Concerned Veterans for America Action is backing Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL, in one of the most high-profile Senate races of the 2024 cycle. Republicans, who are hoping to flip the seat to regain control of the Senate, see Montana’s red leanings as a prime pickup opportunity after the disappointing 2022 midterm elections. The Treasure State voted for then-President Donald Trump by 16 points in 2020.
“As a decorated combat veteran who completed several deployments and countless missions overseas, Tim Sheehy understands the struggles our nation’s heroes face when they come home after serving their country,” Chris Enget, CVA Action senior adviser in Montana, said in a statement first shared with the Washington Examiner. “Unlike Senator Jon Tester, Sheehy won’t be a rubber stamp for President Biden’s failed agenda.”
“We obviously have really wanted to see an upgrade in Montana. Sen. Tester has been very much a hindrance to the things that we see are important for veterans and for the economy both,” added Russ Duerstine, CVA Action’s senior adviser, in an interview. “And even though he originally had supported the Mission Act, veterans and military family members have been impacted negatively by him undercutting access standards and community to care for veterans. And so many of our veterans are just stuck in this, this bureaucratic socialist medical system.”
Former President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan VA Mission Act into law, which scrapped the Choice Program and streamlined the process for access to community providers, in 2018.
CVA Action is the nation’s largest grassroots group dedicated to electing lawmakers who champion policies that will benefit veterans and is backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and the late David Koch. It targeted more than 1,000,000 voters during the 2020 and 2022 election cycle. The group also endorsed former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in the 2024 presidential race earlier this month.
With the early endorsement of Sheehy, the group is hoping once again to mobilize on behalf of the former Navy SEAL, who may face a primary challenge from Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
Establishment Republicans have lined up behind Sheehy, including Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) in hopes of thwarting Rosendale’s anticipated Senate bid.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), along with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) have also endorsed Sheehy.
Republicans have pointed to Tester defeating Rosendale in 2018 as to why Sheehy’s chances of prevailing are higher compared to Rosendale.
“We have a primary race that we really wanted to see who has the best opportunity to defeat Sen. Tester in the fall. We think it’s Tim Sheehy,” Duerstine said. “And he not only has incredible credentials himself, he’s positioned I think, in our mind, to give us the best chance of delivering an upgrade in Montana.”
“I think highly of Rosendale. But honestly, it has a lot to do with the ability to win,” Duerstine further added.
Rosendale is eyeing launching his campaign just before the March 11 candidate filing deadline.
A Democratic super PAC pounced on the internal GOP division by spending millions of dollars hammering Sheehy. More Jobs, Less Government PAC, a pro-Sheehy super PAC, hit back with a six-figure ad buy against the attacks.
“It’s fairly typical. When you can’t argue the facts you try to do things or say things to impugn the character or the capability of somebody. It’s not unusual,” Duerstine said. “We ignore that. We want to point back to the facts. We have a failed economy. We have failed energy policy and we have a failed VA healthcare system. … We’re not going to be distracted by some of the meddling that takes place from the other side of the aisle.”
Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson is also running in the GOP primary but faces little chance of defeating Sheehy.
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