Matt Rosendale emerged as the victor in Montana’s Republican U.S. Senate primary after an early see-saw battle with former state District Judge Russ Fagg. Early unofficial returns showed Rosendale garnered 33% of the votes to Fagg's 29%.
Rosendale entered the primary as the early favorite with financial backing from outside groups that went on to spend over $3 million dollars in the primary.
Rosendale was the target of an aggressive attack in the primary by fellow Republican Russ Fagg who had touted his own deep Montana roots. It was to draw a contrast to Rosendale, the current state Auditor, who moved to Montana from Maryland. Fagg also ran television ads criticizing Rosendale for opposing the death penalty.
Rosendale predicted now that the primary is over there will be unity within the GOP.
“I’m thrilled that I heard from most of my opponents and I feel very confident based on the feedback that I’m getting from the other candidates and the way that the race was won that we’re going to very quickly unite this party and defeat Jon Tester," he said. "I do not feel there are any deep fissures, if you will, within the party.”
Democrats were quick to pounce on the criticisms raised about the former state lawmaker from Glendive, this includes the special interest money that was spent for his campaign.
Rosendale doubted they will have much traction as he pivots to the November General Election.
"It doesn’t really matter because what folks have found it didn’t really have much impact," he said. "People are aware of them and it’s not going to have much impact going forward."
The other candidates vying for the GOP primary were businessman Troy Downing and orthopedic surgeon Al Olszewki.
Rosendale joins incumbent Democrat Jon Tester, Libertarian Rick Breckenridge, and Green Party candidate Steve Kelly on the November ballot for U.S. Senate.