Vulnerable Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester To Face Trump-Backed Republican Tim Sheehy In Key November Race

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican political newcomer Tim Sheehy emerged victorious Tuesday in Montana’s Senate primary elections, setting the stage for a critical November race that could influence the balance of power in the US Senate. Tester, a three-term incumbent, won his primary with over 97% support, facing little opposition from within his party. Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and businessman endorsed by former President Donald Trump, secured his GOP primary win with 73.5% of the vote.

Tester took to social media to address his upcoming battle against Sheehy, writing, “It’s official. I’m facing off against Mitch McConnell’s handpicked candidate Tim Sheehy for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat. And I’m going to win.” Tester also added a jab, stating, “I have farm equipment that’s been in Montana longer than Tim Sheehy.”

Despite his confidence, Tester faces a challenging re-election campaign in a state that has consistently supported Republican candidates in recent years. Montana voters backed Trump by a 16.4 percentage-point margin in the 2020 presidential election and by a 20.4-point margin in 2016. Tester is currently the only Democrat in Montana’s congressional delegation, with the state also having a Republican governor and GOP control of both chambers of the state legislature.

Tester’s previous election victories have been narrow. He was first elected to the Senate in 2006 by a margin of just 0.9 percentage points, won re-election in 2012 by 3.7 points, and secured a third term in 2018 with a 3.5-point margin.

In contrast, Sheehy, a 37-year-old former Navy SEAL, brings a fresh face to the GOP. Following his primary win, Sheehy expressed his gratitude and determination on social media, stating, “America is at a crossroads and we need a new generation of leaders to save our country. I am humbled and honored by all the support and look forward to finally retiring the #1 recipient of lobbyist cash and pro-Biden liberal #RetireTester.”

Tester currently holds a 5.5-point lead over Sheehy, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls. However, polling in the race has been limited, with no recent surveys since March. The outcome of this race could be pivotal as Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate.