The state of Montana showed the country on Tuesday night that it will not bow to any outside forces and will determine its own identity.
After a close, contentious race for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Jon Tester was declared the winner sometime around 1:00 pm ET. Current numbers put him ahead of Matt Rosendale just a little under 5,000 votes — 49% to 48.1%.
220,139 for Tester; 215,889 for Rosendale.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 7, 2018
What’s most interesting about the Montana race is how the vote split between Democrat Jon Tester for the U.S. Senate and Republican Greg Gianforte for the U.S. House. Incumbent Gianforte, the infamous body-slammer, delivered a smackdown victory to his Democratic opponent, Kathleen Williams, by a substantial margin — 52% to 45.3%. Since Montana has only one representative, that means voters overwhelmingly elected to split the ticket between the Democrat in the U.S. Senate and the Republican in the U.S. House. Unfortunately, the former has far more say in the direction of the country than the latter.
Of all the races on Tuesday night, the Montana Senate seat was easily one of President Trump’s most personal pet projects, being that Tester opposed two of his Supreme Court picks and worked to sink Ronnny Jackson, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
“I can never forget what Jon Tester did to a man that’s of the highest quality,” Trump said in October. “What (Tester) did was unfair, what he did was vicious, what he did was … almost, almost, if this is believable, worse.”
More from the Daily Beast:
Perhaps more so than the others, Trump set his sights on Tester after he raised concerns about the nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, allegations that eventually sunk the nominee.
In numerous visits to the state, one frequented by Donald Trump Jr. as well, the president sought to remind voters of Tester’s actions, famously declaring in an April rally that he knew things about Tester that would end his career. It was never clear what Trump meant by that and the barrage of attacks from the president were not enough to lead to a loss for Tester.
So how did Tester pull it off? One likely explanation is the fact that Matt Rosendale was not a Montana native — he moved there from Maryland — along with the fact that Tester successfully castigated him as an “East Coast land developer,” which did not sit well in a state that overwhelmingly values public lands.
“He defeated Rosendale, currently the Montana state auditor, whose Maryland accent typified the kind of criticism he earned from Tester, who was born and raised in Montana,” reports the Daily Beast. “Labeling him an as ‘East Coast developer,’ Tester campaigned on protecting a mandate that health-care insurers cover pre-existing conditions and the preservation of federal public lands, all while showcasing his folksy farmer vibe, complete with a hand mangled in a meat-grinder accident when he was a child.”