Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Democrats have beef with a Montana GOP Senate candidate’s cattle ranch


As they navigate a tough 2024 map to maintain their slim Senate majority, Democrats are attempting to frame a key race in Montana around issues with unique resonance in the state: authenticity and access to public land.

They emphasize the dirt farm roots of the incumbent, Sen. Jon Tester. By contrast, they portray likely Republican challenger Tim Sheehy as a “rhinestone cowboy” who only dons a big hat when posing for pictures on social media.

Sheehy, an ex-Navy SEAL and Minnesota native, holds up his Little Belt Cattle Co., founded in 2020 in central Montana, as a success amid profound challenges in agriculture. Democrats hope voters will instead view it as a threat in a state settled and developed through federal homesteading programs dating back to the 1800s.

More recently, Montana has seen a rush of deep-pocketed outsiders buying up land. Democrats are trying to tie Sheehy to the trend — another outsider eager to capitalize on how the popular television series “Yellowstone” has romanticized Mountain West living. Little Belt, which raises and sells cattle and beef, encompasses land once divided among three smaller ranches in prime elk-hunting country. It only allows private hunting on its grounds...more

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