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HELENA – Billings real estate broker Sam Rankin on Thursday became the seventh Democrat running for Montana’s open U.S. House seat – the second time in the last two years he’s become a last-minute candidate for the seat.

Rankin, a former chairman of the good-government group Montana Common Cause, ran two years ago as a sort of anti-candidate, vowing to raise no money as he campaigned against what he called excessive money in politics.

In 2010, he filed as a candidate on the last possible day. This year, he filed with two days to spare. The final day for candidates to pay their filing fee for the 2012 elections is Monday.

Rankin, 67, joins an already crowded race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, which is open this year because U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., is running for the U.S. Senate.

Six other Democrats, three Republicans and a Libertarian already are in the race.

The Democrats are state Sen. Kim Gillan of Billings, businesswoman Diane Smith of Whitefish, Missoula City Councilman David Strohmaier, Helena attorney Rob Stutz, contractor Jason Ward of Hardin and state Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman.

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The Republicans are business executive Steve Daines of Bozeman, engineer Eric Brosten of Helena and student Vincent Melkus of Hardin. Libertarian David Kaiser of Victor entered the race on Wednesday.

Rankin finished last in a four-way Democratic primary for the U.S. House in 2010.

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