Jon Tester – MT

Jon Tester


Current Position: US Senator since 2007
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Position: State Senator from 1996 – 2006
Other Positions:   Chair, Defense Subcommittee -Appropriations Committee

In 1978, Tester graduated from the University of Providence with a B.A. in music. Tester  worked for two years as a music teacher in the Big Sandy School District before returning to his family’s farm and custom butcher shop. He and his wife continue to operate the farm; in the 1980s, they switched from conventional to organic farming.

Tester spent five years as chairman of the Big Sandy School Board of Trustees and was also on the Big Sandy Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Committee and the Chouteau County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) Committee.

Jon believes in holding himself accountable to the highest standards possible, and he has improved transparency at all levels of government.  In fact, Jon was the first senator to post his daily public schedule online (from website).

Shutdown a symptom of Washington dysfunction

OnAir Post: Jon Tester – MT



Source: Government page

Jon Tester 1Senator Jon Tester is a 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, Mont. 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.  He also taught music at F.E. Miley Elementary and eventually was elected to the Big Sandy School Board.  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 then elected Jon to the United States Senate in 2006. They voted to send him back in 2012 and again in 2018.


Full Name: Jon Tester

Gender: Male

Family: Wife: Sharla; 2 Children: Christine, Shon

Birth Date: 08/21/1956

Birth Place: Havre, MT

Home City: Big Sandy, MT

Religion: Christian

Source: Vote Smart

Vote Smart

BA, Music, College of Great Falls (Great Falls College Montana State University), 1978

Political Experience

Senator, United States Senate, Montana, 2007-present

Candidate, United States Senate, 2018

Senator, Montana State Senate, 1998-2006

President, Montana State Senate, 2005-2006

Minority Leader, Montana State Senate, 2003-2005

Minority Whip, Montana State Senate, 2001-2003

Professional Experience


Former Teacher, Music, F.E. Miley Elementary School


Billings Office
Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman Office
Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte Office
Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls Office
119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena Office
Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


Email: Government

Web Links


Source: none

Election Results

To learn more, go to this wikipedia section in this post.


Source: Open Secrets



The Senate Appropriations Committee is one of the most influential committees in Congress. It ultimately decides where the government spends taxpayer money, and how much it spends. Senator Tester brings the Montana values of accountability, responsibility and transparency to his work on the committee, balancing smart investments in our nation with the need to cut wasteful spending.


  • Defense (Chairman)
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Energy and Water Development


Senator Tester works on legislation related to financial institutions, public and private housing, urban development and mass transit, and related matters on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Senator Tester brings a rural perspective to this committee to make sure that laws and policies work for small banks, credit unions, small businesses and consumers in rural America.


  • Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
  • National Security and International Trade and Finance
  • Securities, Insurance, and Investment


On the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, Senator Tester puts Montana’s economy front and center as he works across the aisle to strengthen our transportation infrastructure, boost broadband and broadcasting, and fight for higher paying jobs.


  • Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
  • Communications, Media, and Broadband


On the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Tester works on legislation to solve problems facing American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples. These issues include challenges facing Montana’s seven Indian reservations such as education, land management, health care, and economic development.


Living up to the promises made to the heroes who served our nation in the military is Senator Tester’s first priority as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In addition to securing better physical and mental health care for veterans and their families, this committee considers policy related to pensions, vocational training, education, and other matters.

New Legislation


Source: Government page

Accountability & Transparency

Jon holds himself, Washington, and corporations accountable to the people of Montana. He is a staunch believer that sunlight ensures accountability, and he has fought for transparency at all levels of government.

Jon is a founding member of the Senate Transparency Caucus and has introduced legislation to increase transparency across the federal government, including a bill to make all government contracts over $150,000 public, and crack down on fraud and abuse of government travel cards.

Jon is also leading the fight to bring more transparency to our campaigns, and he is pushing to end the flow of dark money flooding our elections.

For his efforts, Jon was awarded the prestigious James Madison Award for fighting for greater transparency in government and public access to government information.

Civil Rights

Civil Liberties

Jon believes strongly in protecting Montanans’ right to bear arms and right to privacy. He has voted to protect Americans against all forms of federal government overreach that violate these precious Constitutional freedoms.

As a gun owner, Jon has voted against legislation that would violate Montanans’ Second Amendment rights and hinder the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase and own a gun.

Jon also fought hard to repeal the most intrusive aspects of the PATRIOT Act, which he believes violate Montanans’ right to privacy, while pushing back against those who try to undermine the Fourth Amendment.

