Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester will run for reelection, he announced Wednesday morning, a move that complicates the Republican Party's efforts to flip the red-leaning state in 2024.
"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," Tester, who has held office since 2007, said in a statement. "Montanans need a fighter holding Washington accountable and I’m running to defend our Montana values."
Tester's announcement comes as a boost to Democrats as they look to defend a treacherous Senate map and retain their narrow majority in the upper chamber. Democrats hold two-thirds of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs next November, and Montana has already emerged as a top target for Republicans given the party's success there in recent years. But Tester has emerged from difficult races before—the lone Democrat in statewide office, he defeated Republican congressman Matt Rosendale by four points in 2018. Republicans Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte went on to cruise to double-digit wins in their 2020 campaigns for senator and governor, respectively.
Tester acknowledged shortly after his announcement that Montana "is the GOP's top target in 2024." Republicans will now attempt to tie Tester to the Democratic Party's national leaders, who have grown increasingly unpopular in Big Sky Country. Just 32 percent of Montanans, for example, approve of President Joe Biden, compared with 62 percent who disapprove.
"The Tester-Biden agenda has given Montanans rising crime, higher taxes, and an open southern border that is flooding communities with deadly fentanyl," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Maggie Abboud said in a statement. "Montanans are going to send Joe Biden's favorite senator packing in 2024."