'Answering the Call To Serve': Former Navy Seal Launches Bid To Take Down Montana's Jon Tester

Top GOP recruit Tim Sheehy could face contentious primary

Tim Sheehy (Tim for MT campaign)
June 27, 2023

Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester has a new challenger: Tim Sheehy, a top Republican recruit who served as a Navy SEAL in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sheehy—a Bronze Star with Valor for Heroism in Combat and Purple Heart Medal recipient—launched his candidacy Tuesday, telling Fox News he's "answering the call to serve."

"From inflation to our border to our deficit, America is ready for change. And I think it's time for a new generation of leaders to step up," Sheehy said. "One thing I learned in a foxhole in Afghanistan or in the belly of a submarine, is when the chips are down there's really only one political party, and that's American."

Sheehy's entrance into the race will likely test Senate Republican leaders as they look to avoid another disappointing election cycle come 2024. During last year's races, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) sparred on the party's nominees, with McConnell lamenting poor "candidate quality" as then-committee chair Rick Scott (R., Fla.) opted not to intervene in top primaries. This time around, however, new committee head Steve Daines (R., Mont.) is willing to wade into those races—and the Montana Republican could face his first battle in his home state.

That's because Montana Republican congressman Matt Rosendale, a House Freedom Caucus member, is planning a Senate bid of his own. But Rosendale has run against Tester before, losing to the Democrat in 2018 by roughly 4 percentage points. As a result, some in the party have suggested Rosendale could face the same electability issues that plagued top GOP Senate nominees in 2022. Daines is already touting his support for Sheehy, whom he called a "decorated veteran, successful businessman, and a great Montanan."

"I could not be happier that he has decided to enter the Montana Senate race," Daines said in a Tuesday morning statement.

Prior to his entry in the race, Sheehy "did several deployments overseas" after joining the military "right out of high school." The Republican moved to Montana in 2014 to start a business "after being medically separated from active duty due to wounds being received in Afghanistan," his résumé says. Sheehy is CEO of Bridger Aerospace, an aerial firefighting company that supports "front-line firefighters with world-leading technology and aerial fire suppression systems."

Sheehy on Tuesday said a lack of veterans in Congress motivated him to enter the race.

"We're in one of the lowest participation rates in history of veterans in Congress, and that's a huge problem," he said. "We want to get combat veterans in and those who understand service back to help fix this government and get things working right."