U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, the only Democrat holding statewide elected office in Montana, said Wednesday that he’ll seek reelection to a fourth term in 2024.
“As a third-generation farmer who still farms the land my grandparents settled more than 100 years ago, I know that people in Washington don’t understand what a hard day’s work looks like or the challenges working families are facing in Montana,” Tester’s campaign said in a statement. “I am running for reelection so I can keep fighting for Montanans and demand that Washington stand up for our veterans and lower costs.”
Tester’s campaign, Montanans for Tester, also cited a January Morning Consult poll that ranked him the eighth-most popular U.S. senator in the nation, with a 60% approval and 30% disapproval rating. Nevertheless, political observers regard Tester as vulnerable heading into the 2024 election given that Republicans won every partisan statewide race on the Montana ballot in 2020 and 2022.
Steve Daines, Montana’s junior U.S. senator and the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, panned Tester in a statement, drawing a comparison to former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s unsuccessful Senate bid.
“Jon Tester just made the same mistake Steve Bullock did in 2020. Both should have ended their political careers on their terms,” Daines said. “Instead, they each will have their careers ended by Montana voters. Jon’s support for Joe Biden’s disastrous agenda of open borders, reckless spending, and massive tax hikes is a fireable offense.”
The Montana Legislature heard a series of addresses from the state’s federal delegation — at least three of whom could well be vying for the same U.S. Senate seat come 2024.
The Montana Republican Party also blamed Tester’s collaboration with the Democratic president for what it called “disastrous policies.”
“The Biden-Tester agenda has given us rising prices, higher taxes, and open borders that are hurting Montana communities. He does not represent Montana values, and voters will send that message loud and clear next November,” Montana Republican Party Chairman Don Kaltschmidt said in a statement.
Tester has been a key player in Democratic President Joe Biden’s major legislative priorities, including the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, major spending measures that Republicans have criticized for increasing the federal deficit and driving up inflation. However, as he pointed out in an address to the state Legislature this week, he’s also criticized the president for his approach to the southern border and other issues.
Tester has voted for policies supported by Biden 91% of the time, according to political news site FiveThirtyEight, the third-lowest percentage of any Democrat in the U.S. Senate. Daines, in comparison, has voted with the Democratic president 32% of the time.
The Montana Democratic Party said Wednesday that Tester would defend “our great Montana values.”
“While Republicans float a field of failed candidates who will have to fight amongst themselves in a primary, Jon is going to continue to focus on fighting for our veterans, lowering costs for Montana workers and families, and holding Washington accountable – and that’s exactly why voters will re-elect the Senate’s only working farmer in 2024,” Montana Democratic Party Chair Robyn Driscoll said in a statement.
Both of Montana’s U.S. representatives, Republicans Ryan Zinke and Matt Rosendale, are potential challengers for Tester’s seat, though neither has officially announced a campaign.
Tester was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and won reelection in 2012 and 2018, most recently on a 50%-47% margin against a challenge from Rosendale.
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