Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced Wednesday that he will run for re-election, a decision that comes as Democrats look to hold on to their slim Senate majority in 2024.
“Montanans need a fighter that will hold our government accountable and demand Washington stand up for veterans and lower costs for families,” Tester tweeted Wednesday. “I will always fight to defend our Montana values. Let’s get to work.”
Tester, 66, was first elected in 2006 and has survived multiple election cycles in the Republican-leaning state, which then-President Donald Trump won by about 16 points in the 2020 presidential election.
Tester told NBC News this month that he was still undecided about whether to run for re-election in 2024. He said at the time he’s “got a few things to think about” and declined to provide a timeline for his decision other than sometime this year.
“Ultimately, in the end, I’ve got a farm that’s been in the family for over 100 years,” he said.
“We got to make sure that’s taken care of. We got to make sure that we’ve thought through all the procedures of what’s going to happen over the next eight years. And so once we get through with that, then we can come down and make a decision,” he added.
Tester expressed concerns about the future of the Democratic Party after the midterm elections in November.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” in December, Tester said he believes his party’s “very bad” messaging cost it support in rural America in the midterm elections. He suggested that Democrats need to focus their messaging “more on the things we’re doing for rural America.”
Tester said he doesn’t believe Democrats talk about their accomplishments in a way that appeals to rural voters “nearly enough,” pointing to the bipartisan infrastructure law Congress passed in 2021.
“It’s going to help rural America big time when it comes to broadband and electrical distribution and roads and bridges. We didn’t talk about it,” Tester said on “Meet the Press.” “We didn’t talk about it from a rural perspective.”
The race could bring challenges from Republican Reps. Ryan Zinke and Matt Rosendale. Zinke, who was interior secretary in the Trump administration and resigned amid ethics investigations, said he will consider a Senate campaign, The Associated Press reported. Rosendale, a conservative who failed to unseat Tester in 2018, has declined to say whether he will run.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee reacted swiftly to news of Tester's re-election bid.
“The Tester-Biden agenda has given Montanans rising crime, higher taxes, and an open southern border that is flooding communities with deadly fentanyl. Montanans are going to send Joe Biden’s favorite Senator packing in 2024," spokeswoman Maggie Abboud said in a statement.