Feb 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Leading GOP hardliner spurned by Trump in tough Senate fight

Matt Rosendale with Trump

Photo: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

Former President Trump is kneecapping the Senate hopes of right-wing Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) before they can even get off the ground.

Why it matters: The broader rift between Trump and some of the House Republican hardliners who adopted his scorched-earth tactics to fight GOP leadership is moving beyond the House.

Driving the news: Trump endorsed businessman Tim Sheehy, the establishment favorite to take on Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), in a post on Truth Social.

  • “I also respect Matt Rosendale, and was very happy to Endorse him in the past,” Trump wrote, adding that he would endorse Rosendale if he opted to run for re-election instead.
  • Trump said Sheehy is “currently best-positioned” to defeat Tester – reflecting the thinking of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies.

Zoom in: Rosendale launched his campaign earlier on Friday with a video portraying himself as one of Trump’s staunchest supporters in Congress.

  • “On Jan. 6, 2021, I stood with President Trump and voted against the electors,” Rosendale said – playing up a moment in history most Republicans would rather soon forget.
  • Rosendale also pointed to a 2021 donation Sheehy made to a super PAC supporting Nikki Haley, Trump’s primary opponent.

Flashback: A photo of Rosendale resisting a phone call from Trump went viral during the speaker election last January when he and 19 other House Republicans resisted supporting Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

  • Rosendale ultimately became one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy.

The big picture: Rosendale isn’t the only Republican hardliner facing the ire of Trump and his circle.

  • Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, is in their crosshairs for supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ now-suspended presidential campaign.
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