Jon has also introduced legislation to expand civil liberties for law-abiding Americans and has opposed efforts to allow Internet Service Providers to collect and sell people’s private web browsing histories.


Campaign Finance

Calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision one of the most irresponsible in history, Jon is fighting back against outside special interests that try to influence Montana’s elections.

Since the days of the Copper Kings, Montana has rejected the notion that our democracy is for sale. In 2012, nearly 75 percent of Montanans voted to say that corporations should not be able to spend unlimited amounts of money trying to influence our elections.

As a result, Jon is sponsoring multiple bills to shine a light on the dark money groups that tries to influence our elections-including a Constitutional Amendment that overturns Citizens United and declares once and for all that corporations aren’t people.

Jon also voluntarily files his campaign finance reports online, which increases transparency and saves taxpayers money.

Jon is following in the footsteps of the Montanans who over a century ago told corporations that our elections aren’t for sale, and he will work with anyone who is willing to clean up the nation’s broken campaign finance system and return our democracy to the people.



As the U.S. Senate’s only working farmer, Jon knows that agriculture is the backbone of Montana’s economy.

Jon farms the same land in northcentral Montana that his grandparents homesteaded over a century ago, and he understands firsthand the challenges facing family farmers and ranchers.

As a member of the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Jon knows Montana producers need a Farm Bill that strengthens safety nets and allows family farms and ranches to survive periods of low commodity prices. The Farm Bill needs to be a tool that farmers and ranchers can use to increase competition in the marketplace, invest in new research, and increase access to ports along the northern border.

Jon is also fighting to expand access to markets so farmers can sell their products in countries like China and Cuba while maintaining and expanding market access in Mexico and Canada. Jon is committed to working with the Administration on trade agreements that meet the needs of producers while keeping jobs here in Montana.

Jon is also fighting to cut taxes for Montana’s farmers and ranchers, ensuring that they can keep their equipment up to date.

Above all, Jon is fighting to ensure Montana producers have access to the resources they need to grow their bottom lines, strengthen their communities, and pass down their operations to the next generation—just like Jon hopes to pass his farm down to his grandkids.

Economy & Jobs

Jon has a common sense, made-in-Montana plan to strengthen the state’s economy and create good-paying jobs for folks across the Big Sky Country.

Jon’s #EmployMT plan will open new markets to Montana businesses, pave the way for innovation at our colleges and universities, invest in our state’s workforce, and responsibly develop Montana’s natural resources.

Another fundamental part of Jon’s plan is cutting regulations to ensure Montana’s businesses have access to capital so they can continue to grow and create jobs.

Jon is also fighting to strengthen our outdoor economy, which has been a huge area for job growth over the last decade and currently sustains more than 70,000 jobs throughout our state each year.

And, as part of his #Montennials initiative, Jon is pushing to improve economic prospect for Montana’s young folks, so they can start their own careers in the Treasure State.

Additionally, Jon has hosted over a dozen Small Business Opportunity Workshops across the state to connect entrepreneurs with resources to start and grow their operations.



Jon believes public education is the foundation of America’s democracy. As a former public school student, teacher, and school board member, Jon knows how important access to a quality public education is to Montana’s rural way of life—and that begins as early as pre-kindergarten. From Glendive to Ravalli County, Jon has secured millions of dollars to support Montana’s Head Start programs, ensuring that Montana kids have the tools they need to thrive right out of the gate.

Jon is committed to ensuring schools in Montana and across rural America can recruit and retain top-notch teachers. In order to boost teacher recruitment in rural Montana, Jon introduced the Rural Educator Support and Training (REST) Act and the Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act. These bills work to address the shortages of educators in Montana, both in Indian Country and at large. The REST and NEST Acts strengthen teacher workforce by providing scholarships, loan forgiveness, and professional development opportunities to educators who commit to work in rural schools. Montana’s future leaders deserve the best of the best when it comes to their education, and getting America’s brightest teachers in rural classrooms is the first step.

He is also working with teachers, parents, school board members, and administrators to ensure that policies coming out of Washington D.C. don’t stifle creativity in the classroom. He helped roll back provisions of No Child Left Behind, has passed legislation to strengthen local control over our state’s schools, and has pushed back against efforts to privatize public education and divert critical resources away from schools with limited resources.

