Mike Johnson Backtracks on Plan to Stand Against Senate Republicans

House Speaker Mike Johnson has backtracked on his plan to stand against Senate Republicans in a tense GOP fight brewing in Montana.

Johnson had been expected to endorse Representative Matt Rosendale in Montana’s major Senate race, but “upon reflection, the speaker withdrew his endorsement largely based on the reality that Rosendale is the weaker candidate by far against [Senator Jon] Tester,” Representative Ryan Zinke told Politico on Thursday.

Rosendale is expected to launch his bid against former Navy SEAL and political newcomer Tim Sheehy over the weekend, igniting another civil war within the Republican Party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund have all opposed Rosendale’s candidacy.

The Senate race in Montana will be highly competitive as Republicans seek to flip Senator Jon Tester’s seat in a state where former President Donald Trump won twice by large margins. Rosendale was unsuccessful in his first effort to oust Tester, losing to the Democrat in 2018, despite a Trump endorsement and several GOP gains in Montana that year.

Trump has not yet weighed in on the contest, but the former president has had a rocky relationship with Rosendale, a far-right Republican who famously snubbed Trump when he refused to answer a phone call from the former president during the speakership fight last year. Rosendale has endorsed Trump’s presidential bid for 2024.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson speaks at the U.S. Capitol on February 6, 2024. Johnson has backtracked on supporting Matt Rosendale in Montana.

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This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.