GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale Decides to Retire After ‘Defamatory Rumors’

Tom Williams/Getty
Tom Williams/Getty

After his failed Senate bid lasted just six days, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said on Feb. 28 that he would run for re-election to the House. Now, Rosendale has reversed himself once again.

The conservative Republican announced on Friday that he was dropping out of the House race and retiring at the end of this Congress.

Rosendale cited “defamatory rumors” and a “death threat” against him as part of his reasoning for dropping out, saying they had taken a “serious toll on me, and my family.”

Rosendale seemed to be referring to rumors from former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who alleged on a podcast that Rosendale dropped out of the Senate race and was considering resigning from Congress because he “impregnated a 20-year-old staff person.”

GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale Ends Senate Bid One Week After Announcement

Rosendale’s office vehemently denied that claim, saying it was “100% false and defamatory.” Rosendale has been threatening legal action against the former senator, with his attorneys filing a litigation hold notice—essentially a notice to preserve documents.

Rosendale appeared determined to allay the rumors, with his wife saying the rumors were “lies” and were “100% false and are political mudslinging at its worst.”

But nine days after saying he was staying politics, Rosendale appears to be giving it up.

“To me, public service has truly always been about serving, not titles or positions of power. The current attacks have made it impossible for me to focus on my work to serve you,” he said in his statement Friday.

“So, in the best interest of my family and the community, I am withdrawing from the House race and will not be seeking office,” he said in a tweet.

Before dropping out of the Senate race, Rosendale had been teasing his bid for almost a year. But with poor fundraising, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign worked to box him out of the primary, with conservative organizations and Trumpworld allies telling Rosendale they wouldn’t support his candidacy. Rosendale launched his campaign anyway.

The Montana Senate seat is viewed by Republicans as one of their best opportunities to flip a Democrat-held seat. But Senate Republican leadership feared that Rosendale's running could significantly hinder their chances at winning the seat.

Rosendale had already lost to Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) once before and the worry was it would happen again. So, the NRSC quickly got behind Tim Sheehy, a Montana businessman and former Navy SEAL.

The same day Sheehy launched, Trump endorsed him. But Rosendale announced on X that he would stay in the race despite Trump’s decision to back his opponent.

Then, not even a week after his launch, he announced he would be dropping out.

“As everyone knows, I have planned to run for the U.S. Senate and to win both the primary and the general election. However, the day I announced, President Trump then announced he was endorsing a different candidate,” he said.

“By my calculations, with Trump endorsing my opponent and the lack of resources, the hill was just too steep,” he said.

Apparently, the House campaign was too steep as well.

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