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Montana Sen. Tester announces run for re-election in 2024

Jon Tester.JPG
Posted at 11:17 PM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 08:25:17-05

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced he will seek a fourth term for the U.S. Senate.

Some see that race drawing a lot of attention nationally in a presidential election year.

Tester has become a familiar face in Montana politics, first elected as a U.S. senator in 2006, and winning re-election in 2012 and 2018.

"Tester enters this race in pretty good position for several reasons," said Mike Dennison, former MTN chief political reporter. "He's well-liked by people across both sides of the aisle. He's a fairly senior Democrat now in Congress."

Dennison says the announcement from Tester comes much earlier than announcements in the past ahead of any potential challengers.

"The obvious choices are going to be our two Congressmen," Dennison said. "(Rep.) Matt Rosendale,( R-Mont.). ran against Tester in 2018. I think he's clearly positioned himself to run again. And then (Rep.) Ryan Zinke, (R-Mont.), I haven't talked to Mr. Zinke recently. I have no idea what he's thinking. But I think he's a very ambitious man. I wouldn't be surprised if he runs too."

"I'm not sure that there's an obvious Republican challenger yet," said Dr. Paul Pope, MSU-Billings associate professor of political science. "But we're more than a year out from the primary so there's ample time for a challenger to pop up."

Pope said while Tester has an advantage as an incumbent, the slim Democratic margin in the U.S. Senate may pose challenges.

"Democrats have 23 seats to protect and Republicans only have 11," Pope said. "So it's going to be a lot harder and more expensive for Democrats to retain the Senate than for the Republicans to take the Senate."

Dennison said Tester has already raised $3 million and expects him to raise more than the $20 million he raised in 2018.

And fellow Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., adds another element as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

"It's somewhat unique that we have a senator in the same state really gunning to defeat his fellow senator," Dennison said.

"You're going to see an increase in the spending for 2024 greater than what you saw in 2020," Pope said.

"It's going to be a hugely expensive race, probably one of the most expensive in the country," Dennison said. "We're talking over $100 million is going to be spent. Lots of media attention on lots of races."