Jon believes education doesn’t stop at high school, and he is working to make it easier for Montanans to continue learning. He knows to achieve this, we’ve got to make college more affordable and ensure job training and apprenticeship programs stay up and running. By restoring year-round Pell Grants, supporting the Perkins Loan and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs, and continuing investments in to programs like Job Corps and TRIO, Jon is fighting to ensure that a price tag does not determine anyone’s opportunity to learn.


Public Lands

Jon knows that in Montana outdoor recreation is more than a hobby—it’s a way of life. Because Montana boasts some of the most beautiful views of National Parks, rivers, streams, and wildlife the country has to offer, Montanans know how important it is to protect public lands.

Outdoor recreation is one of Montana’s biggest and fastest growing industries. In fact, hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping generate more than $7 billion and sustain 71,000 jobs across the state each year.

Jon is fighting to keep public lands in public hands. In January 2019, the Jon’s bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was signed into law. Funded through offshore oil and gas development revenue, LWCF has invested more than $540 million to support Montana’s outdoor economy since 1965—all without costing the taxpayers a dime. Jon continues pushing to ensure that LWCF is fully, permanently funded for generations to come.

In a collaborative effort between Montana ranchers, loggers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers, and business owners, Jon also crafted and introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. This made-in-Montana bill protects thousands of acres of public land, ensures future generations can access outdoor recreational opportunities, and strengthens Montana’s outdoor economy. The bill received a hearing last Congress and continues to pick up momentum.

Jon is working hard to protect Montana’s iconic landscapes for future generations. His bipartisan Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act was signed into law, protecting the doorstep of the nation’s first National Park and 30,000 acres of public land from industrial mining. He successfully led the bipartisan Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act and the North Fork Protection Act, which ensure these treasured places can be enjoyed for future generations.

Health Care

Health Care

Jon is working to increase access and affordability to health care across Montana.

Protecting Medicare for seniors, and Medicaid for working families is critical to Montana’s future.

Folks have paid into Medicare their whole lives, and they shouldn’t have the rug pulled out from under them by Washington politicians. That’s why Jon will protect Medicare from being privatized or turned into a voucher system.

Jon also wants to make sure that regardless of whether folks get hurt in the oil fields of the Bakken, skiing near Yellowstone, or farming in Fort Benton, they have affordable health care options nearby.

The current health care system is not perfect, but it has helped rural hospitals and community health centers stay afloat. It has provided working families with coverage for the first time. And it has stopped big insurance companies from denying folks coverage because of a pre-existing condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma.

Jon knows that Montana families are facing rising premiums and he is willing to work with anyone to lower the cost of health care.


Infrastructure & Technology

Connecting the Last Best Place to the rest of the country and the world requires strong, reliable, and up-to-date infrastructure and technology. Investments in roads, bridges, and airports ensure that Montana’s communities remain safely linked. Access to reliable internet and television broadcasts ensures Montana businesses can succeed in a modern economy, and gives folks the opportunity to connect across the state and beyond. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology, Jon is leading the charge in providing rural America with access to the same technology and resources given to urban areas.

Jon is backing the Broadband DATA Act, which expands rural broadband coverage by directing the Federal Communications Commission to build more accurate broadband coverage maps. In order to reinstate Net Neutrality, Jon is a cosponsor of the Save the Internet Act of 2019, ensuring rural communities remain competitive when selling products online. And to make sure rural America isn’t left behind, Jon is fighting to make sure Montana and other rural communities are at the forefront of consideration in the race to develop a nationwide 5G wireless network.

Using his seat on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Jon has successfully secured grant funding for Montana airports, transportation projects, broadband, and water systems.

Social Security


Jon is a staunch advocate for Montana’s seniors, fighting to fund and protect Medicare, Social Security, Meals on Wheels and Senior Corps, initiatives that help seniors lead healthy, independent lives.

Jon believes Social Security is an essential benefit that seniors have paid into and earned over a lifetime of hard work. For many folks, it is their sole source of retirement income-so it has to be there for Montana’s seniors when they need it. That’s why Jon opposes any plan to privatize Social Security or reduce benefits. He’s working with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to make sure the program stays solvent-not just for today’s seniors, but for their kids and grandkids as well.

Jon also knows Medicare ensures seniors have access to quality affordable health care, which is why he opposes any initiative that would cut Medicare or turn it into a voucher system. Instead, Jon is working to strengthen Medicare by making sure doctors and hospitals get fair reimbursement rates so that it is financially feasible for doctors to see older patients.

Montanans work hard to enjoy their retirement years, and that is why Jon has fought hard against attempts to charge Montanans in their 50’s and 60’s more for life saving health insurance.



