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Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale withdraws from Senate race days after announcing campaign

Less than a week after announcing his run for Senate, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) is withdrawing from the race, citing former president Donald Trump’s decision to endorse his opponent.

“The day I announced, President Trump then announced that he was endorsing a different candidate,” Rosendale said in a statement on Thursday announcing his decision to exit the race. “I have long been a supporter of the President, and remain so. But I have been forced to calculate what my chances of success would be with Trump supporting my opponent.”

“With Trump endorsing my opponent and the lack of resources, the hill was just too steep” to continue the campaign, Rosendale’s statement said.

Rosendale announced his decision to run for Senate in Montana last Friday, sparking a competitive Republican primary in the state. But when Rosendale announced, several high-profile Republicans had already rallied behind another candidate, former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, to unseat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

In the launch of his campaign, Rosendale sought to cast himself as a candidate opposed to the Washington establishment. And he also pitched himself as the candidate in the race with the closest ties to Trump, saying in a campaign video that he “voted in support of President Trump’s agenda every single time” and that he “stood with President Trump and voted against the electors” on Jan. 6, 2021.

But just hours after Rosendale announced his candidacy, Trump endorsed Sheehy in the 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 wrote on Truth Social in his endorsement of Sheehy. “But in this instance, Tim is the candidate who is currently best-positioned to DEFEAT … Tester, and Regain the Republican Majority in the United States Senate.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who holds significant influence as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, had also backed Sheehy in the race. Rosendale said in his statement on Thursday that he spoke with Daines earlier this week “and we both agreed that this is the best path forward for Republicans to regain the majority in the U.S. Senate.

The Republican Senate primary is set for June 4.

It’s not clear whether Rosendale will seek another term representing Montana’s 2nd Congressional District. The field of candidates running in his district — particularly within the Republican primary — is crowded. Prominent names in the race include Kenneth Bogner, the president pro tempore of the Montana Senate, and Troy Downing, Montana’s state auditor.

Hayden Godfrey contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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