Ryan Zinke, a former Republican state legislator from Whitefish, announced his candidacy for the U.S. House on Monday, taking aim at a seat currently occupied by GOP Rep. Steve Daines.
Zinke grew up in Whitefish but made the announcement in Billings, drawing on his family’s eastern Montana roots and his longtime Flathead Valley tenancy as a trope for the statesmanship he’ll bring to Congress.
“All too often we’ve seen our government divided, just look at the recent government shutdown and the impasse between Republicans and Democrats,” Zinke said. “Montana needs someone in Washington who can help to unite the parties, work towards common-sense solutions, and restore our fundamental value of American exceptionalism.”
Having expressed interest in Montana’s lone House seat for months, Zinke’s formal announcement did not come as a surprise. Daines is expected to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus but has not declared candidacy.
In addition to Zinke, three Republicans have indicated they will run for the House seat if Daines decides to run for Senate – former Secretary of State Brad Johnson, of Helena; Sen. Matt Rosendale, of Glendive; and former state senator Corey Stapleton, of Billings.
Still, all eyes are on Daines, the first-term congressman who recently said he’ll wait until 2014 to announce whether he’ll run for the Senate seat being vacated by Baucus, the six-term incumbent who decided to retire in April.
Daines finished the third quarter of the year with $1.14 million in his campaign account, ostensibly as 2014 re-election fund for the U.S. House race.
Zinke, a third-generation Montanan, served as a U.S. Navy SEAL from 1985 to 2008, retiring with the rank of Commander. During his career as a SEAL, he served as a member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six.
He served as a state senator representing Whitefish from 2009 to 2011, and was the lieutenant governor candidate on Neil Livingstone’s unsuccessful bid for governor in 2012.
“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to engage Montana citizens in a discussion about the future of our great country,” Zinke said.
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