The Wednesday Read: Tester Files for Re-Election

I have great faith in the people of Montana; they can’t be bought. – Jon Tester

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) filed the paperwork to run for a third term on Tuesday. Terms in the U.S. Senate are for six years.

Along with the filing, Tester’s campaign issued the following statement:

“As a United States senator, I have had the humbling opportunity to defend the state that three generations of my family have called home,” Tester said. “Over the years, we’ve fought to protect the Montana we know and love from outsiders while continuing to hold government accountable. Today, I’m honored to file to continue that fight for the people of the best state in the best country in the world.”

According to MTN News, there are four Republicans lined up to take on Tester: state Auditor Matt Rosendale, Big Sky businessman Troy Downing, former state District Judge Russell Fagg of Billings and state Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell.

They will face off in a June primary.

MTN also reported that there could be a Libertarian running which would help Tester, as it did in the past.

In 2006, Tester beat my old boss Conrad Burns by 3,562 votes with the Libertarian candidate getting 10,324 votes. In 2012, Tester beat Denny Rehberg by 18,072 votes with the Libertarian candidate getting 31,892 votes.

By the way, I’ve never quite gotten over 3,562.

So, Team Tester is probably praying that a Libertarian candidate files for U.S. Senate. I expect there will be a Libertarian in the race because the GOP is pretty fractured.

The Chair of the Montana GOP, Debra Lamm, issued a statement about Tester running for reelection, in which she said:

“This midterm election is it for Senator Tester. He has pursued an obstructionist agenda and shown blind loyalty to his D.C. party bosses – putting their interests first and Montanans last.”

“Sen. Tester has completely lost touch with the people of Montana: Fighting tooth and nail against tax reform that’s putting more money in the pockets of Montana families, voting to shut down the government in an effort to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, opposing a bipartisan measure to end sanctuary cities, and supporting Washington’s reckless spending spree and bloated budget deals. Tester’s not putting Montana first because he’s too content wallowing in the swamp and he’s going down the drain in November.”

This seems to be the same old tired rhetoric we’ve come to expect from the Montana GOP.

In my humble opinion, I think that Rosendale will probably finish ahead of the pack in the Republican primary, with Fagg coming in second. Rosendale will be too far to the right for most Montanans, and if there is a Libertarian in the race, Tester will win by his largest margin yet (5 points).

I have a large file on Tester dating back to 2005. Of course, Tester is vulnerable on some issues, but overall he will be tough to beat. He is a good campaigner and debater. He has a great team in his corner. He has the money.

The Republicans tried to tie him to Barack Obama in 2012 and lost. Now it looks as though the theme to beat him will be that he has lost touch with Montanans, immigration, etc. These are weak issues and ones that Montanans don’t care that much about.

I probably know more about Tester than most due to research. No matter what the high-priced pundits say, as of right now I say this race leans “Safe Democrat.” This may change a little after the filing deadline passes.

MTN reporter Mike Dennison said in his article that this race could be the “most expensive electoral contest on Montana’ 2018 ballot.” Only one candidate will have the resources to battle the attacks and mount an effective offense. That’s Jon Tester.

Let’s get ready to rumble…

To keep up with campaign news, subscribe to this blog, follow me on Twitter @TheWesternWord, and like/follow The Western Word Facebook page.