Republicans' US Senate flip becomes tougher as Montana contest turns tight (Part-2)

Rosendale is a hard-right Republican and House Freedom Caucus member. He ousted Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy with seven other party members in October.

He supports Trump, voted against 2020 election certification, and cosponsored legislation with Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz to defund Jack Smith's probe into Trump's Mar-a-Lago sensitive document storage. Rosendale and other conservatives proposed a resolution this week proclaiming that Trump did not incite rebellion when his supporters forcefully invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021, following his electoral loss to Joe Biden.

Last June, Sheehy entered the campaign and immediately gained support from GOP officials in Washington and Montana Republicans like Gov. Greg Gianforte and Rep. Ryan Zinke. He created Bridger Aerospace near Bozeman, an aerial firefighting company. Native to Minnesota, he migrated to Montana in 2014.

He is running for office for the first time, thus his voting record cannot be used against him. Sheehy's spokeswoman wouldn't comment on Rosendale's entry.

Tester, a farmer and former state senator, stunned three-term Republican incumbent Conrad Burns to win the Senate in 2006. The Democratic moderate defeated Rosendale, called “Maryland Matt” by Democrats because to his out-of-state roots, by 3.5 percentage points in his following two races.

That contest broke Montana election expenditure records with nearly $60 million from outside groups. Airwaves in Montana are already filled with 2024 race ads.

Montana has shifted right politically since Tester assumed office. Only one Democrat holds statewide office in the Treasure State, where Republicans control the Legislature and governor.

Tester's GOP opponent, former secretary of state Brad Johnson, has previously declared his candidacy. Montana Democrats have coveted a Sheehy-Rosendale showdown for months. They believe the two Republicans will damage one other and their party's status among voters as they fight for the primary.

“Buckle up for the battle of the out-of-staters,” Montana Democratic Party spokesman Hannah Rehm warned Wednesday. Montanans will discover how disconnected Maryland Matt and Transplant Tim are from our state.”