Consultant Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican, on Friday entered the state’s race for Senate, setting off a probably divisive main race in an important nationwide battleground for management of the chamber.

Mr. Rosendale enters the race from the far-right nook of the get together. He’s a staunch opponent of abortion rights who voted to overturn the 2020 election, and he performed a key function final yr in ousting Consultant Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, as Home speaker.

However whereas that résumé would usually make him a darling of Donald J. Trump’s political motion, most of the former president’s loyalists have aligned behind Tim Sheehy, a retired Navy SEAL and founding father of an aerial firefighting firm who started his personal Senate marketing campaign in July.

The winner of the first will face Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat searching for his fourth time period. Mr. Tester has been one of many nation’s hottest senators, in line with polling from Morning Seek the advice of, however is considered as a weak incumbent due to the deep-red nature of a state that Mr. Trump received by 16 share factors in 2020. Montana additionally has a Republican governor and a Republican supermajority within the Legislature.

Earlier than this yr, the one time Mr. Tester had shared a poll with a presidential race was in 2012, when President Barack Obama coasted to a second time period. Mr. Obama misplaced Montana by 13.5 factors that yr, however Mr. Tester received his race by 4 factors.

In Mr. Tester’s 2018 re-election, he defeated Mr. Rosendale, 50.3 p.c to 46.8 p.c. That loss factored into the choice from Republican leaders, together with Senator Steve Daines of Montana, to recruit Mr. Sheehy into this yr’s race. Mr. Daines oversees the get together’s Senate races as chairman of the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee.

Mr. Daines has, in a number of methods, helped Mr. Sheehy win help from Trump loyalists and deep-pocketed Republican donors, two forces contained in the get together which have often labored at cross-purposes lately. Mr. Sheehy has been endorsed by Consultant Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and an excellent PAC backing Mr. Sheehy has collected hundreds of thousands from rich Wall Road executives.

Mr. Sheehy has additionally contributed about $1 million to his personal marketing campaign, which spent greater than $4 million last year and entered this yr with about $1.3 million available.

However whereas Mr. Sheehy is searching for his first elected workplace, Mr. Rosendale is a widely known determine in Montana Republican politics. The Senate race will probably be Mr. Rosendale’s eighth political marketing campaign prior to now 14 years. In his earlier seven contests — 4 federal races, two state legislative campaigns and one for state auditor — Mr. Rosendale received 5 and misplaced two.

Mr. Rosendale has help from key figures in Mr. Trump’s orbit, together with Steve Bannon, the previous Trump White Home strategist, and Consultant Matt Gaetz of Florida. However he’s notably lacking help from Mr. Trump himself and his son Donald Trump Jr., each of whom repeatedly campaigned with Mr. Rosendale throughout the 2018 Senate race.

Mr. Rosendale’s reluctance to endorse Mr. Trump’s 2024 presidential bid instantly helped persuade many Trump loyalists to align behind Mr. Sheehy final yr, and is a key purpose the previous president has not but endorsed a candidate within the Senate race, in line with individuals acquainted with the deliberations. Mr. Rosendale did endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy in December.

These pro-Trump forces confirmed their power on Wednesday when the Home speaker, Mike Johnson, retreated from his plan to endorse Mr. Rosendale after dealing with criticism from high Republican officers and distinguished Trump supporters.

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