Tester Confident of Record in Election Challenge

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Sen. Jon Tester, who formally filed with state officials Tuesday to appear on the ballot, said he is confident his record will prevail in his re-election challenge from Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The Democrat who came from behind to topple former Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006 is seeking a second term. The race between Tester and Rehberg is already a multimillion-dollar slugfest expected to only receive more attention as November draws near.

Tester is being attacked by the Rehberg campaign as a “liberal” ally of President Barack Obama. Tester said he does not regret votes supportive of administration policies like health care reform that are now unpopular in Montana.

Tester argues the reform, while not perfect, will help fix a broken system. He said when fully implemented in 2014 it ensures that people won’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, gives the uninsured financial help to get covered, and makes other needed fixes.

“In the old health care system, you were one sickness away from bankruptcy,” Tester said. “Once we get this implemented, it will be better, and we will keep talking about ways to make it better.”

Tester said Montana is well-served by having a farmer in the Senate. He touted his opposition to measures like the Patriot Act, his support of gun issues, advocacy of improved veterans’ benefits, and his work beating back rural post office closures.

Recently, Tester and Rehberg swapped proposals to reduce the influence of outside interests in the race. Ultimately, Tester rejected a GOP offer to reject all money donations from outside Montana.

Tester argued the Made in Montana Pledge was really written by Republican lawyers, and believed unaffiliated out-of-state interests would ultimately interfere in the race anyway after he rejected nonresident money raised by his campaign.

“The Made in Montana Pledge was made in a lawyer’s office in Washington D.C.,” Tester said. “Quite frankly, I don’t trust them to hold their end of the deal.”

Tester counters that he thinks Rehberg has been guilty of “irresponsible decisions” while serving in Congress for more than a decade, such as by seeking more authority for federal police operating on land near the Canadian border.

The Rehberg campaign said that Tester will have to take some responsibility for record national debt, stimulus spending that it argues did not deliver as promised and other issues.