Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s seat has been moved to the “Toss Up” category for 2024 by The Cook Political Report.
Tester had previously been in the “Lean D” column, along with other contentious races in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but now occupies a lane with other vulnerable seats in Arizona and Ohio. The Cook Political Report indicated it decided to switch the seat’s rating due to developments in the Republican primary, as well as President Joe Biden’s potential to be a drag on the ticket in the Trump-loving state.
“Three-term Sen. Jon Tester may well be Democrats’ strongest incumbent this cycle — he still enjoys an approval rating around 60 percent — but the 67-year-old has the toughest uphill climb of any incumbent Democrat, at least purely by the numbers,” Jessica Taylor, The Cook Political Report’s Senate and Governors editor, wrote.
Shelbi Dantic, Tester’s campaign manager, welcomed voters to join their efforts in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation following the rating change.
“Jon’s no stranger to tough fights, and this election will be no different,” Dantic said.
Sheehy has the backing from several of Montana’s top Republican leaders, including National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Steve Daines, Gov. Greg Gianforte and Rep. Ryan Zinke, along with several other national GOP elected officials.
“Jon Tester is in for the race of his life because of his unethical behavior and lockstep support for Joe Biden’s disastrous agenda,” Maggie Abboud, spokeswoman for the NRSC, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, said in a statement.
During the third fundraising quarter, Tester’s campaign raked in roughly $5 million, and reported $13 million cash on hand. Sheehy raised $2.9 million with $1.1 million in hard dollars, while Rosendale’s congressional campaign brought in $334,700, and ended the fundraising period with $1.7 million in the bank.
Sheehy has already launched several statewide advertisements, which he has spent $1.7 million on, according to AdImpact per The Cook Political Report.
“Cook’s rating change to Toss Up solidifies that the 2024 Montana Senate race will be one of the most competitive in the country and underscores Tim Sheehy’s growing support and strength as a political outsider candidate taking on a three-term incumbent,” a spokesperson for the Sheehy campaign said in a statement. “Experts nationwide are taking notice of Tim Sheehy’s strong candidacy, rise in the polls, and profile that appeals to both primary voters and the general electorate.”
Though polling previously indicated Rosendale would beat Sheehy for the GOP nomination by double digits, two November surveys suggest otherwise. A Co/Efficient poll showed Rosendale losing the primary by 16 points, and another, conducted by Fabrizio Lee and commissioned by a pro-Sheehy super PAC, found the former Navy SEAL leading 44% to 41%.
“Cook Report just changed this race to a tossup. If the NRSC shifted its resources to exposing Tester as a reliable vote for Schumer instead of dismissing the choice of Montana voters, this race would already be listed as a likely republican seat,” Aashka Varma, spokesperson for Rosendale, told the DCNF in a statement. “This is precisely why the GOP continues to be in the minority in the Senate.”
An Emerson College survey released in mid-October indicated Tester would beat Sheehy by 4 points, however previous polling compiled by FiveThirtyEight showed the former Navy SEAL and Rosendale both beating the senator by several points.
Read more from the original publication HERE.
Written by Mary Lou Masters of the Daily Caller.