Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Matt Rosendale Plans to Challenge Tester (Again)

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) got some good news Friday. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) is planning to challenge him for the Senate. This is good news because Rosendale is a member of the Freedom Caucus and one of the most extreme right-wing bomb throwers in the House. Montanans are conservative, but they generally don't like bomb throwers. In fact, they often elect Democrats to statewide office. Rosendale is probably the best opponent Tester could get.

But wait, there is more. Rosendale is the kind of candidate that will get Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) muttering something about "candidate quality" again. Rosendale knows that, but could care less what McConnell thinks or wants. Rosendale even said the race will be decided "by the people across Montana, not Mitch McConnell."

How might a Tester-Rosendale race go? Well, we have some data on that. Rosendale challenged Tester in 2018. Tester won, 50% to 47%.

But Rosendale isn't the GOP nominee yet, and if McConnell has something to say about it, won't be. You know who else has something to say about it? It's the other senator from Montana, Steve Daines (R-MT), who just happens to chair the NRSC this cycle. His job is to win back the Senate and he knows very well that Rosendale is a proven loser. Daines has a different candidate in mind: Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL who now runs an aerial firefighting company. Sheehy is also very rich and could be self-funding. If Sheehy parachutes down to earth and Rosendale jumps in anyway, we will have an extremely bitter and divisive primary, with Donald Trump undoubtedly backing Rosendale and McConnell, Daines, and the NRSC backing Sheehy. Bitter ideological primaries are rarely helpful, especially if the Trumper wins (see: Oz, Mehmet). Money could decide the race, though, as Sheehy will have plenty of it and Rosendale is a poor fundraiser.

Speaking of bitter ideological primaries, there is also one in West Virginia. McConnell and the NRSC want Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) to go man-to-man with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), assuming Manchin runs. The Club for Growth calls Justice a RINO and is backing Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV). The Club is putting $10 million behind Mooney. Justice has more money than Scrooge McDuck so he can see that and raise it $50 million if he has to. West Virginia is a cheap media state, so any company wanting to sell cars or food or shampoo or anything else had better buy up 2024 air time now, before Mooney and Justice buy up the entire year's worth. (V)

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