Questions remain about Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Montana Republican largely thought to be weighing a run against first-term Sen. Jon Tester (D).
Rehberg has served on the Appropriations Committee since 2005, but he will play a more powerful role as part of the majority. It’s also unclear whether he might be awarded a chairmanship on one of the three Appropriations subcommittees. Such announcements are expected in the coming days.
“Denny is focused on doing the job the overwhelming majority of Montana voters sent him to Washington to do,” spokesman Jed Link said in response to questions about Rehberg’s Senate prospects in 2012.
Meanwhile, some committee promotions tell a very different story.
In at least one case, a House Republican might use his new status as a launching pad for a 2012 Senate bid. Rep. Connie Mack IV, the son of a former Florida Senator, will serve as the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, where he was previously the ranking member.
A Republican aide confirmed that the Florida Republican walked away from potential slots on the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce committees in favor of the subcommittee chairmanship. There were as many as three Florida slots available on Ways and Means, according to the aide, but such a position likely would not allow for the same visibility as the chairmanship, with which Mack plans to be “very active,” the aide said.
Specifically, Mack will devote considerable time to examining the national security threats posed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a high-profile issue in Florida. The Congressman is set to deliver a speech on the subject at next month’s national Conservative Political Action Conference.
Mack has also made a handful of key hires in recent months suggesting he’s gearing up for a Senate run. In addition to senior adviser David James, a veteran of three Republican Senate campaigns and the recent New York gubernatorial race, Mack is using general consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who worked on both of Mack’s father’s successful Senate bids.
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