Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale entered the race against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester on July 31. He isn't the top-tier candidate Republicans had been hoping for -- their two top contenders opted out of the race, one to join the Trump administration and one (probably) to run for governor in 2020.
But Rosendale is at least a serious candidate, probably the best that Republicans could have hoped for at this point, and potentially a unity candidate who can avoid the GOP civil war that has broken out in primaries in so many other Senate races.
Immediately after Rosendale's entry into the race, the Club for Growth endorsed him. And despite Rosendale's stated support for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (in contrast to at least one of his primary opponents), even the more unruly and anti-establishment Senate Conservatives Fund has gotten behind him as well.
Ken Cuccinelli, the fund's president, sent an endorsement and fundraising pitch to supporters today, promising to bundle their small contributions and send all funds directly to Rosendale. In his pitch, the former Virginia attorney general argued that President Trump carried the state by 20 points and that the Democratic incumbent, Jon Tester, is, therefore, ripe for the picking.
Cuccinelli's email runs as follows:
I'm proud to announce our endorsement of Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale for the U.S. Senate against Senator Jon Tester.
Senator Tester is a liberal Democrat who wants Montana voters to think he's a centrist, but his record tells a completely different story. He's voted for gun control, taxpayer-funded abortions, Obamacare, higher taxes, budget-busting spending, and job-killing regulations.
That's why we need to replace Jon Tester with Matt Rosendale, a proven conservative who will fight for our principles and values.
Matt is a rancher, a businessman, and a proven leader. He led the fight against Medicaid expansion in Montana, he fought to stop pork-barrel projects in the state, and he stood up to his own party to protect private property rights from eminent domain.
Matt Rosendale is a full-spectrum conservative that we can count on to support and defend the Constitution....This race gives us another opportunity to build a conservative Senate by replacing a liberal Democrat with a conservative Republican.
If Republican enemies unite to throw in behind Rosendale, it won't be the first time. In 2014, the Chamber of Commerce and the SCF both backed state Sen. Joni Ernst in a crowded Iowa primary (the Club for Growth kept its powder dry). Ernst won an impressive primary victory, followed by a much bigger than expected general election win.