Before he arrived at the balloon-decorated Holiday Inn in Great Falls, Montana, for his Election Night watch party, Jon Tester was 80 miles away on his farm in Big Sandy, taking the engine out of his ’86 Chevy pickup.
When the race was finally called on Wednesday morning, the engine still had a blown head gasket—but the 62-year-old farmer and two-term Democratic senator had managed to get his political career to turn over one more time.
The outcome had been far from certain. President Donald Trump, enraged that Tester had derailed his nomination of Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, had made unseating the senator a personal project. Polls showed Tester and his opponent, Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale, running neck and neck in the lead-up to Election Day.
[Read: Jon Tester bets the farm]
Voter registration in Montana was at a record high as people headed to the polls, and turnout has surpassed any midterm showing since at least 1994. Gallatin County, a Democratic stronghold in the mostly Republican state, was among the last to report results. The county clerk and recorder, Charlotte Mills, told Montana Public Radio in an interview nearly two hours after the polls had closed that the line of voters at the courthouse was still stretching out of the building. “It’s been out the door and up the block the entire day,” she said.
The last voter in line filed his ballot around 11 p.m. The state uses a paper system, and collecting results from far-flung precincts on a snowy, foggy evening contributed to the slow returns. A crash on Highway 191, the only direct thruway from West Yellowstone to the county election office in Bozeman, delayed the driver bringing stacks of ballots from the southern end of the county.
Tester’s victory, when it was announced at last, came despite Trump having visited the state four times in the past five months to rally for Rosendale. It was a remarkable focus on a state with just over 1 million people. When Donald Trump Jr. accompanied Rosendale on a two-day “Montana Victory Tour” bus trip in late October, they stopped in some towns where a non-negligible share of the population could fit inside Air Force One.
Trump won Montana by more than 20 points in the 2016 election, and he attempted to leverage partisan flash points—from Brett Kavanaugh’s …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Politics