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Elsie Arntzen, the state’s superintendent, declares her candidacy for Congress



Helena, Montana – Elsie Arntzen, the superintendent of public instruction for Montana, made a surprise announcement on Monday morning that she had formed an exploratory committee to run for Congress in the state’s second district.

Arntzen filed her paperwork to run for the state’s eastern district on Monday, but she said that she wouldn’t do so unless Republican incumbent Matt Rosendale also declared his intention to run for the Senate.

“We have been fortunate to have rock-solid conservative representation in Rep. Rosendale; Arntzen is committed to building upon that legacy should Rosendale toss his hat in the ring for US Senate,” said Sam Rubino, Spokesman for the Arntzen exploratory committee. “Should Rosendale seek re-election to the House, the Arntzen exploratory committee will cease operations, return each & every nickel donated to the committee, and will fully back the Rosendale re-election bid.”

Republican Arntzen, a former state lawmaker, gained reelection to her position as the state’s top education official in 2020, defeating Democrat Melissa Romano by more than 8% of the vote. She previously represented portions of Billings in the Montana House and Senate.

Arntzen has been in charge of the state’s public school system, which employs roughly 150,000 people. She has spoken in favor of school choice and local sovereignty over education.

She fought with then-Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in 2020 over reopening strategies and COVID-19 relief funding.

Speculation is rampant that Rosendale, who was elected to Congress in 2020 after serving as the state auditor, will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Jon Tester in 2024. This is why Arntzen made his statement at the same time. Although Rosendale hasn’t made his plans official, he has been raising money and touring the state.

A rancher and businessman named Rosendale relocated to Montana from Maryland in 2002. In 2014 and 2018, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, falling short to Tester by less than 4 percentage points. He defeated Democrat Kathleen Williams by more than 11 percentage points in the race for the House seat left vacant by Governor Greg Gianforte in 2020.

Strongly conservative and a devoted supporter of former president Donald Trump, Rosendale ran for the Senate and the House in the most recent elections. On January 6, hours after a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, he was one of the 147 Republicans who protested to confirm Biden’s electoral college victory.

Since taking office, Rosendale has opposed President Joe Biden’s policies on subjects including infrastructure, voting rights, COVID-19 relief, and immigration.

Recent news about Rosendale’s holding of an event outside of his district, in Kalispell, has fueled rumors that he might be considering a run for the Senate.

The eastern two-thirds of Montana, including Billings, Great Falls, and Helena, are covered by the second congressional district. It is often regarded as a Republican stronghold.

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