As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Jon is one of Congress’ most effective advocates for veterans. He is committed to working with both Republicans and Democrats to hold VA accountable, pass meaningful legislative reforms, and follow through on this country’s steadfast commitment to the men and women who have served.

Jon knows we must work to improve access to health care, benefits, jobs, education, transportation, and housing for veterans. And he believes that Congress must take their marching orders from veterans— not the other way around. That’s why Jon routinely holds veteran hearings and meetings in Montana to hear from veterans face-to-face.

Tester is spearheading legislation to ensure that all veterans are getting the benefits and care they’ve earned. He teamed up with Republicans to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act into law, to ensure that more veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange can access essential care and benefits. In a political climate when not much is getting done in Washington, Jon successfully worked with Republicans and President Trump to push this bill over the finish line.

He is also continuing to hold VA accountable by making sure that they implement the VA MISSION Act as intended by Congress. Jon is also pushing legislation protecting veterans’ disability payments and calling on VA to implement strategies to relieve financial burdens on veterans in Montana and across the country. And he’s pushing to change the VA’s approach to veterans’ mental health care and suicide prevention through his bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019.

As the number of women in the military increase, Jon is also spearheading a number of bills including the Deborah Sampson Act, focused on improving VA services to empower and better serve women veterans.

Jon believes veterans deserve action. And they also deserve elected officials who will stand up for them, not stand in their way. He is deeply grateful for the many sacrifices veterans have made for this nation, and he won’t stop until the men and women in uniform receive the quality benefits and care they have earned.

Energy & Environment

Montana is home to vast amounts of wind, solar, coal, geothermal, hydro, and natural gas resources.

Jon believes in a robust energy portfolio that taps into all of Montana’s energy resources to create good-paying jobs and generate critical tax revenue for schools and infrastructure projects, while powering homes and businesses across this country.

Jon also knows the climate is changing. He sees it firsthand on his farm, where planting and harvesting seasons are beginning earlier each year.

Jon envisions an energy economy that supports high-paying jobs and addresses the threat of climate change—an energy economy powered by Montana commonsense.

That’s why Jon has worked across the aisle to introduce legislation that will help burn coal cleaner and capture the carbon emissions from coal-powered plants.

Jon has also introduced legislation to strengthen the renewable energy sector and ensure Montana’s public lands are being used responsibly to support energy jobs.

Montana’s energy future is bright. Jon will work to keep these good-paying jobs and protect clean air and clean water for future generations.

Indian Affairs

Jon grew up just down the road from Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in northcentral Montana, and he believes that the U.S. Government must uphold its treaty and trust responsibilities to Indian Country.

As a senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Jon has worked closely with Tribal nations to expand resources at the Indian Health Service, increase investments in Tribal schools, and secure resources and expand jurisdiction for Tribal Law Enforcement agencies.

Jon has led the charge in the fight against the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis by pushing the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to pass bills focusing on addressing violence in Indian Country.

Jon has a long history of advocating for strengthening Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and he is making sure that Tribal leaders have the tools they need to increase opportunity and boost local economies.

Jon regularly visits each Montana Indian Reservation, sits down with Tribal leaders and families, and brings their concerns straight back to the Senate.

Regardless of whether the debate is about health care, education, or infrastructure, Jon is always pushing to empower Native voices, and make sure they have a seat at the table.


From health care to education, jobs and equal pay, Jon works hard every day on the issues that matter most to Montana women and ensures they have a voice in Congress.

Gender should have no bearing on a paycheck, which is why Jon is sponsoring legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Even the Playing Field Act to end the gender pay gap. Equal work deserves equal worth. It’s as simple as that.

Jon knows that no one should stand between a woman and her doctor and that all Montanans deserve high quality care. He firmly believes in a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, continues to support Title X family planning programs despite recent challenges in the courts, and backs Planned Parenthood funding. Jon is working with bipartisan partners in pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to take steps to improve the quality of care for women veterans.

Jon has always been surrounded by strong women, and every day he fights for policies to ensure that his granddaughters have the exact same opportunities to succeed as his grandsons.

More Information


Source: Government page


Raymond Jon Tester[1] (born August 21, 1956) is an American politician and farmer serving as the senior United States senator from Montana, elected in 2006. A member of the Democratic Party, Tester is the dean of Montana’s congressional delegation and the only Democrat who holds statewide and/or congressional office in Montana. He served in the Montana Senate from 1999 to 2007, and as its president for his last two years in the chamber.

