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Government & Politics

Top Land Official Under Trump Prepares For Montana Congressional Run

Ryan Zinke speaks at a podium with the vice presidential seal while wearing a black cowboy hat. A banner behind him reads "America First policies" and there's a Montana flag next to him.
Jackie Yamanaka/YPR
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U.S. Interior Secretary and former Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke

Former U.S. Interior Secretary and Montana U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke may be among the candidates to run for Montana’s new congressional seat.

A filing made with the Federal Election Commission Thursday shows Zinke is considering a run as a Republican for Montana’s second congressional district. He has not yet filed a statement of candidacy.

Results from the 2020 census released this week show Montana has a large enough population to support two U.S. representatives in 2023. The new district's boundaries have not been set.

Zinke has held Montana's at-large House seat twice, beating competitors in 2014 and 2016 by more than 15 percentage points.

In 2014, Zinke took 55% of the vote over Democratic candidate John Lewis' 40% and Libertarian Mike Fellows' 4%. As an incumbent in 2016, Zinke beat Democratic candidate Denise Juneau 56% to 40%, with Libertarian Rick Breckenridge taking 3% of votes.

He left Montana in 2017 to serve former President Donald Trump as Secretary of the Interior, a position he resigned from in 2018 amid allegations of ethics violations.

Zinke is registered to vote in Flathead County, according to Montana Secretary of State records. A representative for Zinke could not immediately be reached for comment.

Republican Representative Matt Rosendale currently holds Montana’s sole U.S. House seat.

A spokesperson for Rosendale says the representative is happy that there is excitement for a second district in the state.

When asked for comment about Zinke’s potential candidacy, Montana Republican Party Chairman Don Kaltschmidt wrote, “The Montana Republican Party continues to focus on building on our momentum from last year's historic election in which we won every statewide race on the ballot by significant margins. Montana will once again be in the National spotlight as our new Congressional seat will be a battleground for the majority of the U.S. House, and the Montana Republican Party will put together another successful operation that will retire Speaker Pelosi once and for all."

The Montana Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Sandi Luckey Thursday: “Ryan Zinke’s clownish corruption was so bad that he got fired by Donald Trump. He embarrassed Montana by gutting public lands in order to reward his special interest allies. Montanans will reject his latest bid to climb the political ladder in favor of a responsible Democratic leader who puts our values ahead of the lobbyists who packed Zinke’s offices in Washington D.C.”