Trump Backs First-Time Candidate Over Congressman He Once Endorsed

Former President Donald Trump is backing first-time candidate Tim Sheehy in Montana’s Senate race instead of Representative Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican who he once endorsed for the House.

Trump, who is the GOP frontrunner in the 2024 presidential election, has maintained a loyal base of voters in his MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement and has a lot of sway within the Republican Party, which is why GOP candidates seek his endorsement.

Rosendale announced his campaign against Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL, on Friday as they both vie for Democratic Senator Jon Tester’s seat. Hours later, Trump shared his respect for Rosendale, but ultimately declared his endorsement for Sheehy.

“I LOVE MONTANA! Tim Sheehy is an American Hero and highly successful Businessman from the Great State of Montana. He is strongly supported by our incredible Chairman of the NRSC [National Republican Senatorial Committee], Steve Daines, and many other patriotic Senators and Republicans who have endorsed our Campaign to, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social.

Representative Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican, is seen on January 10 in Washington, D.C. Former President Donald Trump is seen on Thursday in Las Vegas. Trump is backing first-time candidate Tim Sheehy in Montana’s Senate…

Samuel Corum/Mario Tama/Getty Images

The former president then said that he would be open to endorsing Rosendale as a House candidate in the future, but not in this Senate race.

“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 posted. “But in this instance, Tim is the candidate who is currently best-positioned to DEFEAT Lazy Jon Tester, and Regain the Republican Majority in the United States Senate.”

Trump praised Sheehy, saying that he is the candidate to beat Tester, who has held his Senate seat since 2007.

“Tim is a Political Outsider, Strong on the Border, the Military/Vets, and our constantly under siege Second Amendment. He will stand tall in the fight against the Radical Left Democrats, who are Destroying our Country. Also, he is far more likely to Defeat Lazy Jon. America First Patriot Tim Sheehy has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” the former president wrote.

With Trump’s support, Rosendale ran for Senate in 2018 when he failed to take Tester’s seat. He then successfully ran for the House in 2020 with Trump’s endorsement and maintained his seat in the 20222 midterm elections.

Minutes after Trump posted his endorsement of Sheehy, Rosendale wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “I love President Trump. But he needs actual fighters in the U.S. Senate to enact his Agenda 47 – and that’s me and not Mitch McConnell’s hand pick, Tim Sheehy.”

He added: “I’m going to win this primary, defeat Jon Tester in November and together we will Make America Great Again!”

Reacting to Trump’s endorsement, Sheehy posted on X, “The people of Montana stand with you and I proudly stand with you! Thank you, Mr. President. Let’s MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Montana Democratic Party senior communications adviser Hannah Rehm told Newsweek via email on Friday: “It’s day one in the battle of the out-of-staters and chaos is front and center. Over the coming months, Montanans are going to see how out of touch Maryland Matt and Transplant Tim are with our state.”

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s and Rosendale’s campaigns via email as well as Sheehy’s campaign via online form for comment. It also reached out to Tester’s office via email for comment.