HELENA — State Auditor Matt Rosendale, as expected, became the second Republican to jump into the 2020 race for Montana’s open U.S. House seat Monday — just three days after the incumbent, Greg Gianforte, announced he would run for governor.
“My commitment to give back to Montana has never been stronger,” Rosendale said in a statement Monday. “I’m running for the U.S. House to serve and work for the people of Montana.”
Rosendale’s announcement Monday morning also comes just two days after another Republican state officeholder, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, said he would withdraw from the 2020 contest for governor and instead run for Gianforte’s House seat.
Rosendale also released a 30-second video Monday, highlighting what are sure to be staples of his campaign: His work as state auditor and insurance commissioner on health-care issues, access decisions on the Land Board and his refusal to take a pay raise in state law.
Rosendale’s campaign will be his fourth statewide campaign in the past five years. He ran for U.S. Senate last year and lost a close battle to Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and lost a Republican primary for U.S. House in 2014.
He won the state auditor post in 2016, defeating Democrat Jesse Laslovich.
Rosendale, 58, is a rancher and real-estate developer from Glendive. He spent six years in the state Legislaure before becoming state auditor.
The race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat is already becoming a crowded affair. In April, two Democrats said they’re running for the seat, including Kathleen Williams of Bozeman, who lost the 2018 U.S. House election to Gianforte by five percentage points.
State Rep. Tom Winter of Missoula is the other Democrat in the race.
Stapleton announced in January that he would seek the governorship in 2020, but on Saturday switched gears and said he’ll run for the House. Other Republicans also are said to be considering the House race. Republicans haven’t lost the seat since 1994.
Rosendale on Monday said he would “work with President Trump to always put Montana and America first,” and his video featured a shot of him shaking Trump’s hand at a Montana rally last year. Trump visited Montana four times last year to campaign for Rosendale in the Senate race.
Rosendale also will get help in the primary contest from the conservative Club for Growth, which said late last week it’s planning an advertising campaign against Stapleton. Club for Growth supported Rosendale during the U.S. Senate race last year.