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Republican U.S. House candidates staying the course after Rosendale withdrawal

Matt Rosendale GOP Kickoff
Posted at 8:25 PM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 22:25:02-05

HELENA — For months, Republicans interested in running for Montana’s eastern U.S. House seat were in a gray area, as incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale hadn’t said whether he’d seek another term. There’s now some uncertainty again, after Rosendale filed to run for Senate – leaving his House seat open – then ended that run days later.

Rosendale hasn’t said yet whether he plans to return and run for another term in the House. So far, though, most of the Republicans running in his district told MTN they aren’t changing their plans at this point.

A spokesperson for State Auditor Troy Downing said in a statement that Downing was running and “moving full steam ahead.” Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, who said she wouldn’t officially launch a campaign until after Rosendale announced for Senate, shared a statement Friday saying she was “all in.”

State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Ken Bogner, R-Miles City, told MTN Friday that he’s continuing to run on conservative principles, and that “nothing’s changed in this race” yet. Ed Walker, a former state senator from Billings, said in a statement that the eastern district needs to elect a true conservative fighter, and “we’re going to see how the race plays out.” Former state senator Ric Holden of Glendive said he’s waiting to comment until Rosendale makes a decision, but “as of today, the Holden campaign is going to continue.”

Two candidates said specifically Friday that they’re staying in the race regardless of what Rosendale does. Former state representative Joel Krautter of Billings said when launching his campaign he was willing to compete with Rosendale to represent a new generation of leadership. Billings pharmacist Kyle Austin filed to run last month, after having run against Rosendale in the 2022 Republican primary.

Stacy Zinn, the former Montana supervisor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Adminstration, was the one candidate to tell MTN Friday that she would step back if Rosendale refiled for the House, but she said “until he does this, I am moving forward.”

Other Republicans have looked at entering the race. The deadline for anyone to file for the ballot is March 11.

Two Democratic candidates already announced they were running in the eastern congressional district, well before Rosendale announced his Senate run last week. They are Kevin Hamm, a Helena business owner and president of Montana Pride, and Ming Cabrera, a former pharmaceutical sales representative from Billings.