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The lawmaker in charge of helping Republicans win US Senate races was already clear about preferring that Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale stay in the House and out of a primary with declared candidate Tim Sheehy.
Then came Tuesday’s historic vote, in which Rosendale helped to fire Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) as speaker, and a tart-tongued reaction from a home-state colleague, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines.
“I didn’t realize that Matt Rosendale and Nancy Pelosi were in the same prayer group,” Daines (R-Mont.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.
In a statement to Bloomberg Government, Rosendale left unanswered whether he’ll run for Senate and defended the political calculation of his vote to oust McCarthy.
“I cast every vote according to my convictions and I let the politics work itself out,” Rosendale said Tuesday night. “If more people practiced this, I’m certain that Congress would be much more effective, and government would be less intrusive in our lives.”
“In regard to Nancy Pelosi’s prayer life, I understand that she too is a Catholic,” he added.
The move against McCarthy followed the former speaker’s decision to put a bipartisan funding bill on the floor that avoided a government shutdown (Public Law 118-15).
The averted shutdown and speaker ouster came as Rosendale is considering whether to get into the Senate race and perhaps be the one to take on incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D). The candidate Daines and other Republican senators have been backing in that race, Sheehy, is an aerial firefighter and government contractor with personal wealth that could be tapped in a competitive contest.
They include fundraising vehicles for Daines; Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.); Senate Armed Services Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.); and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), both former NRSC chairmen.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) top lieutenants — and Sheehy’s supporters — decried McCarthy’s ouster on Tuesday. Thune said the vote was “really unfortunate.”
“It stinks,” Wicker said. “And it’s not good for the country.”
As for McConnell, “I don’t know what to make of what’s going on in the House,” he said in a hallway interview. Then he put out a statement thanking McCarthy for his service “in what is often a thankless role.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Zach C. Cohen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org