SPOTLIGHT

Tester Catches a Break

The Montana Democrat won't have to look left in the general election.

Supporters of President Donald Trump hold up a banner in front of hundreds of protesters outside a rally by Trump in Great Falls, Montana, Thursday, July 5, 2018. Trump is holding a rally to campaign for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's Republican challenger, State Auditor Matt Rosendale.
AP Photo/Matt Volz
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Kyle Trygstad
July 12, 2018, 9:34 a.m.

Over the past three months, President Trump has called for Sen. Jon Tester’s resignation, snubbed him from a VA bill signing ceremony, and dropped into Great Falls, MT, to campaign against him.

But a development potentially far more consequential to the Democrat’s reelection than drawing the president’s sustained ire occurred Monday when a judge ordered the secretary of state to remove all Green Party candidates—including one challenging Tester—from the general election ballot because the party hadn’t filed enough valid signatures to qualify.

Tester is a force in Montana politics, but he’s never been elected to the Senate with more than 49 percent of the vote—and in both races the Libertarian candidate’s vote share far exceeded Tester’s margin over his Republican opponent. Losing votes to a more liberal third-party candidate could have been politically lethal for a Democrat in a state Trump carried by 20 points, which undoubtedly led the state Democratic Party to sue for the Green Party's disqualification.

Unfortunately for Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale, Libertarian Rick Breckenridge, who won 3 percent of the vote in the 2016 House race, remains on the ballot.

-- Kyle Trygstad

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