A candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana who received an endorsement by former White House strategist Steve Bannon is keeping quiet after Bannon made comments critical of President Trump.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Senate hopeful and state auditor Matt Rosendale said “every endorsement Matt racks up speaks to his strength as a candidate, not the other way around.”
In October, Rosendale was endorsed by Bannon. This week, President Trump said Bannon ”lost his mind” after making disparaging comments in a forthcoming book on the Trump administration. The president’s lawyers have since filed a cease-and-desist letter against Bannon.
Spokesperson Kyle Schmauch won’t say whether Rosendale will keep or drop Bannon’s endorsement. It currently isn’t listed on Rosendale’s website, though it was announced, along a photo of the two men together, on Twitter in October.
Met w/ Steve Bannon a few weeks ago. Thrilled to have earned his support!
I’m running to fight D.C. status quo. Let’s replace Jon Tester. pic.twitter.com/ZmHru8actD
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) October 18, 2017
According to his website, Rosendale has also earned endorsements more than 30 Montana elected officials, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and prominent conservative national groups.
Republican challenger and Kalispell physician Al Olszewski says endorsements from outside interest groups and people like Bannon come with a caveat.
“They’re expecting that you’re going to perform for them if you win an election,” he says.
Olschewski has not received any national endorsements.
“This seat belongs to the Montana people," he says. "Interests outside of the state of Montana should take a backseat to the will of the people of Montana.”
Another Republican challenger, Big Sky businessman Troy Downing, wouldn’t comment on the Bannon endorsement specifically, but his spokesperson said in a statement “there are substantive issues that Montanans are facing which Troy wants to help solve, not be a part of irrelevant drama.”
When asked about the Bannon endorsement, a spokesperson for GOP candidate Russ Fagg didn’t answer and instead touted the former Billings judge's own endorsements, which include former state governors and congressmen.
A spokesperson for the Montana Democratic Party says Rosendale’s “political hopscotch may work on the East Coast, but it shows he’s not looking out for Montana, he’s looking out for his own self-interest.”