U.S. Senate GOP primary candidate Matt Rosendale—styling a Tester-ish flattop— outside The Daily coffee shop on Rouse Avenue in Bozeman.

Rosendale on Big Sky

On his first trip to Big Sky about 20 years ago, U.S. Senate candidate and Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale said he showed up without reservations at Buck’s T-4 looking for a room. It was sometime in April or May, during what was then the quiet shoulder season. There were plenty of rooms available. In fact, Rosendale said he was the only guest in the place. He loved Buck’s, but couldn’t shake the spooky feeling of being totally alone. 

“It felt like ‘The Shining,’” said Rosendale, who had Big Sky all to himself during what was once a reliably sleepy mud season. He’d later make a habit of returning year after year to ski.

“I love Big Sky. I take my three sons up there and I ski. It’s a great family resort,” said Rosendale, who was spotted at a coffee shop in Bozeman the morning after the recent College Republicans’ U.S. Senate candidate forum at Montana State University. When asked to bend his stump speech around the experiences and aspirations of Big Sky voters, Rosendale made a connection between the recent tax cut passed by Congress and the local tourist-driven economy. 

“Regardless of where you are or what station in life you are, the expansion of the economy is going to be a very important thing. Wherever it takes place we benefit. If the economy is doing good in Big Sky, it’s more than likely a result of the economy doing well overall,” said Rosendale, who was a real estate developer in Maryland before buying a ranch on the Yellowstone River outside of Glendive in Eastern Montana. 

From there, Rosendale entered the Montana Legislature, rose to become majority leader in the state senate and made a run for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming state auditor. 

In 2014, Rosendale ran a political ad where he introduced himself: “I’m Matt Rosendale, and this is how I’d look from a government drone.” He then proceeds to shoot the drone with a hunting rifle as part of a curious, performance art rant against the federal government. 

One of Rosendale’s opponents in the GOP U.S. Senate primary—voters go to the polls June 5—is Big Sky resident Troy Downing, whose most recent political ad shows him flying what appears to be a fighter jet, which he uses to buzz a Sen. Jon Tester lookalike off a tractor. 

Over the next couple of months, Rosendale and Downing will continue to take shots at Tester and each other in their campaigns to secure the Republican nomination. During his recent stop in Bozeman, Rosendale—who sports a similar hairstyle as Sen. Tester—repeated a one-liner meant to portray himself as the GOP frontrunner, saying with a smile, “In November of 2018, the people of Montana are going to put someone with a flattop in the U.S. Senate.” -DM


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Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
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