The Endorsement of Jon Tester

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill taught us that all politics is local. The candidate that you successfully run in one district or state would be a certain loser in another. For the second time in recent days is endorsing a moderate candidate for reelection to the United States Senate. Today it is Senator Jon Tester of Montana. I’m certain I can convince progressives to support him. Let’s explore.

Describing Tester as a progressive would be inaccurate. Saying a progressive can’t win statewide election in Montana this fall would be accurate. Tester is fairly described as a moderate or centrist Democrat.

My litmus test vote for endorsing a sitting Democratic Senator is their vote on Manchin-Toomey. Tester, like most Montanans is pro-gun. He voted for the common sense regulations in Manchin-Toomey in 2013, a year after his reelection in 2012. We can have gun rights in America while still protecting our citizens. The safe vote for Tester would have been to oppose Manchin-Toomey; it failed anyway. He chose the courageous and voted correctly, not safely. Courage, intelligence and caring for his countrymen; qualities in short supply in Washington and that I can support.

Jon is a former teacher and still a farmer (currently organic). Americans, regardless of where they live need a strong public education system and firsthand knowledge of agricultural issues is important in a rural state like Montana.

Tester’s involvement in public education wasn’t limited to a few years on a faculty. For years after that he served on the Big Sandy School Board of Trustees along with being was a vocal and successful advocate for public education funding. Taking a paycheck is easy. Being a member of a Board isn’t much more difficult. Standing up for what you believe in takes courage and hard work.

Farming is in his family history. His grandfather homesteaded over 100 years ago and the family has kept their hands in Montana dirt since. Land and particularly water issues are much different west of the Mississippi River than east of it. Having lived my entire life near the East Coast I am to a great degree ignorant of some of those issues therefore I increasingly rely on ratings from the League of Conservation Voters; Tester gets an 86. Generally he is a very good steward of the environment. A rare exception was his vote to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline Extension. Do you seriously think any GOP candidate would get an 86?

Further illustrating Tester’s care for his fellow Americans he defended their health by voting for Obamacare and looked out for the consumer by voting for Dodd- Frank. Jon is also generally pro-LGBT and pro-choice. Remember this is a red state Senator. Those positions will be used against him in the 2018 campaign.

While all Republicans and most red state Democrats are terrified of a Trump tweet to the point of near treason, Tester has proven to be courageous in his defense of his fellow Americans. He was the leading voice opposing the nomination of Admiral Ronny Jackson, MD to head the VA. Plain and simple, Jackson was unqualified but most of the Senate was afraid to point that obvious fact out. Tester is not afraid to take on President Trump; a quality that is sorely lacking among his peers to the detriment of our nation.

To keep this all in perspective remember that Trump won Montana by over 20 percentage points in 2016. Jon Tester is a physically large man. I am proud to endorse him not for the size of his body but for having the courage of his convictions and the best interests of his countrymen at heart.

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