Sheehy Wins Montana GOP Senate Primary

Trump-endorsed first-time candidate overcomes rocky spring to take on popular, three-term Democrat and deep red state.

BILLINGS, Mont.—Tim Sheehy has survived late-campaign turbulence to win the Montana Republican U.S. Senate primary and will square off in November’s general election against three-term Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Mr. Sheehy, 38, a first-time candidate, was up by 58 percentage points when the Associated Press called the June 4 GOP primary contest. Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson, 72, finished second.

The race was not projected to be competitive after President Donald Trump endorsed Mr. Sheehy in April, prompting Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) to withdraw from the race, and making the former Navy SEAL the clear frontrunner.

But it’s been a rocky spring for the first-time candidate, with questions surfacing about his Minnesota upbringing, military service, and business dealings that have drawn lawsuits from former employees of his aerial firefighting and surveillance company.

But that was not on the radar June 4 as Mr. Sheehy, a rancher endorsed by President Donald Trump, overcame the disruption to secure the party nod and take on Mr. Tester in the general election.

Mr. Tester, who easily swept past a nominal primary challenger, has dodged daunting odds to be elected to the U.S. Senate three times in deep-red Montana.

Related Story

Montana GOP Senate Front-Runner’s Campaign Rides Turbulence as Voters Head to Polls

And he’ll have plenty of resources to defend his seat. According to Mr. Tester’s May 22 filing with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), he has raised more than $36.6 million and spent little of it in anticipation of a rigorous general election race. His campaign is being aided by national donors as Democrats desperately fight to retain the seat.

As of May 22, Mr. Sheehy’s campaign reported raising $10.4 million. Some of that money, and more if needed, is being self-funded by Mr. Sheehy.

Unseating Mr. Tester is among the Republican National Committee’s and Republican National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s top 2024 goals.

There are 34 U.S. Senate seats on Nov. 5 ballots, including 20 held by Democrats, three by independents, and 11 by Republicans.

Of the 20 seats held by Democrats, at least eight are in states defined as “competitive” by election-rating services such as Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections. Three Senate Democrats are in states won by President Trump in 2020: West Virginia, Ohio, and Montana.

Therefore, Republicans are confident they can gain control of the chamber in 2025 now led by Democrats, 51-49.

Defeating Mr. Tester in Montana is key to that aspiration, but despite the state’s ruby-red lean, it won’t be easy.

A third-generation rancher regarded as a moderate with a 61-percent favorable rating among state voters, Mr. Tester was reelected to a third term in 2018 by the same voters who elected President Trump in 2016 and voted for him in 2020 when Mr. Trump won Montana in 2020 by 100,000 votes.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Inside Elections, and the American Enterprise Institute rate the Tester-vs.-Sheehy race a “toss-up,” and Cook Political Report classifies it as “lean democrat.”

There are several aging polls that show Mr. Sheehy is a viable challenger in a tight contest against Mr. Tester.

The latest documented by FiveThirtyEight is a March 26-29 survey of 503 likely voters by J.L. Partners that showed Mr. Sheehy with a 3-percentage point lead over Mr. Tester, 48 percent to 45 percent.

A Feb. 26 to March 2 canvass of 1,000 Republican voters by Emerson College indicated Mr. Tester had a marginal advantage, 44 percent to Mr. Sheehy’s 42.4 percent.

Previous polls had Mr. Tester ahead anywhere from 4 to 10 percentage points.

Mr. Johnson, 72, a 40-year veteran of Montana politics, declared his candidacy in October and only gained traction in its later stages as questions about Sheehy’s past and business practice surfaced. He reported raising just $43,000 on his campaign’s May 22 FEC filing.

If Mr. Sheehy is elected, it would mark the first time in more than a century that Montana has sent two Republicans to the Senate.

Montana voters have sent 14 Democrats to the U.S. Senate, compared to just five Republicans, since 1900.

Democrats anticipated Mr. Sheehy would survive the late turbulence in this campaign. Not only are Mr. Tester’s coffers larded with nearly $37 million, but the state Democrat Party has been steadily pounding away at Sheehy for months

The state party has already dedicated a website to Mr. Sheehy. The Montana Outdoor Values Action Fund, the political action committee of Montana Conservation Voters, has just launched a seven-figure ad that claims he would restrict recreational access to public lands.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

Running For Office? Conservative Campaign Consulting – Election Day Strategies!