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Rosendale, Gaetz to tour Montana this weekend; Bannon teases ‘special announcement’

Recent news reports say Rosendale preparing to announce Senate run in coming weeks
Posted at 10:32 AM, Jan 26, 2024

Congressman Matt Rosendale is making several appearances this weekend in Montana alongside Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and right-wing podcast host Steve Bannon teased a possible “very special announcement” with Rosendale next week on his show on Thursday.

The upcoming tour with Gaetz and Rosendale’s appearance Thursday on Bannon’s podcast are the latest developments in one of the major storylines of the 2024 election season so far – if Rosendale will run for U.S. Senate again and face Tim Sheehy in a primary, who is backed by the Steve Daines-chaired National Republican Senatorial Committee and other top Montana Republicans, reports the Daily Montanan.

Rosendale also confirmed the tour with Gaetz on social media last weekend, calling Gaetz “my reliable ally as we battle the uniparty in Washington” and saying it was an honor to host him in Montana.

During the past week, more rumblings have come out of Washington, D.C., that Rosendale’s decision of whether to run for Senate again after he lost to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, in 2018, is imminent, and that it’s likely he will.

A week ago, the Washington Examiner reported Rosendale had told colleagues he was preparing to launch his Senate campaign either in the back half of February or just before the March 11 filing deadline.

Two days later, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported Rosendale would be campaigning with Gaetz this coming weekend, with stops at least in Helena, Townsend and Bozeman.

“The Swamp doesn’t want Rosendale because they know Tim Sheehy will be their pawn. Montana can defeat the corrupt big spenders and open borders politicians. I’ll be there to help, often,” Gaetz told the news outlet.

“Send @MattForMontana to the US Senate!” Gaetz tweeted after the story posted. “I can’t wait to hit the trail with my good friend.”

And Punchbowl News reported Wednesday that Rosendale had been calling House Republicans asking for money for a Senate run and looking at possible vendors and staffers, citing conversations with multiple Republicans, including lawmakers. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., confirmed on the record Rosendale had reached out and that he planned to support him.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, whom Rosendale has been meeting with weekly along with other conservative senators, put a poll on his social media account on Wednesday: “Mitch McConnell’s with Sheehy. I prefer Rosendale. Who do you like in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Montana?”

“Why are @LeaderMcConnell and @NRSC so afraid of having a true conservative in the U.S. Senate? Don’t let Mitch McConnell pick the next Senator from Montana!” Rosendale also tweeted Wednesday.

During the past several months, Rosendale and his team have maintained that the 2nd Congressional District congressman had not decided yet on a Senate race, including in a statement to Punchbowl News on Wednesday.

But Rosendale’s appearance on Bannon’s “War Room” podcast Thursday shed even more light on his possible plans for 2024, including his displeasure with Daines and the NRSC and their conversations going back to November 2022 – including an insinuation that Daines tried to keep Rosendale from running on multiple occasions.

Rosendale confirmed at the end of his appearance that he and Gaetz would be holding “about four or five events” Friday and Saturday, saying there would be “standing room only.”

“Me and Matt Gaetz are gonna go out there and deliver the truth. We’re going to deliver the truth to the people across the state of Montana and they are coming out in droves,” Rosendale said.

“We’re going to have coverage of those events and may have a very special announcement next week with Congressman Rosendale,” Bannon said in closing the segment.

A spokesperson for Rosendale corroborated his remarks made on Bannon’s show and said Rosendale and Gaetz would stop in Bozeman Friday evening, Helena around midday Saturday, Townsend and Joliet Saturday evening.

Earlier in the “War Room” segment, Rosendale and Bannon, who was former President Donald Trump’s first chief strategist in the White House, spent time discussing Daines and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom they both said are the “establishment Republicans” trying to keep Rosendale out of the race.

“Steve Daines himself tried to convince me that I needed to tone it down. We’re going back to Thanksgiving of ’22, so over a year ago. He’s like, ‘You have to tone it down. You cannot be running for the United States Senate and be making the problems that you are in the House of Representatives,’” Rosendale told Bannon.

Rosendale said he responded by saying he was simply doing what the American people wanted, giving them someone who will fight for them.

“And he said to me, ‘Matt, I’ve got billionaires that are going to spend a lot of money against you. What am I supposed to tell them?’” Rosendale continued. “And I said, ‘Steve, you tell them that I’m going to win the primary. I will be the nominee for the United States Senate in Montana; they’d better save their money for the General Election.’”

Rosendale went on to say he think’s those donors are going to “end up supporting a Democrat candidate, Jon Tester.”

“Because guess what, Steve? Those guys don’t care who’s in charge; they are the in-party,” Rosendale said.

He went on to say that Daines and the NRSC had already picked Sheehy long before Rosendale and other members of the Freedom Caucus successfully ousted former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last October. Sheehy declared his candidacy last June.

“Six months prior to that even happening, they had already selected their guy. They have already started grooming him. They had already started looking at his documents, and his corporate statement, and his public statements,” Rosendale said. “This Tim Sheehy, so they could start scrubbing all the DEI proclamations, they could start scrubbing all the ESG proclamations. They could start scrubbing all the, ‘We need to have American troops in Ukraine,’ quotes from his documents.”

Rosendale said last spring, the “establishment” Republicans sent “one of their political foot soldiers” to talk to someone Rosendale said is “very close” to him, and offered him another opportunity not to run.

“Because by then, they had already coalesced, the uniparty, the Deep Staters, had already coalesced around Sheehy, including Daines and the establishment, Mitch McConnell, they had selected their guy. And so they sent it through, third-party information, what is it going to take to keep you out of this race?” he said.

“Once you deny them, that’s when they come in and they start trying to get your vendors, and they start offering your vendors money so that they’ll leave,” Rosendale said. “They start going after your contributors so that your contributors won’t support you, and they make up all kinds of different storylines to try and choke you out.”

Bannon responded by saying that “the patriots in Montana are not going to tolerate a Mitch McConnell clone” and called Daines “an enemy of MAGA.”

The NRSC and Sheehy’s campaign did not immediately respond with answers to questions from the Daily Montanan about the interview Thursday afternoon.

But Sheehy and the NRSC launched a new advertising campaign Thursday, according to AdImpact, an organization that tracks political advertising and spending. Sheehy’s advertising and social media campaign has focused almost entirely on attacking Tester and supporting Trump.

“President Trump and I will protect our homeland, rebuild our military, and secure our border,” Sheehy said in the new ad.

19th News reported Thursday that a super PAC has recently been testing messaging and advertising that would attack Rosendale, and Sheehy has been pushing to show his alignment with Trump, appearing at the Iowa caucus last week as a surrogate for the former president and again leading candidate.

Two polls in November of likely Montana Republican primary voters, including one commissioned by a super PAC supporting Sheehy, found Sheehy leading Rosendale in a theoretical matchup. Similar polling done earlier last year had found Rosendale leading Sheehy.

Though public Federal Election Commission reports are not yet available for the final quarter of 2023, Fox News reported Sheehy raised $2.45 million in the quarter and had $1.3 million in cash on hand.

Tester’s campaign said Wednesday he raised $5.5 million in the fourth quarter. At the end of the third quarter, Tester’s campaign reported having $13 million in cash on hand.

Brad Johnson, the former Public Service Commission chair and secretary of state, has also declared his candidacy in the U.S. Senate Republican primary.