Tester was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Conrad Burns in one of the closest Senate races of that year. He narrowly won reelection in 2012 against U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg, and in 2018 against Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale. He is running for reelection in 2024.

Early life, education, and farming career

Tester was born in Havre, Montana,[2] one of three sons of Helen Marie (née Pearson), who was born in North Dakota[3] and David O. Tester, born in Utah.[4] He is the descendant of Mormon pioneers on his father’s side. His father was of English descent and his mother was of Swedish ancestry.[5] Tester grew up in Chouteau County, near the town of Big Sandy, Montana, on land that his grandfather homesteaded in 1912.[6] At the age of nine, he lost the middle three fingers of his left hand in a meat-grinder accident.[7] In 1978, he graduated from the University of Providence (then called the College of Great Falls) with a B.A. in music.[8]

Tester then worked for two years as a music teacher in the Big Sandy School District before returning to his family’s farm and custom butcher shop.[9] He and his wife continue to operate the farm; in the 1980s, they switched from conventional to organic farming.[10][dead link] Tester spent five years as chairman of the Big Sandy School Board of Trustees and was also on the Big Sandy Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Committee and the Chouteau County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) Committee.[11]

Montana Senate (1999–2007)


Tester was first elected to represent the 45th district in the Montana Senate in 1998, after his neighbor, a Republican State Senator, decided not to run for reelection.[11][dead link] Before running for State Senate, Tester served on the Big Sandy school board for a decade.[12] He was elected the minority whip for the 2001 session. In 2002, he was reelected with 71% of the vote,[13] and he became minority leader in 2003. In 2004 he moved to the 15th district as a “holdover” because of redistricting. In 2005, Tester was elected president of the Montana Senate, the chief presiding officer of the Montana Legislature’s upper chamber.[11][dead link]


Tester’s election as Senate president marked a transition for Montana Democrats as they moved into the majority leadership of the Senate for the first time in more than a decade. Term limits prohibited Tester from running for State Senate for a third consecutive term.[14] Tester cited a prescription drug benefit program, reinstatement of the “Made in Montana” promotion program, a law to encourage renewable energy development, and his involvement with a bill that led to an historic increase in public school funding as accomplishments while in office.[15]

Committee assignments

  • Senate Finance Committee (2001–2004)[16]
  • Senate Agriculture Committee (2000–2005)[17][18][19]
  • Senate Rules Committee (2003–2005)[20]
  • Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee (2005)[19]
  • Panthera Leo City Council of Petroleum County (2012)[19]
  • Council Interim Committee (2003–2004)[21]

U.S. Senate (2007–present)


Tester during the 110th Congress


Tester announced his candidacy in May 2005 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Senator Conrad Burns. Tester was the second Democrat to jump into the race after state auditor John Morrison. While Tester had a greater following among his fellow legislators,[22] Morrison, whose grandfather had been governor of Nebraska, raised significantly more money and had greater statewide name recognition than Tester.[citation needed] Morrison had collected $1.05 million as of the start of 2006, including $409,241 in the last three months of 2005.[23][dead link] But “Morrison’s advantages in fundraising and name identification [did] not translate into a lead in the polls”,[24][dead link] most of which showed the race as exceedingly tight; as of late May 2006, some polls called the primary a “deadlock”.[25]

In June 2006, Tester won the Democratic nomination by more than 25 percentage points in a six-way primary.[26] He was described as having “gained momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign through an extensive grass-roots effort”.[26] While Tester’s pledge to “end secret meetings with lobbyists” was a central issue in his campaign, CNN reported in 2023 that he had not fully followed through on it.[27]

In the November 2006 general election, Tester defeated Burns, receiving 199,845 votes (49.2%) to Burns’s 196,283 (48.3%). Libertarian Stan Jones received 10,377 votes (2.6%).[28] Tester’s victory was confirmed the day after the election.[29]


Tester sought reelection to a second term and was challenged by Republican U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg.[30]

The race was seen as pivotal for both parties. During his first term, Tester split with Democrats on key issues like the Keystone XL oil pipeline; he had also voted with his party on issues such as the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial services overhaul.[31]

When announcing his candidacy, Rehberg called Tester a “yes man” for President Obama, saying that he sided with the administration in 97% of his votes. Rehberg cited Tester’s support for the ACA and the 2009 stimulus, both of which Rehberg opposed. Tester said that he stood by his votes on both bills, saying that the ACA contained “a lot of good stuff”. The Los Angeles Times noted that Tester diverged from his party on matters such as gun rights and illegal immigration.[32]

