Sheehy's shift

Top GOP Senate recruit in Montana shies away from past support for Ukraine

Tim Sheehy, a military veteran and businessman, is the Republicans’ favored candidate to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

(Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

Tim Sheehy, founder of Bridger Aerospace and Ascent Vision, pauses during a tour of the company’s facility on Friday, Aug. 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Mont.

Tim Sheehy, a top GOP Senate recruit in Montana, is signaling his support for an isolationist approach to the war in Ukraine, breaking with previous comments in which he advocated for an unusually aggressive response to Russia’s invasion.

In a statement to a Montana talk radio host published on Wednesday, Sheehy, a businessman and former Navy SEAL officer, called for the U.S. to end its involvement in Ukraine and “compel an immediate peaceful outcome” to the ongoing conflict.

“We are a year into this war and America has done our duty in stopping this vicious and unprovoked attack,” he said, “and we must now demand a settlement which ends the killing of innocent people and the unlimited supply of arms from the United States.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. “should be focusing its energies on fixing our economy,” he concluded, alleging that his Democratic opponent, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and President Joe Biden have engaged in “wasteful spending” while ignoring domestic issues such as border security.

The isolationist rhetoric, which reflects a growing strain of populist sentiment in the Republican Party, stands in contrast with past social media remarks in which Sheehy, 37, expressed unwavering support for backing Ukraine — even going so far as to suggest that the U.S. should send in American troops.

“Sweden and Finland are next? We’ve seen this movie before….stop him now before the price tag for putting Putin down will be a lot higher,” he wrote last year on his LinkedIn page, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Georgia, Crimea, Syria, now Kiev- then what? Estonia? Finland? Sweden? Gofund me pages and twitter likes aren’t enough. Soldiers, planes, bombs and bullets will be needed against this Tyrant.”

In a separate LinkedIn post, Sheehy voiced frustration with what he criticized as American “inaction” as Russia began its attack. “Our inaction in the face of unchecked evil is shameful,” he said last year. “The time to intervene on behalf of a free democracy is now.”

Sheehy also cheered on a fellow LinkedIn user who had shared news of a shipment of medical supplies from Bozeman, Mont., to a small city in western Ukraine. “Way to support Ukraine during their battle for freedom,” he wrote in an enthusiastic comment.

A spokesperson for Sheehy’s campaign did not respond to a request for clarification from Jewish Insider on Wednesday afternoon.

While Sheehy’s new statement on Ukraine represents a departure from past comments, he did not go as far as other Republicans who have more aggressively criticized American engagement in the conflict, including Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), a potential GOP primary challenger. The two-term congressman, a hard-right isolationist who has defied Republican leadership, is staunchly opposed to U.S. funding for Ukraine. 

Sheehy, for his part, is among a handful of establishment-backed Senate recruits in key battleground states who are breaking with party leaders on Ukraine.

In Nevada, Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who is challenging Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), has also embraced a non-interventionist approach to foreign policy, even as he has strained to clarify his positions.

In written comments recently shared with JI, Brown, 39, would not confirm whether he is open to ending American funding for Ukraine, despite having previously expressed support for cutting aid during his first Senate campaign.

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