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Rehberg urges Obama to keep MacKay in U.S. marshal post
U.S. Marshal Dwight MacKay helped start the Violent Offender Task Force.

HELENA - U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., wrote a letter to President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday asking that he reappoint Dwight MacKay as U.S. marshal for Montana.

"Dwight MacKay's original nomination in 2002 was supported by the entire Montana congressional delegation, and he has faithfully and effectively served the people of Montana for nearly seven years," Rehberg said.

Rehberg cited a Nov. 10 Billings Gazette editorial that said MacKay had taken a nonpartisan approach as U.S. marshal. The editorial said if the Obama administration "wants a well-respected, competent leader in this law enforcement post, they ought to keep MacKay on board."

MacKay is a Republican who was recommended for the marshal's post by then-Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.

A former Yellowstone County commissioner and juvenile justice manager, MacKay previously worked as Burns' state director and was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress in 1996.

Over the years, it has been customary in Montana and most states that when a president of another political party takes office, he appoints a U.S. attorney and marshal from his own party instead of retaining the previous appointees. If that happens in this case, Obama would pick Democrats for U.S. marshal and U.S. attorney.

Montana's two Democratic U.S. senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, will recommend people for these two jobs to Obama. As senior senator, Baucus plays the lead role in the recommendation.

"Max will review all applicants with Sen. Tester and decide on the position based on who is most qualified," said Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser.

At least three people have publicly expressed interest in the marshal's job, which pays nearly $108,000 a year.

They are Dennis McCave, who has worked for Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office for 30 years and oversees the Yellowstone County Detention Facility; Ed Tinsley, a Democrat who was defeated for re-election as Lewis and Clark County attorney; and Ron Tussing, the mayor of Billings who recently lost a race as a Democrat for the Public Service Commission.

Tussing previously served as Billings police chief and held

law enforcement posts in Nebraska.