Montana Primary: Sheehy’s Support for Trump Contrasts with Rosendale’s Distancing from Former President

U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washingt
Sheehy for Congress, AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A contentious primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Montana is brewing, as businessman and former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy has entered the race and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) is also reportedly considering a bid for vulnerable Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) seat.

Sheehy, a combat veteran, announced his candidacy Tuesday, taking aim at Tester, who he said has “lost sight of our Montana values.” 

Tim Sheehy (Tim Sheehy for Senate)

“He’s supporting Biden and Schumer’s liberal agenda 91% of the time and that has brought us record high inflation, a disastrous deficit, skyrocketing energy prices, open borders, and drag queen story time on our military bases.”

Sheehy earned the early support of Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), chairman of the powerful National Republican Senatorial Committee, while also securing influential endorsements from Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). 

“Tim Sheehy is a decorated veteran, successful businessman, and a great Montanan,” Daines said. “I could not be happier that he has decided to enter the Montana Senate race.”

While the three senators are happy to see Sheehy jump in the race, Rosendale expressed dismay in a tweet after his announcement and framed him as the “chosen candidate” of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 

The House Freedom Caucus member is planning to launch a bid in hopes of landing a rematch of his 2018 contest with Tester, Politico reported, which he lost by a narrow margin. But Sheehy marks a potential roadblock for the two-term representative should he decide to run, and further complicating the matter is the courtship of former President Donald Trump for his coveted endorsement. 

Sheehy has already told Montana Talks that he supports Trump’s candidacy, adding, “I support his work to vindicate himself against what these charges — which appear to be incredibly politically motivated.”

Conversely, in March, Politico reported that Rosendale does not intend to make any endorsement and “sidestepped concerns that a rift with Trump could hurt his chances in the state primary” during an interview. Abstaining from endorsing is unlikely to curry Rosendale any favor with Trump.

Then-President Donald Trump (R) listens as then-GOP Senatorial Candidate Matt Rosendale (L) speaks during a “Make America Great Again” rally in Great Falls, Montana, on July 5, 2018. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

As has been the case with numerous primaries, including last year’s Senate races in Ohio, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, the difference in this race could come down to who secures his support.

One source close to the 45th president blasted Rosendale for not endorsing Trump and dubbed Sheehy a “strong America First Conservative.”  

“While career politician Matt Rosendale cowardly kowtows to his anti-MAGA globalist donors and refuses to support Trump in 2024, Tim Sheehy gave a middle finger to the establishment by publicly endorsing Trump for reelection in 2024,” the source told Breitbart News. “Unlike Rosendale, Sheehy is a strong America First conservative and a true political outsider who is already proving that he has the courage to stand up to the swamp in Washington, DC.” 

Another source, who is a MAGA-aligned consultant, also found fault in Rosendale’s failure to come out in support of the Republican frontrunner, considering the MAGA coalition’s work on his 2018 campaign. 

“I find that incredibly disloyal and dishonorable given the fact that President Trump and his entire family and basically the entire MAGA network all worked incredibly hard for him in 2018, many events, many stops,” the consultant said. “I think Trump himself did four rallies out there, and he doesn’t have the loyalty to support President Trump now, and I think that’s a character flaw on his part. 

“We’re in such a time in our country that we don’t have time for lukewarm people,” the source added. “We need people who are prepared for the fight, understand what time it is, and are not going to be sitting on the fence when the going gets tough.”

Rosendale has an interesting history with the 45th president, with the most recent chapter being his shunning of Trump’s phone call during the highly watched speakership election. 

Notably, after Rosendale remained one of few Republican detractors of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on the 14th ballot in January, he waved off Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) late in the evening when she attempted to place him on a phone call with Trump.

“Rosendale shouted repeatedly, ‘don’t you ever do me like that!’” wrote Punchbowl News Managing editor Heather Caygle in a tweet at the time.

The famous image came after Trump had endorsed Rosendale in the midterms and while he was playing a vital role behind the scenes to get McCarthy to the necessary 218 votes.

Rosendale backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, and his support for Cruz was announced days after the senator attacked Trump as a “New York liberal pretending to be a conservative,” CNN reported.

RELATED VIDEO — Rep. Matt Rosendale GOES OFF over What He Calls Congress’s “Nasty Little Secret”:

U.S. House of Representatives

One Republican aide ripped Rosendale in a statement to Breitbart News.

“Matt Rosendale stood with the Never Trumpers in 2016, so it’s no surprise he’s standing with them now. Rosendale is a RINO career politician masquerading as a conservative,” the aide said. 

A Republican proxy war appears to be brewing in Indiana as well, as Breitbart News first reported. Sources say anti-Trump Republican businessman John Rust is mulling a primary challenge to Trump-endorsed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), one of the most conservative members of the House. MAGA Republicans, including Donald Trump, Jr. and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), were quick to double down in their support of Banks amid a report of Rust considering a self-funded campaign. 

“Jim Banks is an incredibly strong America First conservative and it’s a shame that an establishment self-funder is even considering a challenge to him,” Trump told Breitbart News. “But rest assured, MAGA will fight like hell to ensure that Jim is victorious against any big money RINO who decides to run against him.”


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