Tester announces his reelection bid in a high-stakes Senate race
Montana’s only statewide elected Democrat will seek reelection to the U.S. Senate.
Jon Tester’s campaign launch gives a boost to Democrats’ 2024 hopes of holding on to their slim majority in the upper chamber.
“Montanans need a fighter that will hold our government accountable and demand Washington stand up for veterans and lower costs for families,” Tester wrote in a Twitter post announcing his reelection bid.
In recent years, Tester has done what many other Democrats in Montana and across the nation haven’t been able to do — win in rural conservative states.
In Montana, a state Donald Trump carried twice by double-digit margins, Tester was narrowly reelected in 2018, despite Trump visiting the state four times to campaign against him.
The Cook Political Report rates Montana’s 2024 Senate race as “lean Democrat” with Tester in the contest.
“It was obviously going to be a highly anticipated decision by Sen. Tester whether to run again because the alternative was really unclear,” said Lee Banville, a journalism professor and political analyst at the University of Montana.
Banville says Tester’s bid to retain his seat will test his ability to reach a new landscape of Montana voters. When Tester won his first Senate race in 2006, Montana had a Democratic governor and was known for its power-sharing between the parties.
Now, Republicans hold a historic supermajority in the state legislature and have pushed Democrats out of all other statewide elected positions. Tester’s latest bid gives Democrats with dwindling control in Montana hopes of keeping a foothold in Congress.
“Unlike people in Washington, Jon understands the challenges working families are facing,” Montana Democratic Party Chair Robyn Driscoll said in a statement.
Democrats hold the majority in the U.S. Senate by just a single seat and have twice as many incumbent positions up for reelection in 2024 than Republicans.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee — led by Tester’s congressional delegation counter, U.S. Senator Steve Daines — already released a statement attacking Tester by linking him with President Joe Biden and blaming the duo for an uptick of crime and fentanyl distribution in Montana.
“Jon Tester just made the same mistake Steve Bullock did in 2020,” Daines said in an NRSC statement. “Both should have ended their political careers on their terms. Instead, they each will have their careers ended by Montana voters.”
Banville says Tester’s entrance gives Democrats a better chance, but Tester always runs a close race.
“It will be a large battle in the State of Montana to see if Tester can win reelection again,” Banville said.
Tester has never won election to the U.S. Senate by more than 4 points.