Former president Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Tim Sheehy in the Montana Republican Senate primary, a major boost for the businessman and political outsider.
The endorsement came just hours after Rep. Matt Rosendale (R., Mont.) officially entered the race. Sheehy and Rosendale are both vying to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), who is seen as the most vulnerable incumbent up for reelection this November.
Trump’s endorsement could make the primary a short one. Early polls in the state already showed Sheehy with a lead over Rosendale in a state that Trump won by more than 20 points in 2016, and nearly 16.5 points in 2020.
“Tim Sheehy is an American Hero and highly successful Businessman from the Great State of Montana,” Trump posted on Truth Social, his social media platform. “He is strongly supported by our incredible Chairman of the NRSC, Steve Daines, and many other patriotic Senators and Republicans who have endorsed our Campaign to, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The news is a blow to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) whose super PAC has spent millions of dollars trying to boost Rosendale’s chances of winning in the primary. Widely considered the weaker candidate of the two candidates, Rosendale lost to Tester by nearly four points in 2018.
Sheehy welcomed Trump’s endorsement in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “The people of Montana stand with you and I proudly stand with you! Thank you. Mr. President. Let’s MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Sheehy was also endorsed on Friday by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R.), a major Trump ally. In a video, Noem called Sheehy “the kind of conservative leader Montana needs.”
Rosendale, who raised just $100,000 last quarter, has not enjoyed large support from the Republican Party. His closest allies in Washington, D.C., are considered to be Reps. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) and Ken Buck (R., Colo.). Buck is retiring at the end of the year and has said choosing between voting for President Joe Biden or Trump in November would be a “very difficult decision.”
“I also respect Matt Rosendale, and was very happy to Endorse him in the past – and will Endorse him again in the future should he decide to change course and run for his Congressional Seat,” Trump said.