Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Rosendale works to keep Montana's new eastern district under Republican control

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Matt Rosendale campaigns in Whitefish, MT, November 2, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet
Montana Public Radio
Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Matt Rosendale campaigns in Whitefish, MT, November 2, 2018.

For the first time in about three decades, Montana is sending two representatives to Congress – and Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale is hoping to continue his party’s hold on Montana’s newly created eastern district.

Rosendale has been the state’s sole member in the U.S. House since 2020.

Before that, he served four years as Montana’s State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner, and served in the Montana Legislature. In 2018 he was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, but lost to Democrat Jon Tester, despite the endorsement of and campaign appearances by then-President Donald Trump.

Rosendale is now seeking a second term in Congress. He’ll face Democrat Penny Ronning, independent Gary Buchanan and Libertarian Sam Rankin in the Nov. 8 midterms. In defending the seat, Rosendale has raised well over $1.5 million as of the end of June, more than Buchanan and Ronning combined.

Rosendale says his re-election is about advancing the Republican agenda: lower inflation with increased fuel production and decreased federal spending and taking care of the threat on the southern border.

“By securing that border we can reduce the fentanyl streaming into the country, the methamphetamine and stop all the human trafficking that’s taking place,” he said.

Rosendale says the way to secure the border is the “remain in Mexico policy,” a Trump-era program that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending. To that end, Rosendale introduced legislation making the policy permanent.

On the inflation front, Rosendale says he and his fellow party members are working to lower inflation with lower energy prices and lower government spending.

“Republicans have introduced 8 bills to increase oil and gas production and to make it easier to permit pipelines to start to bring down the cost of energy,” he said.

Rosendale adds that these high energy prices are touching every aspect of life in Montana, “whether we’re talking about filling the car up, driving the extra miles to go visit family or just getting to work every day.”

He says the other focus for fighting inflation is to stop what he calls the out-of-control spending in Washington

“Five trillion dollars additional over what was already budgeted for all of the mandatory programs and so we have to reduce that spending,” he said.

Rosendale’s votes this session have been a fairly consistent “no” on federal spending. He voted no Sept. 30 on the continuing appropriations bill funding the government through mid-December. He was also a no on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, National Defense Authorization Act and the Infrastructure and Jobs Act that Sen. Jon Tester helped to craft, which included funding for the Milk River Project along the Montana Hi-Line.

Rosendale does have the reputation of a no vote in the Democrat-controlled House.

Over 68 votes held in 2022 and posted by Vote Smart, a nonprofit non- partisan candidate research organization, Rosendale voted no 87% of the time, including the Respect for Marriage Act, which would provide statutory protection to same-sex and interracial marriage, and he was one of 3 House Republicans who voted against a bill supporting the people of Ukraine.

In the prominent election issue of reproductive rights, Rosendale says he is pro life – he’s voted against the Right to Contraception Act, the Women’s Health Protection Act and Ensuring Access to Abortion Act. He agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson that overturned federal abortion rights under Roe v Wade and turned abortion back to the states.

“Montana now has the authority over these issues and puts it much closer to the people that are going to be impacted by it and to their legislators,” he said, “and that is exactly where it belongs.”

Election security is another area Rosendale believes belongs under state control.

“There are some states that are having problems with their election integrity, and again, this is something that absolutely has to be addressed at the state level,” he said

During the Electoral College Vote certification on January 6, 2021 Rosendale voted against certifying the votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The Washington Post recently reported a large number of Republican election deniers are on state ballots around the country, but Rosendale says Joe Biden was elected President.

“It was confirmed and I attended his inauguration,” he said.

One place where Rosendale is supportive of federal oversight is on public lands.

“We’ve had that discussion with many people across the state and they want to make sure federal lands remain in federal ownership,” he said. “I embrace that. So my job now is to make sure that we can gain access to it and maintain these properly so we have healthy forests.”

Rosendale says his goals, like his fellow Republicans, are a strong economy, a nation that’s safe, a future built on freedom and a government that’s accountable.

Rosendale won the at-large district in 2020 with 56% of votes over Democrat Kathleen Williams, and easily carried most of the counties in the 2nd District. Whether he can do so again will be determined on Nov. 8.

Copyright 2022 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information