The Capitol is abuzz following the news that Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg is planning announce his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Franke Wilmer, D-Bozeman, confirmed Tuesday that she plans to seek Rehberg’s House seat.
Bozeman businessman Steve Daines, the only Republican to officially announce his intent to run for the Senate, is expected to announce on Thursday that he’s stepping out of Rehberg’s way in order to pursue the House instead.
No others have officially announced their plans, but here are some of the names floating around the Capitol for possible 2012 U.S. House bids:
Tyler Gernant, D-Missoula
Gernant, a Missoula attorney, mounted a respectable challenge to eventual Democratic Party nominee Dennis McDonald in 2010. Gernant has run a state-wide campaign, so he should have some name recognition among the party faithful. Gernant said he has been considering another run for the House even before the news that Rehberg would likely seek the Senate, but he hasn’t made a decision yet.
“It’s something I’ve thought about, but I’m going to check around before I make a decision,” Gernant said. “A lot of good could come from that seat and I don’t think Montanan’s have gotten much in the past 12 years.”
Sen. Kim Gillan, D-Billings
Gillan is the minority whip for the Senate Democrats. She served in the House from 1997-2004, and was the minority leader in the 2001 Session. Originally from El Cerrito, Calif., Gillan is the Workforce Development Coordinator for Montana State University-Billings.
“I will wait until after the session before I make any decisions," Gillan said. "My constituents sent me up here to work on jobs, business equipment tax reform and I've got my anti-bullying bill. I don't want (constituents) to think I'm distracted from the job they sent me here to do."
Augare was first elected to the House in 2007 and was the Democratic Whip in the 2009 session before running successfully for the Senate in 2010.
Augare said he, too, is thinking about a possible House run.
"I think every politician has considered running for higher office," Augare said. "I've had some conversations about the House, but I really don't know where I'm at at this point in time. There are some opportunities on the horizon."
Livingstone is co-chairman and CEO of Executive Action, a Washington, D.C.-based crisis management firm. He’s considered an internationally recognized terrorism expert, and he’s probably the most intriguing of the possible 2012 contenders.
According to his official bio:
He is a familiar face on the nation's newscasts as a commentator on terrorism, intelligence, and national security issues. A veteran of more than 1300 television appearances, he has appeared on such programs as "Nightline," "Meet the Press," "Today," "The Early Show," "Crossfire," "Newsmaker Sunday," "The Charlie Rose Show," "Hardball," "Dateline," "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer," "The O'Reilly Report," and the evening newscasts on all of the major networks.
According to multiple news reports (<-three separate links there), Livingstone is said s also said to be considering a run for office in Montana. He purchased a house here in 2009 and registered the Internet domain livingstoneforgovernor.com.
Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer's term ends in 2012 and he can’t run again due to term limits.
A spokesman for Livingstone could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
A Montana GOP source said Livingstone’s name is still being tossed around as a possible state-wide or congressional candidate. It’s not clear whether Livingstone would challenge the popular Rehberg, take on Steve Daines in a Republican House primary, or seek the Governor’s seat…if any.
Kerns, a Tea Party Republican, is also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the House or Governor seats. Kerns, who ran unsuccessfully for Speaker of the House this session, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.