State Auditor Matt Rosendale is the most prominent Republican to enter the race to challenge U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, in 2018.
Rosendale, a former state legislator from Glendive, was elected last November to be Montana’s state Insurance and Securities Commissioner.
“I have always said I will serve where Montanans feel I can be the most effective,” he says.
Rosendale has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He says his decision to challenge Tester came after fielding calls from Montanans who are unhappy with the job of the incumbent.
Rosendale says there are Montanans who are upset Tester comes home and acts like a farmer but goes back to Washington and votes like Chuck Schumer, D-NY, the Senate Minority leader.
Rosendale says Tester is responsible for Obamacare in the first place, but then complains about Republican efforts to fix it.
“So that’s sort of like the arsonist trying to blame the fire department because they’re not doing a good enough job,” Rosendale says. “Now to have Jon Tester complain about the job that the Republicans are doing or not doing to clean up the mess.”
Montana Democratic Party spokesman Chris Meagher said in a written statement, “Matt Rosendale has failed at his job as insurance commissioner and has done nothing to keep health care costs down.”
Rosendale is the fourth Republican to jump into the race. This would be his third run at a statewide office in Montana. He was unsuccessful in his bid for the U.S. House in 2014. He joins lesser known candidates state Senator Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, businessman Troy Downing of Big Sky, and businessman Ron Murry of Belgrade. State District Judge Russell Fagg of Billings has formed an exploratory committee to run for office. He announced plans to resign from the bench in October.
Republicans will chose their candidate to challenge Tester on the June primary ballot.