Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) is throwing his support behind businessman and former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy in his bid to unseat Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) as Republicans attempt to clear the primary field in hopes of boosting their candidate in the general election.
Gianforte announced the endorsement in a statement released by Sheehy’s campaign, which launched on Tuesday. As Sheehy made his bid official, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) is still deciding whether he’ll throw his hat in the ring. While Sheehy has the backing of most of the establishment wing, including from Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in his capacity as the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, Rosendale has the support of the well-funded Club for Growth despite not being in the race yet.
“Tim Sheehy is a good friend, and I’m glad he decided to run for the U.S. Senate,” Gianforte said in a statement. “Tim’s business experience and commitment to public service is what we need in Washington. I know that Tim Sheehy will serve Montana well in the U.S. Senate, and he has my full support.”
Tester’s decision to run for a fourth term was a major win for Democrats, giving the party a fighting chance in a state Trump carried by over 16 points in 2020. Republicans view the seat as within their reach given how red the state is and are trying to dissuade Rosendale from throwing his hat in the ring and potentially weakening Sheehy as a general election candidate. They also worry that Rosendale cannot win statewide, as evidenced by his 2018 loss to Tester.
Daines, who endorsed Sheehy shortly after announcing his candidacy after lobbying him to get in the race for months, told Politico this week that he was encouraging Rosendale to stay in the House “to build seniority … and help Republicans hold their majority.”
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