On Election Day, Tester defeated Rehberg, 48.6% to 44.9%. Libertarian Dan Cox received 6.6% of the vote.[33]


Tester won a third term, defeating Republican nominee Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale in a high-turnout election by over 15,000 votes and crossing the 50 percent threshold in vote totals for the first time in his three Senate elections.[34] Tester defeated Rosendale, receiving 253,876 votes (50.3%) to Rosendale’s 235,963 (46.8%). Libertarian Rick Breckenridge received 14,545 votes (2.9%).[35] President Donald Trump made a particular effort to unseat Tester, traveling to Montana four times over the preceding months. Despite some increase in Republican turnout in the state, Tester secured victory with increased turnout in Democratic-leaning areas, strong support from Native Americans and women, increased support among independent voters, and 67 percent of the youth vote.[36]


Despite reports that Tester was considering retirement,[37] on February 22, 2023, he announced that he would seek a fourth Senate term. His reelection is considered pivotal for Democrats to maintain their Senate majority in the 119th United States Congress.[38]

Tester is one of the Democratic Party’s last remaining red-state U.S. senators. Montana’s other U.S. senator, Steve Daines, is the head of the Republican campaign arm charged with winning back the majority in the 2024 election cycle, which will likely require unseating Tester. According to Politico, “That makes the senators from Big Sky Country the most awkward pair in the chamber.”[39] Montana is one of five states with Senate delegations split between the Republican and Democratic parties.[39] According to The Washington Post, Republican and Democratic strategists agree that “the race will be a test of whether [Tester’s] authenticity and connection with his home state’s voters can override most Montanans’ inclination to vote Republican.” Trump carried Montana by 16 percentage points in 2020; his margin of victory was larger in 2016. Tester has made some moves to distance himself from the Joe Biden administration, but his voting record remains in line with the Democratic Party.[40]


Tester at a 2013 press conference regarding the government shutdown that year

During a 2006 Billings press conference, the Tester campaign released a statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, pledging to give Tester a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee “as soon as possible”, regardless of whether Democrats won control of the Senate.[41] On January 13, 2009, during Tester’s second session of Congress, he was given a seat on the Appropriations Committee.[42] In 2013, Tester became chairman of the Banking Committee’s Securities, Insurance, and Investment Subcommittee.[43]

In September 2013, Tester opposed the appointment of Larry Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve; lacking a committee majority, Summers then withdrew his name from consideration.[44]

Tester received more money in campaign contributions from lobbyists than any other member of Congress in 2018. When asked about this, he said it was “bull”.[45]

Tester was on Capitol Hill for the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. He was in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building when the Capitol was breached. Along with his staff, Tester was evacuated to an undisclosed location for safety.[46] He called the storming a “despicable and dangerous attack on our democracy” and “a coup by domestic terrorists”,[47][48] and blamed Trump for instigating it. He also said that impeachment of Trump was unlikely in the short period of time before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.[48] He called fellow Montana senator Steve Daines an “enabler” of the attack, as Daines supported Trump’s unproven voter fraud claims.[49]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Tester is considered a moderate or centrist Democrat.[50][51][52][53][54] A New York Times profile of Tester after his 2006 election described him as “truly your grandfather’s Democrat—a pro-gun, anti-big-business prairie pragmatist whose life is defined by the treeless patch of hard Montana dirt that has been in the family since 1916”.[55] In 2012, USA Today noted that Tester had sometimes “split with Democrats—most recently in his support of construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast—but he has voted with Obama on the most critical issues of his presidency: the stimulus, the health care legislation and the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul“.[56][dead link] FiveThirtyEight, which tracks votes in Congress, found that Tester had voted with Trump’s position 30% of the time during Trump’s presidency.[57] Through January 2023, Tester had voted in line with Joe Biden’s position 91% of the time.[58]


Tester supports abortion rights. In 2023, The New York Times wrote that his “electoral successes trace back to carefully tailored campaigns that catered to local issues over dominant national ones like abortion”, and that for red state Democrats like Tester and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, it was an open question whether they could “maintain their invaluable political personas while—for the first time in their lengthy careers in public office—persuading their constituents to keep abortion rights front and center when voting next year.”[59]

Economy and jobs

In 2011, Tester was one of two Democratic senators to filibuster the American Jobs Act. It was reported that he was not concerned about the surtax on some families to pay for the plan, but was unsure that the new spending would actually create jobs. “I’ve got more of a concern about a state aid package … and how the money is going to be spent and whether it’s really going to create jobs,” he explained.[60]

