Democrat John Tester won his re-election bid to represent Montana in the Senate on Wednesday in a race that was deemed too close to call on election night. Tester beat out his Republican opponent Matt Rosendale, the state auditor, to secure a third term in the Senate. With 99 percent of the votes tallied by Wednesday afternoon, Tester led Rosendale 49.1 percent to 48 percent.
During the campaign, Tester had trumpeted his record of serving on the Veterans Affairs Committee and his efforts to pass the VA Mission Act and other legislation benefiting service members. He also accused his opponent of lacking roots in Montana and receiving money from out-of-state groups. Rosendale moved to Montana from Maryland in 2002.
When told of Tester’s victory during a tumultuous press conference on Wednesday, Trump congratulated the senator. However, Trump has singled Tester out for censure ever since the senator sunk the president’s nomination of former White House doctor Adm. Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs in April. Tester released damaging misconduct allegations against Jackson during the nomination process. On Saturday, Trump visited Montana to campaign against Tester, telling the crowd at a rally, “He tried to destroy Adm. Ronny Jackson, who’s the most clean-cut, wonderful person you’ve ever met. He tried to destroy him, and I’ve never forgotten it.”
Beyond the president’s attacks, Tester was considered to be vulnerable because Trump had won Montana by 20 points in 2016. During his campaign, Tester actually touted his ability to work with Trump when necessary, as was the case with the VA Mission Act, which the president signed into law in June. “Washington is a mess but that is not stopping me from getting bills signed into law by President Trump,” the senator said in his first campaign ad.