Speaker Johnson Flips On Key MAGA Senate Endorsement

House Speaker Mike Johnson has strategically decided to withdraw his endorsement of Representative Matt Rosendale in Montana’s primary Senate race. The reversal comes after careful consideration and an assessment of Rosendale’s viability as a candidate against incumbent Senator Jon Tester.

Representative Ryan Zinke confirmed the Speaker’s change of heart, stating that Johnson recognized that Rosendale was a weaker contender than Tester. This development comes amid a brewing GOP conflict in Montana as Rosendale prepares to launch his campaign against former Navy SEAL and political newcomer Tim Sheehy.

Rosendale’s entry into the race has sparked divisions within the Republican Party, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Senate Leadership Fund all opposing his candidacy. Senate Republicans fear that Rosendale’s bid could jeopardize their chances of flipping the seat in a state where former President Donald Trump enjoyed significant support.

It is worth noting that Rosendale previously attempted to unseat Tester in 2018 but was unsuccessful, despite a Trump endorsement and Republican gains in Montana that year. The absence of Trump’s endorsement for Rosendale’s current campaign adds another layer of complexity to the race.

Rosendale’s relationship with Trump has been rocky, notably after he snubbed the former president during last year’s speakership fight. However, Rosendale has since endorsed Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2024, even though he has managed to upset some of Trump’s allies.

The endorsement reversal by Speaker Johnson, a Trump ally, surprised many observers who expected him to support a fellow Republican. Speculation arose that the endorsement may have been contingent on Rosendale’s vote on an emergency Israel aid bill, as Rosendale had previously expressed the need for corresponding budget cuts.

In a statement, Johnson’s communications director clarified that the Speaker remains committed to supporting his House colleagues and friends, including Rosendale, through his leadership PAC. However, Johnson has refrained from making any endorsements in Senate races, emphasizing his focus on growing the House majority.

Rosendale’s aspirations for a more conservative shift within the GOP were revealed during a closed briefing with Republican donors. He expressed the desire for a slight Republican majority in the House after the 2022 midterms, believing that a few influential individuals could steer the party towards a more right-leaning agenda.

As the Montana Senate race intensifies, the contest between Rosendale, Sheehy, and Tester will undoubtedly attract significant attention. The outcome will not only affect the balance of power in the Senate but also serve as a litmus test for the future direction of the Republican Party in Montana and beyond.