Update 11:20 p.m.- Republican Matt Rosendale has pulled ahead by about 2,500 votes over Jon Tester, according to the Montana Secretary of State’s office.
About 20 percent of precincts are reporting.
Click here for updated numbers.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester took an early lead Tuesday night over Republican Matt Rosendale, 53 percent to 44 percent.
A total of 58,956 votes have been counted, according to the Montana Secretary of State’ office.
Libertarian Rick Breckinridge took 3 percent.
Check back for updates.
The race was the top contest on the Montana ballot in 2018. Tester, a Montana farmer from Big Sandy, is running for his third term in the U.S. Senate. Tester is a ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and also serves on the committees for Indian affairs, Commerce, Banking, and Appropriation.
Earlier this year he drew sharp criticism from President Trump for going public with allegations against VA Secretary nominee Ronny Jackson. Jackson ultimately withdrew his nomination.
During the race, Sen. Tester highlighted what he says is a record of bi-partisanship. He cited the work he’s done co-authoring or sponsoring bills that have made it to President Trump’s desk and been signed.
Tester’s main opponent in the race is Montana State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale.
Rosendale spent six years in the Legislature, from 2011-2016, and was Senate majority leader for his final two years. He also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2014, losing in the Republican primary, and then won the statewide post of auditor and insurance commissioner in 2016.
In the Legislature, Rosendale allied himself with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. He often voted against major initiatives that passed with the support of Democrats and moderate Republicans, like Medicaid expansion and campaign-finance reform.
Rosendale has closely aligned himself with the president, who has made an unprecedented four trips to the treasure state encourage voters to back to Rosendale.
During the campaign, he’s concentrated mostly on embracing the president’s platform and casting Tester as someone who’s just trying to slow the Trump train.
Libertarian Rick Breckenridge also appeared on the mid-term ballot.