Uncommon Ground

Deep Roots

Tester remains focused on rural, on people, on helping Montanans

By Mike Jopek

Anyone who’s met him, likes him. Even folks who voted against him in past elections admit he’s the one guy who gets stuff done for Montana. They’re quietly glad he’s working for us. Others just don’t deliver like the dirt farmer from Big Sandy.

“I fight for Montanans every single day in a place where there’s not a lot of representation of real rural America. They’ll try to make me into something I’m not. That’s fine. I am who I am,” the farmer said on television.

“Folks back in Washington and even some folks moving here don’t understand, or frankly don’t care, about what’s happening out here,” said Sen. Jon Tester in his first reelection ad airing across Montana.

Tester is well known by almost everyone whose lived in the state for any real length of time. He’s about as Montana as one gets. Three generations of his family farmed the land outside Big Sandy. He still does. Only guy in the Senate to do so.

Tester’s first ad hits at a core struggle that’s overrun a state where Americans from across the nation come to visit, to recreate, to relocate, to raise families, or to retire.

Tester knows what’s important because he listens, keeps focus on the people living in the state. “I know the Montana that’s worth protecting, because I’ve lived it every day,” he says. Like most Montanans Tester seeks decency “where we look out for each other and where our word is our bond.”

Much changed over the past few years. Montana got expensive. State regulators let utilities increase power bills by a whopping 28% for many locals statewide. State legislators increased home property taxes by an unprecedented $200 million per year. Montana dumped nearly 25,000 kids off health insurance. And the rent doubled.

Tester says that some families are being forced to sell the farms they’ve held for generations.

The dirt farmer turned U.S. Senator was key to assuring that the timberlands surrounding places like Columbia Falls, Kalispell and Whitefish remain open for generations and free from development. He passes laws to fund hospitals, airports and local infrastructure. He passes laws to keep medicine cheaper. He passes laws to bring computer chip manufacturing to places like the Kalispell.

The list goes on. The man simply delivers for Montana. The other guys scream about this and divide over that. Tester remains focused on rural, on people, on helping Montanans.

When Tester says “I’m defending our way of life with everything I’ve got,” I believe him. In the last couple years, a lot has changed across our rural towns, not always for the better.

When he says “I’m protecting our freedoms because Montanans don’t like to be told how to live by anyone, especially the government,” it resonates with thousands of locals who see state lawmakers repeatedly vying to take away our Constitutional rights.

Past the television talk, Tester remains the one man in D.C. who gets stuff done. He’s works hard to keep veteran’s clinics open and saved many rural hospitals. Ask any family living in Montana, rural schools are the “lifeblood of so many communities.”

Jon Tester has lived within a hundred miles of the place he was born his entire life until voters sent the farmer to Washington, D.C. to help out with the local concerns of people within our great state.

Many challenges face Montanans whether we live in Columbia Falls or Big Sandy. We’re one big rural state. “Farther across Montana than from Chicago to D.C.,” an old railroad engineer used to say in downtown Whitefish.

It’s heartening that at least one guy working in Washington, D.C. keeps his focus on the things that matter to local families living and working across our big rural state.

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