ENNIS, Mont. — Louie Baur confessed he doesn’t know much about Matt Rosendale, after meeting the Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester as he glad-handed supporters and posed for selfies along Main Street in this historic hunting outpost.

But Rosendale has President Trump’s seal-of-approval in Montana’s suddenly competitive Senate contest — and that’s good enough for Baur, 50, a recent transplant from California who is excited to cast his ballot. “I’m not that familiar with his platform, but I don’t need to be,” he said, one day after Trump rallied for Rosendale in Missoula, 200 miles to the northwest. “Republicans need to stay in charge.”

Polling is sparse, but the Rosendale and Tester campaigns agree the race is essentially a toss-up two weeks before the critical midterm elections. Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced a $1.5 million advertising buy in Montana, after previously planning to say out of the race because the group didn’t think Rosendale was worth the investment.

The explosive battle to install Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court elevated Rosendale in this red state, activating a disengaged conservative electorate and priming the pump for Trump to sway the outcome. The president won Montana by more than 20 percentage points in 2016 and has visited the state three times this election cycle to rally the GOP faithful.

[Related: How Kavanaugh has shaken the midterm elections kaleidoscope]

There is certainly fresh energy behind Rosendale’s once-forgotten Senate bid. Montana’s elected state auditor was treated like a celebrity on Friday as he worked the Hunter’s Feed Festival in Ennis, an annual gathering to inaugurate the beginning of hunting season in Big Sky Country.

Traversing Main Street clad in Wrangler Jeans, a button-down shirt and cowboy boots, excited supporters greeted Rosendale with “we’re pulling for you” and “we’re going to kick Tester out.” Said another: “When you see the Donald again, tell him hello.” In interviews with the Washington Examiner, Rosendale was happy to credit Kavanaugh and Trump for his surge.

“It’s big, I mean, it’s really big,” Rosendale said of the impact the Kavanaugh confirmation had on his race. “It made a lot of people aware of what lengths the Democratic Party was willing to go in order [to] maintain some semblance of power.”

“When President Trump comes to Montana, it’s like a rock concert,” Rosendale added. “It brings a level of energy to our state that cannot be replicated by anything else that anybody can do. For the state it’s great; and for me as a candidate to say: ‘And, he’s here to help me.’ You just can’t even measure. It’s incredible.”

Tester was first elected in the midterm election of 2006, a blue wave that developed as a rebuke of President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. In that contest and in his re-election six years later when President Barack Obama led the Democratic ticket, Tester won without reaching 50 percent of the vote.

This year, the national winds again favor the Democrats. But increased political balkanization means these tailwinds aren’t necessarily helping Tester in pro-Trump Montana. Indeed, there could be something of a red tide here, although both camps expect a photo finish.

Tester, a farmer who spends most weekends at home on his tractor, is taking the competition in stride — publicly, at least. Where Tester needs to be strong, the signs are encouraging — literally. Drive through Billings near Montana State University and front yards are dotted with Tester campaign signs.

“We feel like we’re in a strong position, and we’re executing the game plan,” Tester campaign spokesman Chris Meagher said. “Nothing has really changed from our perspective.”

The senator is pushing healthcare. It's not the only issue Tester is relying on to separate himself from Rosendale, but it's the key driver of his campaign.

Like Democrats across the country, he has found that Obamacare could be a winning issue in 2018 after costing the Democrats dozens of seats, and their House and Senate majorities in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, respectively, under President Barack Obama. Specifically, voters have warmed to the Affordable Care Act as a means to retain the federal mandates forcing health insurers to cover pre-existing medical conditions and prohibit the lifetime caps on payouts.

Rosendale opposes these Obamacare mandates, saying pre-existing and chronic conditions should be covered by other means. Tester views this as an opening to overcome his broad opposition to Trump’s legislative agenda and judicial nominees. The senator voted against the president’s biggest ticket items, like the $1.3 trillion tax overhaul, and opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Tester also ended up crosswise with Trump over the nomination of Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, at the time the president’s personal military physician, to serve as Veterans Affairs secretary. Democrats and Republican questioned Jackson’s qualifications. But Trump zeroed in on Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, as the culprit that forced him to withdraw Jackson’s nomination.

Republicans in Montana monitoring this close contest say Tester was on track to overcome all of that — until the Kavanaugh hearings. The Tester campaign dismisses this theory of the race, saying it was always going to tighten down the stretch. Democratic insiders tend to agree on the light impact of the Kavanaugh effect in Montana. But GOP insiders insist it was the battle to confirm Trump's second Supreme Court nominee that lit a fire under Republicans and like-minded voters here, putting Rosendale in contention.

“It’s up for grabs, and so I think Rosendale has a shot at it. When it first began, I would have said he didn’t have [a] ghost’s chance in hell,” said Sherm Anderson, a Republican former state senator who served with Tester in the legislature. Anderson spoke with the Washington Examiner on Friday after leading Rosendale on a tour of his expansive lumber mill in Deer Lodge, 23 miles northwest of Butte. “The Kavanaugh thing was a big turning point,” he said.