FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., officially endorsed “war hero” Tim Sheehy in the critical Montana Senate race, as he ramps up his bid to unseat Democrat Sen. Jon Tester in 2024.

Sheehy launched his campaign in an interview with Fox News Digital in June, quickly gaining support from prominent members within the GOP, including fellow Navy SEAL and Montana congressman Zinke.

“Tim Sheehy not only is a war hero, but he also represents the next generation of leadership,” Zinke told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. “He served this country, his wife is a marine, he understands sacrifice, and he also understands success.”

The congressman lauded Sheehy, who he says “understands that our values are at stake.”

FORMER NAVY SEAL CHALLENGES VULNERABLE DEM SENATOR IN RED STATE RACE VITAL FOR 2024 SENATE MAJORITY

Former Navy SEAL Rep. Ryan Zinke and now-Senate candidate Tim Sheehy in 2015. (Ryan Zinke U.S. Congress)

“In my experience as a commander, anyone can fight. It takes leadership to win. And you have to show leadership,” Zinke said of his decision to endorse Sheehy for the Republican nomination.

Sheehy completed over 200 missions in Iraq, served in Afghanistan, South America, and the Pacific region. The candidate received the Bronze Star with Valor for Heroism in Combat and the Purple Heart Medal – which was pinned by Zinke himself.

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As a former Navy SEAL, Zinke highlighted America’s need for a “red, white, and blue moment.”

Senate candidate Tim Sheehy

Tim Sheehy announced his Senate bid with Fox News Digital on June 27th. (Tim Sheehy for Senate Campaign)

“I’m duty, honor, country. I’m red, white and blue. And we need a red, white, and blue moment, that when you say you support the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I prefer those who have shown it in battle, because I think that’s what it’s going to take,” Zinke told Fox News Digital.

The representative of Montana’s first congressional district explained why the 2024 election is crucial in red-state Montana.

“Montana is thirsting for leadership. And we have big issues ahead of us,” Zinke said. “We have a debt, we have a looming China, we have the border. We have a lot of serious and daunting task ahead. And it’s going to take courage and leadership to address this.”

Ryan Zinke

Former Secretary of Interior Rep. Ryan Zinke represents Montana’s first congressional district. (William Campbell)

“As a former commander, now congressman, and secretary, I think Tim represents the right type of leadership that we need in the country,” Zinke said in his endorsement.

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Also among the growing list of Sheehy endorsements are Gov. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.

“Tim Sheehy is a decorated veteran, successful businessman, and a great Montanan. I could not be happier that he has decided to enter the Montana Senate race,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a statement after Sheehy’s announcement.

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