Joan Daoust

Tim Sheehy, A millionaire aerospace and drone entrepreneur vying to unseat Jon Tester for Senate, presents himself as a Montana rancher. But – he grew up in Minnesota and moved to Montana barely a decade ago.

Sheehy is just another millionaire who bought a ranch 2 years ago and uses it more for self-presentation than livelihood. His Little Belt Cattle Company was created by buying up other ranches. He has used his “ranch” to play “cowboy” with other out of state millionaires.  He does not oversee the ranch’s day to day operations and lives in Bozeman.

Sheehy is not the first aspiring politician to “play cowboy” in Montana. Matt Rosendale from Maryland refers to himself as a rancher, despite only owning land which he rents out to real farmers and ranchers. A former real estate developer, he moved to Montana in 2002.

Rosendale is an active MAGA supporter and member of the House’s “Freedom Caucus”, an ultra-right-wing group that has voted against almost all House legislation and forced the ouster of Speaker McCarthy. And now that Rosendale is finally jumping in (he has since quit), it presents a problem for Sheehy, a relatively unknown in Montana who lacks any political experience.

Last year the website of his Bridger Aerospace conveniently scrubbed references to its climate, and environmental, social, and corporate (ESC) policies. A Republican primary might test whether Montana Republicans feel a hard right MAGA candidate or a millionaire “unknown” would best represent their interests.

For Senate Republicans this cycle, recruiting wealthy candidates appears to be a higher priority than finding ones with substantial ties to the states they hope to represent. In Pennsylvania David McCormick has received the blessing of Mitch McConnell despite currently residing in Connecticut and having spent scant time in Pennsylvania since childhood.

In Wisconsin Eric Hovde, a wealthy banker, is running for Senate, despite living in Orange County, California, where he owns a $7 million estate.

“What ever happened to government of the people, by the people, and for the people?”