A Montana farmer with a flattop and ample lobbyist cash stands between the GOP and Senate control
BIGFORK, Mont. (AP) - After 17 years in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Jon Tester is a well-known commodity in Montana — a plain-spoken grain farmer with a flattop and a carefully cultivated reputation as a moderate.
The 67-year-old lawmaker smiled and laughed his way through the crowd at a Veterans Day event in Bigfork, a small town on Flathead Lake where the population has surged in recent years. He chatted with veterans who supported him and some who didn’t, then stood behind a lectern in the Bigfork High School gymnasium to promote his biggest recent accomplishment: expanded federal health care for millions of veterans exposed to toxic smoke at military “burn pits.”
Tester has survived three close elections and a changed national political landscape to emerge as the lone Democrat still holding high office in Montana. The 2024 election brings possibly his stiffest challenge yet: Republicans, just two seats short of Senate control, are expected to spend tens of millions on attack ads painting him as a Washington insider tainted by lobbyist cash.
Ousting Tester also would cement a Republican lock on a state that voted overwhelmingly for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
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