U.S. SENATOR FOR MONTANA
Montana, unfortunately, is a reliably red state—one where we need to maintain what few footholds we have and fight to build on them. Voter turnout is strong (74% for the 2016 presidential election, and 55% for the 2014 midterms), and while Montanans supported Trump over Clinton 56.2% to 35.8%, it's not completely unheard of for a Democratic candidate to win the state, as Bill Clinton did in 1992.
Montana Democrats are not done fighting, and Tester's success as a populist has been used as a model. In early 2017, Trump picked Montana representative Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior, forcing a special election for Zinke's seat. Democrats rallied behind the populist folk singer Rob Quist against the millionaire tech magnate Greg Gianforte, who moved to the state from New Jersey, sued the government to stop the public from having access to a stream near his home, and later spent more than $5 million of his own money trying (and failing) to be elected governor.
It's an especially important time for Montana's progressive voices to be heard and to be defended. The state has recently been tainted by association with alt-right leader Richard Spencer and his neo-Nazi internet trolls, who targeted the tiny community of Jews in northwest Montana, revealing just how wide the divide in the state is between humane politicians like Tester and his opponents.
Senator Jon Tester is third-generation Montana farmer, a proud grandfather and a former school teacher who has deep roots in hard work, responsibility and accountability.
Jon and his wife Sharla still farm the same land near the town of Big Sandy, MT, that was homesteaded by Jon’s grandparents in 1912. Jon’s parents believed public education and family agriculture are the cornerstones of democracy—and those values had a tremendous role in shaping Jon’s leadership.
After earning a degree in music from the College of Great Falls, Jon took over the Tester farm in 1978, and also taught music at F.E. Miley Elementary. Fired up by the Montana Legislature’s decision to deregulate Montana’s power industry (resulting in higher power costs), Jon ran for and was elected to the Montana Senate in 1998.
In 2005, Jon’s colleagues chose him to serve as Montana Senate President. The people of Montana elected Jon to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and again in 2012. Jon has improved transparency at all levels of government. In fact, he was the first senator to post his daily public schedule online.
In the U.S. Senate, Jon is an outspoken voice for rural America. He is an advocate for small businesses. He is a champion of responsible energy development, sportsmen’s issues, clean air and water, Indian nations, women’s access to care, and quality health care for all of America’s veterans—no matter where they live. In the Senate, Jon serves on the Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security, Indian Affairs, Banking and Appropriations Committees.
In addition to farming and teaching, Jon and Sharla for years ran a custom butcher shop. Jon still butchers his own meat and regularly hauls it to Washington with him in a carry-on suitcase.
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