In January 2018, Tester was the only Democratic senator from a Republican-leaning state to oppose a stopgap funding measure to end a three-day government shutdown and reopen the federal government.[61]

In 2018, Tester became one of the Democrats in the Senate to support the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, a bill that partially repealed Dodd-Frank and relaxed key banking regulations. As one of at least 11 other Democrats, he argued that the bill would “right-size post-crisis rules imposed on small and regional lenders and help make it easier for them to provide credit”. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren vehemently opposed the legislation.[62] Tester became the first Democrat endorsed by Friends of Traditional Banking, a political action committee that had previously endorsed Republicans.[63]


In May 2011 a Newsweek reporter who traveled with Tester in Montana said that the “desire to wrest control of wolves from D.C. … was the only topic that came up everywhere he went: hotels, coffee shops, art auctions. ‘What do you think about wolves?’ a sixth grader asked during an assembly in Miles City. ‘I think we should start hunting them again!’ Tester said. The kids let out their loudest cheer of the afternoon.”[64] Tester tried to revive a bill that was meant to be a compromise between the conservationists and the timber industry. The bill would put 700,000 acres of wilderness aside for “light-on-the-land logging projects” with the intention of creating jobs in the flagging industry. It was noted that Tester was not “winning admirers on his side”, with some liberal environmentalists saying that would give lumber mills control of the national forests.[64][65]


Tester is a gun owner.[66] On gun rights, the NRA Political Victory Fund gave him an A− rating in 2012.[67] This was downgraded to a D in 2018 after he voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.[68] Tester supports efforts to loosen restrictions on gun exports, saying it would help U.S. gun manufacturers expand their business and create more jobs.[69]

In 2016, Tester voted against a Democrat-sponsored proposal that would have required background checks for purchases at gun shows and for purchases of guns online nationwide. He argued that the bill would “have blocked family members and neighbors from buying and selling guns to one another without a background check”. Tester voted for a second Democrat-sponsored proposal to ban gun sales to people on the terrorist watch list. Both proposals failed.[70]

Health care

Tester supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, voting for it in December 2009.[71] He voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[72]

In 2017, he said that Democrats should consider a single-payer health care system.[51] In July that year, Tester said that health care needed reform but that the latest GOP attempt at reform was a “train wreck” that would “strip health care away from millions of Americans”. He said that Democrats should “work to fix what’s wrong with the current health care system in a bipartisan way. And that means going through committee process, not doing it in a dark room with a select few, but going through the committee process and getting good ideas from everybody”. Reminded that some Democrats “believe that compromise on this issue is not only unprincipled but unnecessary”, Tester said the issue was “too important … not to try to help remedy the problems”.[73]


In December 2010, Tester voted against the DREAM Act, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for the foreign-born children of illegal immigrants. He has said, “Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution. I do not support legislation that provides a path for citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.”[74][75]

In 2017, Tester criticized Trump for saying that he would cancel DACA in six months. “I don’t support what the president did”, Tester said. “I think it’s ill-informed, I think it rips families apart, and it’s not what this country stands for.” Asked if he would now commit to voting for the DREAM Act, he said, “I support comprehensive immigration reform.”[76]

In January 2018, Tester and Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Kamala Harris, and Claire McCaskill co-sponsored the Border and Port Security Act,[77] legislation to mandate that U.S. Customs and Border Protection “hire, train and assign at least 500 officers per year until the number of needed positions the model identifies is filled” and require the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to determine potential equipment and infrastructure improvements for ports of entry.[78]

Impeachment of Donald Trump

Tester voted to convict Trump during both of his impeachment trials.[79]

LGBT rights

On December 18, 2010, Tester voted for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[80] While he opposed same-sex marriage during both his 2006 and 2012 campaigns, Tester announced his support for it in March 2013, citing concerns about federal government overreach.[81] After the U.S. Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that all U.S. states must recognize gay marriage, Tester praised the ruling as protecting “the rights and freedoms of every married couple”.[82] In 2022, he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act.[83]


