The Republican Senate primary has finally, FINALLY, petered to a conclusion after several long, painful months.
And, frankly, the Montana GOP has selected the worst possible candidate: fake Montanan (and fake rancher) Matt Rosendale.
Should we be surprised? No, considered the GOP was on their third tier set of candidates. The GOP even admitted it to Roll Call several months ago in a story on Rosendale: “If you’re the most well-known in a pack of people that no one knows, does that really make you the guy to watch?”
But all that aside, Rosendale will enter the general election with huge suitcases full of baggage and a bad habit of lying to Montanans that he just can’t seem to quit.
If Montanans aren’t already familiar with the ways Matt Rosendale has misled them over the years, they will be soon enough. Rosendale is a serial campaigner from Maryland who has used his move to Montana as a launching pad to campaign for five different public offices in eight years. During this desperate scramble up the political ladder, Rosendale has repeatedly lied about who he is to Montanans in an attempt to convince them to give him a promotion.
Rosendale evidently decided that pretending to be a rancher would win over the hearts and minds of Montana voters, which is why he has spent the last couple of years talking about his “authentic” rancher experience. Mr. Rosendale has featured ranches in his political ads, talked about PG’ing cows, and written about taking his ranching experience to DC in op-eds. There’s only one problem: Matt Rosendale has never owned any cattle, let alone ranched his land.
His lack of rancher cred isn’t the only thing Rosendale is willing to lie about. Maryland Matt has sworn under penalty of perjury on two separate legal documents that he was a Maryland resident in 2015—the same year he was taking votes in the Montana legislature.
Even if Rosendale could quit his habit of lying to Montanans, Republicans in Big Sky Country are going to have to try and figure out how to convince voters to support a candidate that has never once backed Montana or what our values are. He has championed transferring off our public lands. He voted multiple times against Montana veterans. And not only did he rubber-stamped health care plans that jacked up costs for Montana’s families, but he’s supported terrible policies out of Washington DC that would make it all even worse.
Any hope his out-of-state funders had that Rosendale would prove himself an effective candidate had to be dashed Tuesday night when he eked out a narrow win against a former judge whose candidacy never caught fire and a part-time California resident who was actually brought up on charges of illegally taking game in the middle of the campaign. In that week field, Rosendale barely managed a third of the vote despite an unprecedented amount of money being spent on his candidacy by outside interests.
And the bitterly negative campaign waged by Rosendale and his out-of-state backers will surely diminish what little enthusiasm and good will those who supported Downing, Fagg, and Olszewski might have extended.
Rosendale can sport his spiffy, brand-new Carhartt jacket, and sit outside of someone else’s nice red barn next to someone else’s cows all he likes. But he’ll realize soon enough that it’s going to take more than a costume to convince Montanans to send him to Washington, D.C. this November.