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Rosendale Takes Republican Primary To Challenge Tester

Rep. Matt Rosendale
Corin Cates-Carny
Montana Public Radio
Republican State Auditor Matthew Rosendale gave his primary victory speech to a crowd of roughly 70 people at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in Helena, late Tuesday night. Rosendale will face Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester in the general election

State Auditor Matthew Rosendale is the Republican nominee to take on two-term Democratic Senator Jon Tester this November.

Shortly before midnight Rosendale walked onto a stage in the Radisson Colonial Hotel in Helena, accepting victory and promising to fight for and work alongside President Trump.

Rosendale says it’s time to send President Trump conservative reinforcement in the nation's capital.

“What’s good for our nation is great for Montana,” Rosendale said, to cheers from supporters.

Although Republicans control the executive branch and both chambers of Congress, Rosendale says liberal obstructionists are making it difficult for President Trump to pass his agenda to ‘Make America Great Again.'

Rosendale framed the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tester as a battle for Trump’s agenda.

“Everything is on the line," Rosendale said. "If we let Jon Tester and the liberals gain control of the United States Senate they will undo all the progress we've made. We can’t let that happen. We won’t let that happen.”

Rosendale’s win came with funding help from national Republican groups who spent several million dollars supporting him, and attacking fellow GOP contenders, namely retired Judge Russ Fagg of Billings, who finished second.

The vulnerabilities Republicans exposed in Rosendale during the primary are sure to be amplified by Democrats heading into the November election.

Within minutes of the primary being called for Rosendale, Jon Tester’s campaign attacked him as an East Coast developer who, "uses Montana to boost the outside special interests that are funding his Senate campaign."

Democrats successfully branded Greg Gianforte as an out-of-stater in the governor’s campaign he lost to Steve Bullock in 2016, but in the special election to replace Ryan Zinke in 2017, Gianforte went on to win.

Rosendale, who was born in Maryland, says he doesn’t worry about being branded as an East Coaster.

“If that really ends up being the argument that they use to try and defeat me, again, that will be very easy for me to overcome," Rosendale said. "I’ve already been elected by the people of Montana to serve as the Auditor. I was elected by my colleagues in the [Montana State] Senate to be the Senate Majority Leader.”

Senator Tester’s campaign sent out an email late last night calling Rosedale ‘Maryland Matt’ and saying that he should not be trusted to represent Montanans’ interests in public lands, and veterans and healthcare issues.

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