public office at all in 2024.

“I don't see the time that I'm spending and the effort that I'm putting forward having the kind of impact that is necessary for me to truly justify staying up here,” Rosendale told MTN Friday.

Rosendale’s announcement is the latest unexpected turn for the two-term congressman. On Feb. 9, he filed to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. After six days, he suspended that campaign, saying former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Gallatin County businessman Tim Sheehy in the GOP primary was too much to overcome.

Rosendale then announced Feb. 28 that he would seek reelection to the House. However, he said Friday that events since then had made him reconsider.

“I had a death threat against me, forced me to get law enforcement – actually Capitol Police to get law enforcement out to my children's homes – we had these false and defamatory statements and rumors coming out against me,” he told MTN. “And so all of that begins to weigh on your decision about what you should be doing.”

Rosendale said he also recognized that reentering the race for the eastern district U.S. House seat created uncertainty for the nine Republicans who had announced plans to run for the position, assuming he was going to run for Senate instead.

“I can go back and reclaim the title that I enjoy most – which is ‘Pop’ to my grandchildren – and spend some time back at the ranch, and the very capable and qualified people that are already signed up to try and win that seat, then they can pursue it going forward,” he said.

Rosendale told MTN he does not plan to endorse a candidate in the GOP House primary.

“I don't think that that would be fair,” he said. “There are many people that I've served with, there's many people that are highly qualified, and I know that that they will do a very good job of representing eastern Montana.”

Rosendale said he’s frustrated that his efforts to push for reductions in federal spending haven’t been more successful. He sharply criticized the latest deal to avert a government shutdown, saying Republicans haven’t held the line on spending since taking over the majority in the House.

“I'm 64 years old,” he said. “If I don't see that I'm being productive, then it's truly time for me to go home. It's better for me and it's better for the people of Montana.”

Rosendale said he does intend to serve out the remainder of his term.

So, with only a few days left before candidate filing closes, the race for the Republican nomination in the eastern district will remain wide open. The nine announced candidates so far are:

· 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

Four candidates have also filed for the Democratic primary in the district:

· Retired pharmaceutical sales representative Ming Cabrera

· Former state lawmaker John Driscoll

· Montana Pride president and business owner Kevin Hamm

· Broadus rancher and business owner Steve Held

Monday is the deadline for candidates to officially file, so we should have a final picture of the field in this race by the end of the day.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.