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Biography Denny Rehberg

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Denny Rehberg Denny Rehberg
Denny Rehberg
American politician and member of the Republican Party.


Denny Rehberg Biography

ENG: Dennis Ray "Denny" Rehberg (born October 5, 1955) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party. He served as the Lieutenant Governor of Montana from 1991 to 1997 and as the U.S. Representative for Montana's At-large congressional district from 2001 to 2013. Rehberg was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in in 1996 and 2012, losing to Max Baucus 50% to 45% and to Jon Tester 49% to 45%, respectively.


Early life, education, and ranching career

Rehberg was born in Billings, Montana, the son of Patricia Rae (née Cooley) and Jack Dennis Rehberg. His ancestry includes German, Irish, and Scottish. He attended Billings West High School and Montana State University before transferring to Washington State University where he earned his BA in public administration.

From 1996 to 2001, Rehberg managed the Rehberg Ranch near Billings. He oversaw a herd of 500 cattle and 600 cashmere goats. Since being elected to congress, Rehberg has given up ranching, citing the difficulty of managing a herd whilst travelling between Montana and Washington D.C.


Early political career - Staffer

In 1977 he began working as an intern in the Montana State Senate, and two years later he joined the Washington, D.C. staff of Montana U.S. Congressman Ron Marlenee as a legislative assistant. In 1982, Rehberg returned to farming, until running for the State House in 1984.


Montana legislature

Rehberg was elected then to the Montana State House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991, where he served three terms. In the legislature, he considered himself to be a fiscal conservative, and he advocated balancing the state budget without any tax increases. He was the only freshman member to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.


Lieutenant Governor

In July 1991, Rehberg was appointed Lieutenant Governor by Governor Stan Stephens. He was subsequently elected to a full term in 1992.

As Lieutenant Governor, Rehberg sought to bring government back to the local level by traveling to all 56 counties every year. He chaired the Drought Advisory Committee and the Task Force credited with reforming Worker’s Compensation, the Montana Rural Development Council, and several health care initiatives. He was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by fellow Republican Judy Martz.


1996 U.S. Senate election

He ran for a seat in the United States Senate against incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Max Baucus, but lost, 50%-45%.


U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - 2000

Incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Rick Hill of Montana's At-large congressional district decided to retire after two terms in 2000. Rehberg decided to run and won the Republican primary with 74% of the vote. In the general election, he defeated Democratic State School Superintendent Nancy Keenan 52%-46%.



He won re-election to a second term with 65%, against Steven Dickman Kelly.



He won re-election against Tracy Velazquez to a third term with 64%.



He won re-election to a fourth term against Democratic State Representative Monica Lindeen 59%-39%.



He won re-election to a fifth term against Democratic State Representative John Driscoll 64%-32%.



He won re-election to a sixth term against Democrat Dennis McDonald 60%-33%.



He lost the election for U.S. Senate, against Senator Jon Tester (D), removing Rehberg from Holding a political office.


2012 U.S. Senate election

On February 6, 2011, Rehberg announced that he would challenge Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) in 2012. The outcome of the race was expected to have a significant impact on which party controls the United States Senate during the 113th Congress.

According to Salon, it was a "race that pundits are saying could be a tough challenge for Tester." Political Scientist Larry Sabato predicted a narrow Rehberg victory, pointing out that Rehberg had led in 10 of 13 recent polls. However, Tester eventually defeated Rehberg, 48.7% – 44.8%.


Personal life

Rehberg married his high school sweetheart, Jan, a water attorney who represents farmers and ranchers. They have been married for over 25 years and have three children, A.J., Katie, and Elsie.



With a net worth of between $6.5 and $54 million, Rehberg is the fourteenth-richest U.S. Representative in the House. However, on May 1, 2011, he told an audience member at a town hall meeting that he was "struggling like everyone else."


Boating accident

On the night of Thursday, August 27, 2009, while in the area for a series of town hall forums on healthcare, Rehberg was a passenger in a boating accident near Bigfork, MT on Flathead Lake. Montana State Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus was driving the boat.

Rehberg, Barkus and his wife Kathy, and two Rehberg aides, Dustin Frost and Kristin Smith, were hospitalized in Kalispell following the accident, which took place sometime between 10pm and midnight. Frost, Rehbeg's then 27 year-old state director in Montana, suffered a brain injury. Frost was in a coma for more than a week. Rehberg sustained a broken ankle and rib fractures.

Law enforcement agents investigated the cause of the accident, including "how fast the boat was going, who was driving, and 'whether alcohol and drugs were involved.'" Barkus "was found to have a blood alcohol content of .16 two hours after the accident. Despite the fact that, according to a witness quoted in the criminal complaint, Barkus had been drinking scotch and wine at a lakeside restaurant that night, Rehberg later said he 'was surprised to learn the results of Greg's blood alcohol test.'" Rehberg released his BAC, measured several hours after the crash, at an alleged .05 percent.

Barkus, ultimately pleaded no contest to a felony criminal endangerment charge. He was given a four-year deferred sentence, probation, paid $4,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine.


Lawsuit against the City of Billings

In July 2010, Rehberg's corporation that has developed a subdivision on his former ranch land sued the City of Billings for calling back firefighters from protecting trees and some scrub brush. The firefighters had to return later to put out the fire after the damage was done.  While the suit was filed in July, Rehberg and his wife did not push forward with litigation, given the political pressures of the 2010 Congressional campaign.

The city of Billings spent nearly $21,000 defending itself against the lawsuit before it was dropped by Rehberg.





January 16, 2013

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