BILLINGS, Mont. — A trial is scheduled less than two weeks before the primary election for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate charged with illegally purchasing resident hunting or fishing licenses in Montana while living in California.

Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams on Wednesday set a three-day jury trial for Troy Downing beginning May 23. Downing faces nine misdemeanor violations.

The Big Sky businessman has pleaded not guilty and claims the charges are politically motivated.

But the timetable for the court proceedings means questions over Downing’s residency status will remain at issue through most of the primary season, leaving him open to potential attacks from detractors.

On June 5, voters will choose a nominee to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in the November 2018 general election.