HELENA — The conservative advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity Action has announced it’s endorsing Tim Sheehy, in the Republican primary for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat.
“It's time for Montana to rally around the candidate who can defeat Jon Tester next November: Tim Sheehy,” said AFP Action-Montana senior advisor Jesse Ramos in a statement. “Sheehy is a decorated veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Unlike Tester, Sheehy won’t be a rubber stamp for Biden. Instead, Sheehy will champion strong communities, educational freedom and fiscal responsibility to create a more prosperous Montana. We intend to put the full weight of AFP Action’s grassroots capabilities behind Sheehy and look forward to a new chapter of leadership in Montana and better future for all Americans in 2024.”
In their statement, AFP Action said they’re now getting involved earlier in primary races, in hopes of nominating “better candidates who are strong advocates for policies that will improve the lives of all Americans.”
This announcement comes as a number of prominent Montana Republicans have put their backing behind Sheehy early in the process. The Gallatin County businessman and Navy veteran already has endorsements from Gov. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, and his campaign has received support from U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, who is chairing the national campaign effort for Senate Republicans.
It also comes before one of the most notable potential Republican Senate candidates has announced whether he’ll join the race. There’s wide speculation that U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale will pursue a Senate run, but a spokesperson said this week that he’s still making his decision. A number of Republican state lawmakers have encouraged him to enter the race.
Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson is also seeking the Republican nomination for Senate.
Americans for Prosperity and AFP Action are part of a nationwide network of conservative groups originally affiliated with the businessmen and activists Charles and David Koch. AFP has a history of involvement in Montana politics, dating back more than a decade. In recent election cycles, AFP Action has made independent expenditures supporting Republican candidates and opposing Democratic candidates for House and Senate.
AFP Action expressed support for Rosendale when he ran against Tester for Senate in 2018, and when he won what was then a statewide House seat in 2020. Rosendale also received an award from AFP last year as a “Pioneer of Prosperity,” for his work in Congress.
This year, AFP has put a focus on electability throughout its nationwide operations. AFP Action has spent on advertising campaigns urging Republican voters to select a presidential nominee other than former President Donald Trump, saying he would be a weaker challenger to President Joe Biden. They’ve also made endorsements in other Republican Senate primaries around the country.