During Tester’s first Senate campaign, in a September 24, 2006, debate in Butte, Conrad Burns criticized Tester for wanting to weaken the PATRIOT Act. Tester replied: “I don’t want to weaken the PATRIOT Act, I want to repeal it!”[84] Tester opposed the confirmations of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General,[85] Mike Pompeo as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency[86] and Neil Gorsuch as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States for supporting the PATRIOT Act’s bulk data collection provisions.[85][87] On September 28, 2018, Tester announced that he would vote against confirming Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Among other reasons, Tester cited “concerns that Judge Kavanaugh defended the PATRIOT Act instead of Montanans’ privacy”, as Kavanaugh had helped the Bush administration craft a program of mass domestic surveillance and had ruled in favor of increased government surveillance under the PATRIOT Act in Klayman v. Obama.[88]

On May 20, 2015, Tester was one of seven Senate Democrats to join Republican Senator Rand Paul in his 10-hour filibuster against reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act.[89]

Supreme Court

Tester opposed the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which allows corporations and unions to donate unlimited amounts of money to third-party political groups. He proposed a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision, arguing that it had a bad impact on American democracy.[90]

Tester voted to confirm Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.[citation needed] He opposed Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch.[91] Tester also voted against Trump’s nominees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.[92][93] Tester voted to confirm Joe Biden’s nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.[94]

Torture and interrogation

In May 2018, Tester said that he would not support Gina Haspel‘s nomination to become CIA Director.[95] The first Democrat from a red state to express opposition to her, he cited her role in Bush administration interrogation and detention programs, and said he was “not a fan of waterboarding“.[95]

Veterans affairs

As ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester raised concerns about the nomination of Ronny Jackson to head the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. There were allegations against Jackson that he dispensed medications in a medically unethical fashion, was drunk on an overseas trip and drunkenly banged on the hotel door of a female colleague.[96] Jackson denied the allegations but withdrew his nomination.[97] In response, Trump called for Tester’s resignation and said that the allegations against Jackson were false.[96] According to CNN, four sources familiar with the allegation that Jackson drunkenly banged on the door of a female colleague confirmed it. The Secret Service said it could not verify any of the allegations.[96] Johnny Isakson, the Republican chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, defended Tester, saying he had no problem with Tester’s handling of Jackson’s nomination.[98]

Personal life

During Tester’s senior year in college, he married Sharla Bitz.[99] They have three children.[100] Tester is affiliated with the Church of God.[101]

Before his election to the Senate, Tester had never lived more than two hours away from his north-central Montana farm.[55] In addition to his Montana farm, Tester owns a home in Washington, D.C.[102]

A January 2012 profile of Tester focused on the fact that he butchers and brings his own meat with him to Washington. He said “Taking meat with us is just something that we do … We like our own meat”.[103]

Tester is a Freemason.[104]

Electoral history

2006 U.S. Senate Montana Democratic primary results[105]
DemocraticJon Tester 65,757 60.77
DemocraticJohn Morrison38,39435.48
DemocraticPaul Richards1,6361.51
DemocraticRobert Candee1,4711.36
DemocraticKenneth Marcure9400.87
Total votes108,198 100.00
United States Senate election in Montana, 2006[28]
DemocraticJon Tester 199,845 49.16 +1.92
RepublicanConrad Burns (incumbent)196,28348.29−2.27
LibertarianStan Jones10,3772.55+2.55
Total votes406,505 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican
2012 U.S. Senate Montana Democratic primary results[106]
DemocraticJon Tester (incumbent) 88,720 100.00
Total votes88,720 100.00
United States Senate election in Montana, 2012[33]
DemocraticJon Tester (incumbent) 236,123 48.58 −0.58
RepublicanDenny Rehberg218,05144.86−3.43
LibertarianDan Cox31,8926.56+4.01
Total votes486,066 100.00
Democratic hold
2018 U.S. Senate Montana Democratic primary results[107]
DemocraticJon Tester (incumbent) 114,948 100.00
Total votes114,948 100.00
United States Senate election in Montana, 2018[35]
DemocraticJon Tester (incumbent) 253,876 50.33 +1.75
RepublicanMatt Rosendale235,96346.78+1.92
LibertarianRick Breckenridge14,5452.88−3.68
Total votes504,384 100.00
Democratic hold


  • Grounded: A Senator’s Lessons on Winning Back Rural America (2020)[citation needed]


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External links

Montana Senate
Preceded by

Loren Jenkins
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 45th district

Succeeded by

Preceded by

Emily Swanson
Member of the Montana Senate
from the 15th district

Succeeded by

Party political offices
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Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Montana
(Class 1)

2006, 2012, 2018, 2024
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Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
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U.S. Senate
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U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: Max Baucus, John Walsh, Steve Daines
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Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
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Ranking Member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
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Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
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Jerry Moran
Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
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