Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to run for 4th term in Montana

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said Wednesday he will seek reelection to a fourth term in 2024, a boost to Democrats' hopes of maintaining a seat in the Republican-leaning state as they try to hang on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tester, 66, said he was seeking reelection to continue standing up for veterans and to “lower costs,” which his campaign said referred to rising expenses for housing, health care, child care and other needs.

“I know that people in Washington don’t understand what a hard day’s work looks like or the challenges working families are facing in Montana,” the Democrat said Wednesday in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “Montanans need a fighter holding Washington accountable.”

As a third-generation farmer and former music teacher, Tester has leaned on a folksy speaking style and populist-themed messages to overcome his Republican opponents in each of the last three elections. He narrowly prevailed each time by drawing independents and centrist Republicans while distancing himself from party leaders in Washington.

The state’s political landscape has shifted sharply since Tester was first elected in 2006, and he has been the sole Democrat holding statewide office for the past two years.

The race could draw a fierce GOP primary contest between U.S. Reps. Ryan Zinke and Matt Rosendale. Zinke, who served as interior secretary in the Trump administration, said he will consider a Senate campaign, while Rosendale has declined to say if he will run.

Rosendale, a hard-right conservative, tried and failed to unseat Tester in 2018, with then-President Donald Trump making repeated appearances in Montana on the Republican’s behalf. Trump won Montana by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election and 16 percentage points in the 2020 election, but Tester defeated Rosendale by 3.5 percentage points.