Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and current CEO of Bridger Aerospace, announced his campaign to challenge Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, giving GOP leaders a prized recruit in a marquee race but setting up a potential primary clash with a hard-right Republican.
Sheehy’s entrance into the race will be a major test for GOP leaders, who plan to be heavily involved in primaries to boost their preferred candidates, a sharp departure from the hands-off posture of last cycle.
The announcement sets up a potential primary clash with a hard-right Republican, Rep. Matt Rosendale, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who has taken steps towards a run. Rosendale lost to Tester six years ago.
Tester, who represents a deep-red state, is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats of the cycle.
Sheehy is backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, and is also expected to gain the support of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
The NRSC released a statement Tuesday expressing support for Sheehy.
“Tim Sheehy is a decorated veteran, successful businessman, and a great Montanan. I could not be happier that he has decided to enter the Montana Senate race,” NRSC chair Steve Daines said in the statement.
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