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The Billings Gazette - Lindeen To Challenge Rehberg For House

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Lindeen To Challenge Rehberg For House

Of The Gazette Staff

State Rep. Monica Lindeen, D-Huntley, said Tuesday evening she is running for the U.S. House seat now occupied by Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont.

Lindeen confirmed her official announcement will come next Wednesday in Billings.

"The answer is yes," Lindeen said, "This is the right time, I'm the right candidate and the state needs someone like me now (in Congress)."

She is the first Democrat to announce a challenge to Rehberg, who is serving his third term in the U.S. House.

Lindeen is a four-term member of the Montana House of Representatives. She chairs the Education Funding Select Committee in the House and is a member of the interim committee working to find a state funding formula for Montana schools K-12.

Lindeen said she has proven leadership skills and a reputation for getting things done.

"I am prepared to do that on the national level," she said. "What is going on there disturbs me."

She said the partisan bickering and the unwillingness to do what is right for the country motivated her to run. She said the federal budget and national debt are detrimental to youth and the future of the country.

"I absolutely love this state," she said. "We began a business and raised a family here and it has been incredible serving in the Legislature."

Lindeen, 43, ran for the Legislature three times before winning in a suburban-rural district. Her current House District 43 runs through four counties from Huntley to the city limits of Miles City.

A business entrepreneur, Lindeen and family members started Montana Communications Network in May 1995; when they sold the business five years later it was the state's largest Internet service provider.

A native of Utah who moved to Montana in 1973, Lindeen graduated from Shepherd High School and earned a bachelor's degree in English and history from Montana State University-Billings. She has completed course work for a master's degree.

She served four years as vice chair of the Montana Democratic Party and was House minority whip in the 2003 session.

Rehberg won a contentious battle for the House seat in 2000 over Nancy Keenan, the then-superintendent of public instruction. In 2002 and 2004, he defeated Democrats Steve Kelly and Tracy Velazquez by margins of 2-1.

A Montana Lee Newspapers poll in late May in a trial match up between Rehberg and Lindeen, then a potential challenger, showed Rehberg with a 58 to 24 percent margin with 18 percent undecided. The poll had margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The same poll gave Rehberg a 62 percent approval rating for his job performance.

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