A fifth-generation Montana resident and rancher, Denny Rehberg has served six terms in the House of Representatives as Montana’s only congressman. A small business owner who has spent the majority of his life working his family’s ranch, he knows first hand the problems faced by Montana’s small business owners and agriculture producers. His ranch is home to more than 600 head of cattle and 600 cashmere goats.
Rehberg’s political career began while he was in high school and college when he worked as an intern in the Montana State Legislature in Missoula. He later became a legislative assistant to Montana Congressman Ron Marlenee. Rehberg won his first election to Montana’s House of Representatives in 1984 where he helped to balance the state budget without raising taxes. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor by Montana Governor Stan Stephens and in 1992 was elected to a full term. As Lieutenant Governor, Denny made a commitment to regularly visit all 56 counties in Montana and bring government to a local level. He has maintained this promise as congressman.
Rehberg was elected as US Congressman in 2000 and immediately sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution. He still continues to fight for spending reform and the banning of earmarks. His fiscal leadership earned Denny a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee – the only freshman member to do so.
Denny Rehberg has now stated his intention to be the Republican opponent of Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester. According to a Rasmussen Report on April 2, 2012, Rehberg currently leads Tester by a margin of 47% to 44%. This is the sixth poll to show Rehberg leading.
Tester is under continuous fire over his record for having supported Barack Obama’s agenda 96% of the time. Known as the lobbying industry’s favorite senator, Tester’s 2012 total is approximately $300,000 from various lobbyists. He is now the top recipient of K Street dollars, in addition to ranking second in the Senate for donations received from commercial banks, third from credit card companies and 10th from investment banks. Add in the real estate industry’s contributions and Tester’s 2012 bounty total tops out at $875,000 – so far.
Receiving an earlier endorsement by the Tea Party, Rehberg now finds himself in hot water with the organization due to the fact he voted against the budget proposal put forth by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Eric Olsen is co-founder of Montana Shrugged, a Tea Party group. Olsen say the group is now concerned as to whether or not Rehberg’s conservative values may have toppled a bit. “I think he’s trying to vote for a political election now, instead of voting with his heart.”
Rehberg counters by saying, “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a Republican plan or a Democrat plan. What matters is whether or not the plan is right for Montana. This budget – the first we have even considered in two years – has a lot of good things in it I fully support, among them simplifying the tax code and reducing non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels. But there are still too many unanswered questions with regard to Medicare reform and I simply won’t support any plan until I know for a fact that Montana’s seniors will be protected.”
Historically, Montana has voted for the Democratic presidential candidates on two occasions since 1948. In 2008, John McCain won out over Obama by 50 to 47%. Rehberg now faces the task of keeping his base happy while he endeavors to win over conservative Democrats and independents who backed Obama.
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