Is Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester running scared? That could be the case, or it could be that he just knows his state. His latest ad features him touting bills he co-sponsored that were signed into law by Trump. The Washington Post added that some of these bills are also not ones of great significance, like the tax bill for example. One of them named a mountain after a conservationist, but Trump’s name is attached to it. Still, any red state Democrat running this year knows he or she will be fighting for their political lives. Their states voted for Trump and adding your name, plus a bill that the president signed is a way to provide a buffer and show that you’re not of the coastal, urban-minded elite that dominates the Democratic Party:
“Washington’s a mess, but that’s not stopping me from getting bills to help Montana signed into law by President Trump,” he says to camera. “I’m out of fingers, but I’m not finished getting things done for Montana.”
During a primary season in which many Democrats are seeking to outdo each another in denouncing Trump the loudest, Tester’s debut ad — shared first with The Daily 202 — foreshadows what you’ll see a lot more of in places like North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana.
He is one of 10 Democratic senators up for reelection this year in a state the president carried in 2016. In Wisconsin, which Trump narrowly and unexpectedly won, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin launched a commercial two weeks ago that highlights a bill she’s co-sponsored with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to lower prescription drug prices.
The goal across these races is to show voters both a willingness to work across the aisle and an effectiveness at breaking through the gridlock that characterizes the Capitol.
Not all 13 of the bills referred to in the ad are of equal significance. One named a mountain peak for a conservationist who died of cancer. Another amended the U.S. Flag Code so governors can order the flag lowered to half-staff when a first responder dies in the line of duty.
Tester has always known he’d face another tough reelection fight. The list of stuff he’s gotten through shows he started preparing early. But even if he runs a perfect campaign, and Republicans put up an average candidate, the race is likely to be close.
If you need a proof point, Republican Greg Gianforte won a special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the state’s sole House seat last May despite physically assaulting a reporter on the eve of the election.
Tester acknowledged that tribalism is a growing problem, and he said some conservative-minded folks in his state are certainly becoming more down-the-line partisan. But he expressed confidence that this is still a minority of voters in his home state. “Montanans pride themselves in being able to split their ticket,” he said.
There are some things that he’s squarely against regarding his party’s line, like a new bill to lessen banking regulations, which hard core lefties are dead set in opposition. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is also bucking the party line in supporting this legislation. The publication added that he’s voted with Trump 52 percent of the time; that’s high for a Democrat. Yet, he joined fellow Democrats in opposing the GOP tax bill, which has created a better job-creating and investing climate and spurred over 250 companies to dole out bonuses to their employees. U.S. investments have increased, which, that and the bonuses, have afforded over three million workers to benefit from the tax bill. Is there any wonder why the tax bill now has clinched majority approval? Yes, every red state Democrats has a similar story. They’re able to the thread the needle to win, they show a more conservative tilt to make it harder to Republicans to knock them off, and they’re good at retail politics to keep in touch with their constituents. They know their states. Yet, this tax bill opposition could be what does it in for them. It was a piece of legislation that was overwhelmingly pro-middle and working class. Eighty percent of Americans stand to benefit from the bill. Within the middle class, 91 percent will get a tax cut. The deficit issue is not illusory, but it doesn’t factor in how increased economic growth could offset those concerns. Government number crunchers can only analyze what’s in front of them. So, yeah, he got a mountain name for someone, but he voted against a middle and working class tax cut. Tester worked to screw you out of a financial break. He sees the writing on the wall—and maybe this saves him, but I think if the tax bill becomes more popular and Trump does a rally blitz throughout the tail end of 2018 prior to Election Day; Tester could be updating his resume.