The Wednesday Read: Tester Time

It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life. – Elizabeth Kenny

Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Jon Tester, is up for reelection this year. That means it’s Tester Time!

In case you missed it, Tester was one of 18 senators who voted against the short-term funding measure to reopen the government this week.

His “No” vote received a lot of attention. Roll Call reported it this way:

Montana Sen. Jon Tester was the only red-state Democrat up for re-election this year to vote against a stopgap funding measure Monday to end the three-day government shutdown.

Senators are well-known for the changes they go through the last couple years of their six-year term. They attend more meetings, issue more press releases, and are friendlier to the voters.

Sure Tester does some of the same things, but his “No” vote on the short-term funding bill only gave his opponents some much-needed ammo.

Who knows, maybe he really believes in what his press release said:

“Montanans deserve better. A short-term, 17-day budget is no way to run a household or business, and it certainly isn’t an acceptable way to run a government. We are once again seeing a failure of leadership in Washington and I will keep fighting tooth and nail for a long-term budget that funds Montana’s rural health clinics, strengthens border security, and provides our military with the certainty they need to keep our nation safe. While many people wanted to make this about immigration, this was always about Montana for me and I just won’t allow Washington to keep failing our state.”

Maybe, just maybe, Jon Tester has an independent streak. If he does, I sure hope he keeps it. Montanans like that. Will we see it in 2019?

With his “No” vote he gave the Republicans something to talk about.

It would have been easier for him to vote yes and fall in line, but he didn’t. The good news for Tester fans is that Republicans have not been able to find a formula to beat him yet. The Republicans just can’t figure out Jon Tester (See 2012. See 2006). 2018 looks to be more of the same. So far, there are about five candidates who think they have a chance to defeat him. Two have actually filed the paperwork. Most of the candidates are unknown.

Tester’s “No” vote was so monumental that the Chairman of the Montana Republican Party sent out two press releases this week pointing out Tester’s vote:

Jon Tester was one of the 18 Democrat Senators to VOTE AGAINST re-opening the government – all in an effort to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. He sided with the most extreme members of the Liberal Party like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over Montanans!

The conservative Club for Growth organization used Tester’s “No” vote to send out a fundraising email:

For almost 3 days our government stood at a standstill because Senators Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester held our country hostage – just to play political games and score points with their liberal base.

Jon Tester and Chuck Schumer withheld pay from soldiers and their families.

Jon Tester and Chuck Schumer furloughed thousands of government employees.

I’m old enough to remember when the Republicans tried to tie Jon Tester to Barack Obama. That did not work out so well.

If you search for Jon Tester through Google, the first thing that pops up is an ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) that says:

DC Democrat Jon Tester | Voted to Shut Down the Govt |
Tester’s Vote Hurts Kids, Seniors, & the Troops. 

On the other hand, the Democrats and Tester’s staff know the vote will be campaign fodder so they were busy sending out press releases and statements defending Tester.

Tester’s “No” vote will cause him headaches for the next 10 months. The ads will be brutal. Tester will need to spend a lot of money to defend his vote – but that should be no problem.

This race still leans “Safe Democrat.”

It’s Tester Time!

Livin’ on Tester time
Livin’ on Tester time
Well, you know I’ve been through it
When I set my watch back to it
Livin’ on Tester time