Leer en Español
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) announced he will seek re-election in 2024, complicating Republican aspirations in the state. His seat is considered one of the most vulnerable in the cycle and several big names are already eyeing his seat fondly. Some analysts have asserted that Tester’s candidacy was the only Democratic possibility to retain this Senate seat.
The 2024 Senate map looks extremely good for Republicans. Of the 34 seats that will be up for grabs, only 11 belong to the GOP. Plus, they have almost no vulnerable seats. Prior to 2022, some Democrats looked fondly at the seats held by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rick Scott (R-FL), but the midterms cleared the way for both to be re-elected.
On the other side of the aisle, things look a bit bleaker. Democrats will have to defend at least 8 competitive races, which, at worst, could give Republicans a solid edge in the Upper House. These are West Virginia, Montana, Ohio, Ohio, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan, all of which threaten Biden’s slim majority in the Senate.
Specifically, “The Treasure State” offers one of the biggest opportunities for the GOP. Donald Trump carried the state by nearly 17% in 2020 and Republicans pulled 18% ahead in the 2022 midterms. The only thing that could stand between the Republicans and a victory has a first and last name: Jon Tester.
After eight years in the state Senate, two of them as president, he moved up a rung and entered the Senate in 2007 after ousting incumbent Conrad Burns by less than 4,000 votes.
Jon Tester, a blue spot in a red state
A farmer and former music teacher, he has a habit of dyeing Montana blue once every six years. He won re-election in 2012, increasing his margin of advantage, which he stretched even further in his third run in 2018. According to GovTrack, he is the fourth most moderate Democrat in the upper chamber, trailing only Joe Manchin, Raphael Warnock and Maggie Hassan.
According to Roll Call, Tester voted 50% of the time with Donald Trump between 2017 and 2018, while 36% from April 2020 to the end of his term. In his quest for a fourth term, he will again appeal to the moderation that led him to victory in his previous elections.
“I am running for re-election so I can keep fighting for Montanans and demand that Washington stand up for our veterans and lower costs,” he said. “Montanans need a fighter holding Washington accountable and I’m running to defend our Montana values,” he wrote on his social media, where he announced the news.
“People are going to come after me. They’ve come after me in the past, but that’s politics. And we’ll get through it and then hopefully be successful come November of 2024,” the senator had expressed in December 2022, when he was still unsure about whether or not to enter the race.
More! Republicans Could Pick Up 4 More Congressional Seats in North Carolina
Tester is the most popular among the Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2024. According to Morning Consult, he has a 60% positive image and a 30% negative image, which also places him as the eighth most popular member of the Senate.
The GOP will bet big on this seat and has reason to do so. The coincidence with a presidential election could be vital in sending Tester back to Montana. In the event of a repeat of the 2020 results, the incumbent will need to get nearly 100,000 people to vote Republican for president and Democrat for Senate.
Ryan Zinke, current Congressman and former Secretary of the Interior, Matt Rossendale, Montana’s second congressman, and Austin Knudsen, the state’s current Attorney General, have expressed interest in running in 2024. The equation would change outright if Governor Greg Gianforte enters the race, as he is seen as potentially the strongest candidate.
Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda.