Democratic Sen. Jon Tester announces run for reelection in Montana

Montana Senator Jon Tester announced Wednesday that he will run for reelection in 2024. This is a boost for Democrats as they attempt to keep their narrow Senate majority.

Tester, who is 66 years old, stated that he was running for reelection in order to stand up for veterans and to “lower cost,” which his campaign claimed referred to rising costs for housing, child care, and other necessities.

The Democrat stated Wednesday that Washingtonians don’t know what a hard day’s work is like or the difficulties Montanan families face. “Montanans require a fighter to hold Washington accountable.”

Tester, a third-generation farmer who was also a former teacher of music, relied on his folksy speaking style to defeat his Republican opponents in each election. Each time, he narrowly won by drawing centrist Republicans and independents while avoiding Washington party leaders.

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Since 2006, the state’s political landscape changed dramatically. Tester was the first to be elected and he has been the only Democrat in the state for the past two-years.

Ryan Zinke and Matt Rosendale could face off in a primary race for the GOP nomination. Zinke, who was the Trump administration’s interior secretary, stated that he would consider running for Senate, while Rosendale declined to confirm if he will.

Rosendale, a conservative of hard right, attempted to defeat Tester but failed. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump made repeated appearances in Montana for the Republican cause. Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016 and 16 points in 2020, respectively. However, Tester beat Rosendale by 3.5 points.

Tester emphasized a few issues in his previous elections — health care, reproduction choice, and support for veterans. He avoided direct confrontations against national Republican figures like Trump, who held a grudge against Tester because he derail his Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson (then-White House doctor), with revelations about misconduct.

After voting against Trump’s Supreme Court picks, Tester was the only Democratic senator representing a Republican-leaning State to win his reelection campaign in 2018.

Senator Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Tester sponsored legislation to expand health care services for millions exposed to toxic fumes from military bases’ burn pits.

He has been a strong advocate for campaign finance reform, but he was sometimes the top congressional recipient for campaign donations from lobbyists in 2012 and 2018. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he is still a leading advocate for campaign finance reform. According to Federal Election Commission filings, his campaign had nearly $3 million left as of January 1, 2018, and has raised more cash than $4 million since his 2018 reelection.

Tester was a teacher at an elementary school in Big Sandy, Montana, before he ran for the Senate. He later became a member of the town’s school boards. From 1999 to 2007, he was a member of the state Senate. He spent the two most recent years as the chamber’s president.