One of the House Republicans who joined with Democrats to vote for the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker last year has his eye on a Senate seat in November.
Montana Republican Matt Rosendale is expected to announce another run for the seat he tried to win in 2018, according to a Wednesday article from The New York Times.
Rosendale could announce a run “as soon as this weekend,” the outlet reported, citing three unnamed sources it described as “people familiar with the deliberations who insisted on anonymity to discuss unannounced plans.”
Rosendale would face a primary against the pick of “more traditional Republican leaders in Washington,” businessman and retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, whom some members of the Republican establishment believe will be more attractive to moderate voters in the deeply red state.
Montana went for former President Donald Trump by more than 16 points in 2020 and by more than 20 points in 2016.
That primary could damage whichever Republican wins it, the Times suggested, and would certainly deplete Republican war chests in a state many believe to be the best chance for a Republican Senate pickup in November.
Three-term Democrat Sen. Jon Tester will face off against whoever prevails in the Republican primary.
Sheehy is supported by more than just establishment types, however. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has also endorsed his Senate run.
Florida’s Matt Gaetz, however, who voted along with Rosendale to end McCarthy’s speakership, has co-hosted “a series of campaign-style events in Montana,” the Times reported.
Sheehy has also endorsed Trump and even campaigned for him in Iowa prior to that state’s January caucuses.
Rosendale lost his 2018 Senate bid to Tester by about 3.5 points, even though then-President Trump campaigned for him in Montana more than once that year.
The former president has yet to endorse any candidate in the Montana Senate race.
Steve Bannon, however, has declared his support for Rosendale, whom the Times described as a “frequent guest” of the former Trump strategist’s podcast, “War Room.”
NBC News reported, however, that Rosendale may not have the support in Trump’s circles to win the primary.
“Obviously there’s this bloodbath that’s about to play out,” a Republican strategist said to be “close to Trump’s team” told NBC. “But I think the undercurrent is that Rosendale has a clear Trump world problem that may reach to the highest level of Trump world as he enters this race.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson — who took the speakership in part because of Rosendale’s vote against McCarthy — had said he planned to endorse Rosendale’s Senate run, but has since told at least one Republican senator and one House member that he will not do so, CNN reported.
“It highlights divisions within the Republican Party,” political analyst Jeremy Johnson of Carroll College in Helena, Montana, told The Associated Press. “Certainly, they’ll both be spending money in the primary campaign.
“If it gets really negative, that’s certainly a benefit for the Democratic candidate,” he added.