Jon Tester, Montana Democratic Senator, announces he will run for re-election in 2024

The Montana farmer is one of three Democratic senators who represents a state that Donald Trump won twice

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 22 February 2023 14:38 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, announced he will run for re-election in 2024, setting up one of the marquee Senate races in a presidential year. The move gives Democrats some hope amid a tough Senate map for the party.

Mr Tester, a Democrat who won his first Senate race in 2006, made the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

“Montanans need a fighter that will hold our government accountable and demand Washington stand up for veterans and lower costs for families,” he tweeted. “I will always fight to defend our Montana values. Let's get to work.”

Democrats had hoped that Mr Tester, 66, would seek another term given the fact that Montana has become increasingly Republican.

Mr Tester – along with Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – is one of three Democrats who represents a state that voted for former president Donald Trump twice. Mr Brown has announced he will seek re-election but Mr Manchin, who represents a state where Mr Trump won every county, has yet to announce his intentions.

Mr Trump heavily targeted Mr Tester in his 2018 re-election campaign after Mr Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, sank then-White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination to become Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Since becoming the chairman of the committee, Mr Tester helped pass legislation to provide health care benefits for veterans who suffered health complications from burn pits. He also was part of a bipartisan group of eight Senators who negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Mr Biden signed into law in 2021.

Despite being from a staunchly red state, Mr Tester touts a more liberal record than other swing-state Democrats, supporting the American Rescue Plan Act, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 relief legislation, in 2021. He also supported Build Back Better, Democrats’ proposed social spending bill, that ultimately died and the Inflation Reduction Act, the party’s climate and health care bill that passed the Senate, with far fewer objections than Mr Manchin had.

Along with Montana, Ohio and West Virginia, Democrats will have to defend Senate seats in four other swing states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada. Democrats only have a two-seat Senate majority, giving Republicans an advantage in a presidential year as split-ticket voting has declined.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party late last year but still caucuses with her former party, has not yet indicated whether she will seek re-election. Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego has announced he will run against her.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the race as lean Democratic.

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