Rehberg eyes bid for former House seat

Former Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) might want his old House seat back in 2014.

Rehberg, who represented Montana’s at-large district for six terms before giving it up for a losing Senate bid against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in 2012, told the Billings Gazette he’s open to another run.

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

Rehberg lost to Tester in one of the nation’s most expensive fights by about four percentage points in 2012.

Montana’s lone congressional district was left open with the entrance of Rep. Steve Daines (R) into the state's open Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D). 

While Rehberg would start off with considerable name recognition, he’d face a fierce fight for the nomination. Four Republicans and one Democrat have already announced plans to run for the House seat, and at least two more Republicans are expected to enter the race.

And he’d have to contend with the baggage of millions in attacks launched against him last cycle and dissatisfaction with Congress among Americans nationwide, as his opponents would likely try to paint him as an entrenched Washington politician.

But Rehberg indicated he wouldn’t run away from his 12 years in office, and that his seniority would in fact be an asset. He told the Gazette he’d expect to get a House Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship, if Republicans keep the majority.

Rehberg noted the nomination of the exiting Baucus as ambassador to China, and Daines’s run for Senate could leave Montana lacking clout in Congress, where seniority can be crucial.

“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 also suggested he’d be well-poised to tackle issues with ObamaCare.

“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.”

Rehberg is now opening a Burger King franchise in the state with family members and said he hopes to build three more in Montana this year. He’s also working for D.C.-based Mercury Public Affairs.

For now, he told the Gazette he’s content to focus on his business and feels no rush to make a decision. Montana’s filing period closes on March 10.

“I have an opportunity to think about it,” Rehberg said. “It’s not as critical for me to get started as early as [other candidates]. 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.”

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